Walnut Street Finance Blog

Which Renovations Should You Handle Yourself and Which to Leave to the Pros

Posted by Walnut Street Finance Team on Jul 2, 2018 2:36:06 PM

One of the most tempting things to do during a fix and flip is to short-circuit the contractor process by taking care of renovations yourself. The problem is, this can end up costing you time and money - and if the job is big enough, it might just cost you your sanity, too.


In the interest of your investment property, we’ve put together a list of some popular renovations - some that you can do yourself, and others that should be left to the pros.

Renovations You Can Handle

These are relatively low-intensity, low-skill tasks that you can learn about online, or might already know how to do yourself.


Most fix and flips will require a new paint job at some point during the renovation process, whether inside or out. Luckily, it’s something you can figure out online or talking to someone at your local paint store. Exercise caution if you have to climb up on a ladder, but otherwise, if you’ve got the time and willingness, this is one alteration you can handle on your own.


Laying down tiling isn’t rocket science - like painting, you’ll need to use some precision when you’re putting it in, but it’s a pretty straightforward process. You can probably knock this out on a weekend with one trip to the hardware store, as long as you grab what you need to mix your adhesive, cut your tile, and lay it into place. It won’t be the most fun you’ve ever had on a Saturday, but you can save a pretty penny doing it yourself.

What to Leave to the Professionals

Unlike painting or tiling, there are some tasks that should almost always be left to professionals. Unless you have the experience and skill needed, you could end up botching the job, or worse, seriously injuring yourself or someone you’re working with.


Plumbing & Wiring

When it comes to plumbing, if you don’t know what you’re doing, don’t even think about taking care of it yourself. The last thing your property needs is flooding, a sewage leak, or both. A professional plumber can knock this out quickly and knowledgeably, and save you some cash in the long run.

As for electrical work, you might be able to learn a great deal through internet research, but ultimately, hiring a professionally trained electrician ensures that nobody gets hurt either during the renovation process, or at any point while inhabiting the house in the future. You will also want to make sure that the work is up to code, something that a trained professional will know about.

Structural Work

When you’re new to flipping, it’s easy to think that, if a wall has to go, you can simply blow through it with a sledgehammer. Unfortunately, if you’re not experienced with building design, it’s hard to tell whether a wall may be load-bearing, or may contain electrical wiring (which can become quite dangerous when struck with an axe or sledgehammer). Generally speaking, contractors are the only ones who should be altering the structure or layout of a house.

Kitchen Work

Lastly, kitchen work can be tricky whenever gas, electricity, or piping is involved. There are a litany of safety hazards to be aware of when laying out and installing these, and doing it incorrectly could not just get somebody hurt, but leave you open to serious legal liability in the future - that is, if the house somehow managed to even pass an inspection, upon which most sales are contingent.

The Bottom Line

Fix and flip investing is all about keeping down your costs - if that means doing work yourself can save you some money, then by all means, bring on the savings.

All we’re advising is to be smart, and to know your limits. Know what you’re capable of doing and what you should leave to the pros.

If you’d like to learn more about how to maximize profit on your next fix and flip, check out our free ebook, Essential Math for the Fix and Flipper.

Essential Math For the Fix and Flipper

Topics: Fix And Flip Advice, Home Renovation & Design Tips

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