After nine seasons of hosting “Flip or Flop,” Tarek El Moussa has inspired many an American to pick up a sledgehammer and try renovating their own home. After all, based on what you see on TV, how hard could it be?
Well, on El Moussa’s new show, “Flipping 101 with Tarek El Moussa,” it’s painfully clear that flipping a house is not for the faint of heart. On the show, El Moussa helps novice house flippers with their renovations. But even with his guidance, they still make tons of mistakes.
Yet from these disasters come some hard-won lessons on the right (and wrong) way to embark on a renovation. So whether you’re thinking of buying a fixer-upper or you just want to see how fast a flip can go off the rails, here are a few of the biggest renovation mistakes from “Flipping 101” so far. Consider this a list of what not to do.
Don’t rely on YouTube to teach you how to flip a house
In the episode “Failing to Plan,” Lidia and Fernando have zero experience when it comes to construction and house flipping. So, El Moussa is surprised when Fernando says, “Our plan is to do a lot of the work ourselves.”
In fact, they plan to watch how-to videos online to learn how to fix up their Rancho Cucamonga, CA, house!
Right away, they realize that they can’t do it all on their own. But instead of hiring a professional contractor, they try to cut corners again by hiring someone sketchy who rips them off.
Twice, they learn the hard way that they need to spend money and hire professionals in order to get the job done right.
Don’t fight nonstop with your flipping partner
In the episode “Fighting All the Way,” El Moussa works with Jesus and Marco, brothers who can’t stop arguing over their Santa Ana, CA, flip.
Soon, El Moussa is fed up with the fighting.
“What’s the point of having two guys stand around fighting over every single detail?” El Moussa asks. “It’s a big waste of time, and it’s the primary reason why Marco and Jesus can’t grow their business.”
So El Moussa settles the disputes by putting the brothers in charge of different aspects of the project. Since Jesus has a background in real estate, El Moussa says he can have final say on buying and selling. Meanwhile, Marco, who has a background in construction, can have the final say on the renovation choices.
This arrangement helps considerably, and serves as a good reminder to us all that if you have members of your flipping team with different expertise, use that to your advantage.
Don’t forget to factor in installation costs
In the episode “Broken Slab to Totally Fab,” Cesar and Sahar flip a house in Anaheim, CA. Cesar knows that he often spends too much money on renovations, so he chooses a tile flooring that’s on sale, thinking he’s saving money. However, installing tile flooring can be expensive, and Cesar doesn’t account for the thousands of dollars that will cost.
El Moussa says the tile is nice, but laminate would have looked just as good—and would have saved them money.
“We thought we were going to spend about $50,000 on this flip, and we’re now, like, over 60 [thousand]” because of the tile installation costs, Sahar says ruefully.
Don’t delay ordering your material
When it comes to real estate, time is money. Even the smallest delays can mean big money in holding costs. In the episode “That New Flipper Smell,” it’s such a problem when novice flipper John doesn’t pick a tile for the kitchen backsplash in time.
When El Moussa finds out about the mistake, he’s disappointed, explaining that some of the biggest delays happen when materials aren’t chosen on time.
In order to finish this Fullerton, CA, house, they skip their top tile choice in favor of one that’s available immediately. Luckily, the tile they end up with looks fine—and keeps this flip moving forward.
Don’t forget to check your deliveries
In the episode “Horrible Hoarder House,” El Moussa realizes the countertop slabs in Allison and Armando‘s Cypress, CA, flip are different colors. This is a shame, because this problem could have been easily avoided if Allison and Armando had been paying attention when the counters were being installed.
Of course, buyers notice the color issue and it makes these flippers look bad. It’s a tough lesson, but this couple is sure to remember to keep an eye on every step of the renovation from now on.
Don’t take a huge design risk
In the episode “Dancing With Disaster,” Legacy and Patricia want to give their Brentwood, CA, kitchen a unique look. So, Patricia orders gray and white kitchen counters with grainy red oak cabinets. El Moussa warns that this particular combination will definitely look busy. Plus, he says, the oak cabinet style won’t be popular with buyers.
“People are ripping oak cabinets out of their houses,” he says, “not putting oak in.”
When the cabinets and counters are finally installed, El Moussa is proved right. Not only does the kitchen look dated, but the cabinets and counter don’t work well together.
So they have the cabinets refinished, and they end up looking better. Still, Patricia and Legacy likely would have had more success if they’d stuck to a more popular design.
Don’t go rogue on your flipping team
In “Shared Driveways, Slim Margins,” El Moussa helps married couple Victor and Deanna flip a house in South Los Angeles. But the team runs into some serious problems when Victor goes rogue and won’t take El Moussa’s style advice.
The three decide on a glamorous tile for the kitchen backsplash, but Victor later changes his mind and picks a plain white tile instead. Unfortunately, once installed, this white tile ends up looking dull.
“Here’s the thing,” El Moussa says disapprovingly, “I walked through that door, all I saw was white.”
Don’t leave outdated electrical that could start a fire
In the episode “A Baptism by Fire,” El Moussa teams up with Audrey and Anthony on a flip in Woodland Hills, CA. This mother-and-son duo gets in big trouble when the house catches fire. The fire causes extensive damage, but the worst part is, it could have been avoided.
“I think, possibly, some of the old electrical that we didn’t replace caused it,” Audrey says.
These two got a powerful and expensive lesson in making sure a flip is safe.
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