It seems everyone is flipping houses these days, and unfortunately you can tell that by the quality of some of the houses popping up on the market. To properly renovate houses you need to have the knowledge and the know how of at least the basics. You need to know what requires a pro and what is a DIY project.
If you are a beginner and have good managing skills, then you can act as a general contractor on properties that you own; however, you cannot do contracting jobs on properties for others in most cases.
The basic rule of thumb is to hire electricians, HVAC, and plumbing contractors to do those parts of the renovation. If you have a good sense of design, then you can handle the selection of the finishes such as tile, carpet, paint, cabinets/countertops, roofing, siding, and landscaping, and of course if you have good hands-on skills, then you can try the tile and painting, and even the landscaping yourself.
One of the most common issues I see on flipped houses is the removal of load bearing walls to make a room more modern and open feeling; however, you need to know how to identify load walls and just regular dividing walls. In some cases, I will call in our structural engineer to verify what walls can go without modification. It is also a good idea to have the engineer certify the proper modification of load walls. The engineer will specify things such as beam size and material to be used. If you have a very observant home inspector, they could possibly recommend proper documentation to show that modification of the load-bearing wall was adequate.
When you are doing the basic updating to a house such as the cosmetics, generally building permits are not required (check with your building and permits office to verify) however the replacement of electrical panels, new circuits and HVAC unit replacements will require a permit and inspection. You should also expect to have structural modifications permitted as well.
In some areas permits are required for roof and siding replacements as well; once again a call to the permits office will verify.
In recent years I have seen mortgage companies require invoices from licensed contractors for the work. I also do not list houses as “completely renovated” unless everything but the framing and foundation has been replaced. I state that the property has been recently updated, as using the word “completely” could be interpreted as deceiving because not everything has been replaced.
If you repair and replace everything that is not in good condition or not functioning properly, then you are doing a great job. Any house that is not brand new has the potential to have issues, and buyers should expect that; however, you should renovate in good faith.
Lastly, the rule of thumb is that you make money in real estate when you buy it, not when you sell, being very observant when you do your walk-through prior to making your offer to purchase. You cannot turn a loss into a profit by cutting corners on the renovation.

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Duane Cotton
Master Builder at Build America Construction