Over the past 3 months my fiancé Phil and I have been hard at work on our next house flip project… our OWN HOUSE! Finally! We have been searching for our project house off and on for the past 3 years. Crazy thing is, we found this project house listed on Facebook Marketplace! Who would have thought my time spent scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed would lead us to our house?! But here we are…
Now this house isn’t quite yet a home. We are in the midst of a 4-5ish month renovation project. There’s been A LOT going on.
Before we jump into sharing the renovations plans, the story of how we found this house is a bit unique. I found this project house listed in one of my local community’s buy/sell Facebook groups. We’ve considered a lot of homes in our 3 year search. Houses on and “off market”. Which means the property isn’t listed with a realtor involved, it isn’t on the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) but is instead a “For sale by owner” property. For background: homes are often sold as “unlisted” as the realtor fees involved in closing a property deal are seriously hefty. Nothing against working with a relator. They are experienced professionals great at helping many people, but of course that helpful service comes with a cost.
And of course working without a relator comes with risk. Risk of the unknown, as disclosures and or inspection isn’t always involved with a off the market property sale.
We have been searching for the right off-market deal for awhile. We found such leads through Phil’s work in property investment and flipping. (Check out his past house flip projects here) He regularly combs through “off-market” real estate deals that are sent to him through all the network building he’s done in the local property market. He is in the know of this “off the grid” pool of properties – yet we found the right place through a Facebook post! In my opinion, regular people not “in the off-market property industry” can find great home deals by way of social media / online sellers listings. If you are looking for your own fixer upper and are okay with a bit of risk, and with doing things non-traditionally, or just want to take the search on yourself avoiding the costs of working with an expert relator – I wouldn’t ignore those random “For Sale By Owner” signs in yards or home listing on Nextdoor, Facebook or Craigslist. Or perhaps consider working with someone like Phil who can help you find (or sell) a home without the realtor fee costs. But of course, do your homework. I’m just sharing our story.
While this isn’t our first flip project, its the biggest in scope. We are redoing the majority of the house. Including renovating /replacing:
2 full baths
basement drywall & flooring
replacing half of the windows
addition (not adding om, it exists already we’re just refinishing the addition)
majority of the doors
gas fireplace insert
deck (if we can get the materials before its too cold to lay concrete footings)
lime-washing the exterior brick
re-painting every surface in the house, including ceilings, doors, trim, etc
We are 3ish months into our project and a lot has progressed, yet a lot is dragging on. Taking on renovations during this time of Covid and the general upsets of 2020 (wildfires, riots, hurricanes) has provided a lot of unexpected challenges and delays. Essentials to get work done were and still are (months into Covid) just in SUCH high demand or are seriously delayed.
This is because of a few factors. Availability of key building materials like lumber or wood has been shockingly low. Industries shutting down during stay-at-home orders caused material and production shortages. For example the appliances we decided on are no longer being manufactured because the brand is still focusing on only producing their most popular lines. Our fireplace insert was meant to take 4 weeks to arrive, it has been 8 weeks and the manufacture is STILL working on it. Shipping across the board has been greatly delayed because of shutdowns, wildfires, hurricanes and people ordering all the things they don’t need during a pandemic 🤔.
Also homeowners have been more likely to invest in their homes lately, as they are not spending on their usual vacations. There’s a uptick in homeowners taking on more home projects than usual. Not only is there a shortage in supplies, there is a lot of market competition for things such as contactor labor, basic lumber, decking material, shiplap, doors etc..
With a lot of homeowners looking to work with contractors it has led to competition to get on their schedules. What added to the challenge was that Covid unemployment benefits left many contractors struggling to find & keep workers. Because those laborers believed they were making more or enough to find staying unemployed attractive! 🤔 Sigh…
Decking crews in July started saying they couldn’t take on work until NEXT spring! We’ve been trying to secure a crew to work on our chimney for literal months and with the seasons changing we are finding that most crews are bidding for NEXT spring. Turns out our job is just a bit small for crews to prioritize. Sigh…
The project itself is massive. We are the project managers, purchasing managers, designers and homeowners all in one. We have detailed, designed and directed all the projects. We shopped for and purchased every item that has gone into the house. We’ve educated ourselves on what to look for in bids, contracts, insurance, permits, roofing, thermostats, mini split HVAC units, windows, tiles, flooring, fans, doors, hinges, lumber, grout, nails, retaining wall drains – you name it we’ve taken on figuring out how to shop for it. We have both had plenty of breakdowns and second guessing episodes.
Those are some of the challenges we are facing within this great privilege of having the means to renovate a house. But all in all we are so incredibly grateful to have the opportunity to work on transforming this house into our home. It is something we have dreamed of for years and are finally putting in the work to make it reality.
We’ve been lucky to find a great (honest, clear, hardworking) main contractor team and are even taking on a lot of the work ourselves.