Avoid custom anything and buy off-the-shelf
We have several choices when it comes to Big Box Home Improvement Stores to select from in Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. They sell “off-the-shelf” cabinets, which are made by Hampton Bay or other comparable brands. They only come in a limited amount of sizes, but when you combine with spacers, you can make it work for almost every kitchen. There are many finishes with a basic door style. The fronts are solid wood, and the sides are plywood covered in a thin veneer. This may sound less than desirable, but unless you are using custom cabinets, most cabinet boxes are not solid wood which is just fine.
In one instance, a flipper I know was able to get almost everything they needed for their kitchen through this off-the-shelf cabinet line, but they didn’t offer a panel for their refrigerator and needed one to complete the custom look. They noticed another custom cabinet company had what looked like the exact same color, compared the samples, took a leap and ordered the refrigerator panel. No one ever noticed as it was such a good match, saved a ton of $$$ and it looked like a custom kitchen.
Since wood is a natural product, color variations are normal so use this to your advantage. The panel is an almost exact match, and the slight difference can be contributed to natural variations in the wood. The flipper spent $2,000 on the off-the-shelf cabinets. The custom brand would have cost more than $5,000 for almost the exact same thing. So if you prefer that cash in your pocket, this is a great way to go! This is also a great way to save on home rehab costs.
Check Out the “Oops” Paint Selection
Do you know most places that custom color paint will make mistakes from time to time? This is your chance to swoop in for a bargain. Using quality paint is a lesson seasoned flippers learned the hard way. They bought the cheap $15 a gallon paint and ended up putting on 5 coats to cover the darker walls. Five coats! Never again. Now they use the paint-with-primer, which is about $35 a gallon but covers in one coat. Twice the price, 1/5 the work. Sold. Except it isn’t always twice the price.
Flippers and Landlords are in home improvement stores a lot. (Once, the cashier said to a friend of mine, “You look familiar…” to which they replied, “Yes, I am in here every single day.”) Whenever they have an extra minute, they swing by the paint department, even if they are not yet to the painting stage and check out their “oops” paint section, the shelf where they put the paint they miss-colored. Maybe they used the wrong base paint; perhaps it wasn’t the right finish. They really don’t care what the problem was because you can have them replicate it if I need more than one gallon and the $7 price tag is a huge bonus. If you are doing a lot of painting, the higher quality paint can also save you on labor. Save on home rehab costs in the Oops section of your home improvement center.
Don’t Write Off Big Bargain Stores or Re-Use Centers
Did you know that Costco sells tile? It isn’t guaranteed they will have it in stock now, but from time to time you can find some pretty amazing mosaic tile. A homeowner’s kitchen backsplash was purchased at Costco for $5/sq. ft. It was glass, travertine (a perfect match to the travertine floor) and Emperador marble. It looked beautiful with honey maple off-the-shelf cabinets from Home Depot.
They also sell wood and laminate flooring at very competitive prices, in addition to light bulbs, light fixtures, faucets, garbage disposals, toilets, etc. Their inventory changes quickly, and just because they sold it in the past doesn’t mean you will be able to find it again. So keep your eyes out, and you may be surprised to see some great bargains on materials.
And the ReStore and/or Re-Use retailers have amazing bargains to be found. We recently updated a bathroom in a duplex from smelly and gross to clean and inviting for under $3,000. Some of the materials were new from big box stores at over 50% off. This can be budget savers especially on projects that have gotten out-of-hand.
Improve the curb appeal with hearty plants and discount mulch
In the spring, everyone sells plants. Landscaping companies, home improvement companies, even the grocery stores. A few well-placed plants can make a huge impression. An all-time favorite is the Purple Fountain Grass. An investor partner I know bought it last year when they were installing landscaping. Each plant cost about $6. If you live in areas with no rain or just wish to have a yard that requires less maintenance, think about using drought-resistant plants. Enter Mr. PFG (Purple Fountain Grass). It grew to an impressive 3 feet tall and 3 feet wide in only one growing season. Even when he was first planted, he looked beautiful. Another winner is Salvia, which is also drought resistant.
Once your plants are in, cover up the surrounding areas with mulch. In the spring, you can find bags of mulch for around $2.50 a bag. But wait! Those big box stores use forklifts to move pallets of mulch around. Sometimes the forklift goes right through the bag. Instead of throwing that bag away, they tape it up and add it to the pile of ripped bags. They sell those for $1 so stockpile those whenever you can find them and use the same color all the time. Hardy plants improve curb appeal and improve profits on your flip.
When possible ask your friends and family for suggestions
A friend who lived in Chicago saw ads for a Tile Outlet on almost every TV station. They were cheesy, low-budget ads and always featured the same woman with bad hair. They all ended the same with that silly jingle that stayed in your head.
When they started flipping houses, they asked friends where they bought their supplies, and they all said they bought their tile at Tile Outlet. Every. Single. One. So we took a drive, and our jaws dropped. Absolutely gorgeous tile at ridiculously low prices. On some closeout items, they require you buy the rest of what is there, but mostly there are such large quantities, you only need to buy what you will use.
But based on their silly commercials, they wouldn’t have gone in there on their own. Asking their friends garnered some pretty amazing suppliers.
There is an expression “rinse and repeat” when the system is working!
When you come up with a great color palette for your flips use the same materials over and over because you know how to work with them. Use the same cabinet knobs in every house, because they look good, yet are inexpensive. They are sold in packs of 10, and it doesn’t matter if you only need 21 for this house; If you have some left over from the last one or just used up your stash, they buy more because you know those extra 9 will be used in the next place.
A flipper I know used 18″ travertine tile because it is cheap. It’s a natural stone, so there isn’t anything to match because none of it matches. It looks stunning and doesn’t cost much more than plain ceramic. If you have too much left over from the current house, just store it in the garage until you buy the next one.
Flipping houses or being a landlord can be exceptionally profitable. Save money when and where you can, so you can spend it when you need to.
And if you are looking for below market deals on real estate then give www.TriStateDiscountRealEstate.com a call or text and we’ll look forward to working with you. And if you want immediate access to our inventory at 30%-50% off retail then fill out our investor quick form.