House flipping tip of the week: Finding good contractors is a huge key to your success when flipping houses. There are 2 kinds of contractors, General Contractors, or GC’s, and Sub-Contractors. Most investors hire a GC who then brings in his own sub-contractors, oversees all their work and tacks on about 30% to your price.
This works great for people who have little construction knowledge or don’t want to spend the time ordering materials, checking in deliveries, writing checks on Fridays to subs and overseeing work.
My feelings are that most investors are doing this anyway and basically acting as their own GC, so shouldn’t be paying for one. Homeowners these days are even acting as GC to save the 30% and hiring subs themselves while building their new home.
There’s even a national company called U-BuildIt that sets you up with the list of subs for a fee. So, the key to the savings is finding the subs and managing them yourself. (more)
Another good tip for flipping is the get a mentor who can help you and you will fast track your career.
We passed plumbing rough-in and top out inspections this week at Target House and have now got started on the electrical. My electrician is getting a slow start so I am kind of disappointed but its par for the course here in Land of Manana, especially when you are getting great prices. I am going to stay on his ass all week and try for an inspection Friday. On the exterior I am completely done with all the siding and window trims on the new portion of the house and have started working my way forward replacing various sections on the original siding where I moved windows or there was damage. There will be alot of changes once I get up front rebuilding the porch, porte cochere and columns so that’s exciting. On the new back porch ceiling I used authentic 1×4 tongue and groove bead board, sweet!
The San Antonio housing market certainly showed signs of Tax Credit fever while everyone scrambled last week for the handout. I’ve been tracking the Pending sales and as you can see they rose by about 100 houses for each week in April all the way up until the cut off of Friday. It will be interesting to see 2 things from here, if the Pending sale growth continues and how many pendings actually close and turn into solds. The San Antonio Spring buying season typically is just now heating up, we’ll see how bad the tax credit affected future demand shortly. There are currently 11,455 homes for sale, down from 11,697 last weekend.
The new plumber got started mid week at The Target House and is moving fast towards the rough-in inspection which should probably happen Monday. I am impressed with the guys on his crew, they are very detail oriented, we even addressed the baseboard height so the water valves for the toilets will be at the right height. I am running 8″ high baseboards again on this project to mimic the houses original design so this puts the water valves higher than usual. All the new Pex lines are ran and as you can see he brought all new pvc drains and tied them in under the old existing bathroom to the main sewer line by removing the old cast iron stack. This is the right way to do it, we aren’t trying to tie into anything old so there wont be any problems for the new owner. I had also asked him to minimize roof penetrations for the plumbing vents. Every drain needs a vent so a lazy plumber would have poked through my new roof 5-6 times but instead these guys tied all the vents together in the attic so I only have 3 vents visible. I had to put my siding project on hold as its been raining all week, looking forward to finishing it as soon as the weather cooperates and the mud dries up.
The sale of The Neighbor’s House is still looking good. The buyer is using a VA loan and we are currently waiting for the appraisal to come back as this will be the last big uncertainty before closing. I got a call from the apprasier Monday asking a bunch of questions about The Hat Trick House next door, as I guessed they are infact using it as the best comp for this sale. What were the chances of rehabbing 2 houses next door to each other and needing my own comp?
Saturday morning the plumbers beat me to the punch. I got there at 8 and there were already 6 guys all over the place and a strong odor of PVC glue in the air. My plumber brought in a new construction crew and they roughed in the whole house with a complete new system in 1 day! Monday he’ll run the new gas line and we’ll call in for an inspection Tuesday. This week I also opened up 3 interior walls creating more of an open floorplan, doing a different kind of arch this time with square corbels on the bottom. Monday the roofers finished and he apologized for trying to raise the price on me? o.k… I also wrapped the house with Tyvek and installed all the dual pane vinyl windows after they arrived midweek. I remember about 10 years ago putting in my first set of retrofit vinyl dual pane windows in my personal home, a buddy of mine who is actually a general contractor told me not to ever use foam because it would cause the windows to warp when the foam expands. This was in San Diego where it’s always 75 and sunny and probably wouldn’t matter but here in Texas it’s the code and the homebuilders foam everything including the new construction windows inside before the drywall goes in. You want to create a tight envelope in order to be more energy efficient. With these new windows, a high efficiency A/C, roof vents and new insulation in the attic the future homeowner will benefit greatly with a low power bill. Our buyer of the Hat Trick House next door has a electricity bill in the $100’s while most other original homes in the area are paying around $300/month. Hey don’t get me wrong; I love original sashed historic windows with wavy glass, but not at $300 per month. While doing the new windows I also went ahead and also redid the wood trim because for the cost and labor saved in stripping and sanding, my paint job will come out killer now. Next up to bat will be getting HVAC and Electrical sub-contractors through the house, we’ll see who I can corral this week. We are moving at a really nice pace, I’ve scheduled it so I can be doing projects while the subs are busy without getting in their way.
We passed plumbing this week but failed A/C inspection yesterday due to some minor details overlooked by my sub-contractor, which have already been addressed. Second mechanical inspection is set for Monday.
After passing plumbing I went ahead and installed the new plywood sub floor and set the tub in the hall bath and shower pan in the master bath.
As soon as we pass the mechanical inspection I can call for the framing inspection. It seems odd and out of order the way San Antonio does it, they inspect framing after all the tradesmen have finished.
If something were incorrect you would have to rip out all those sub contractors new work, weird. So the schedule is: pass mechanical Monday. Call in framing inspection for Tuesday.
Pass framing Tuesday and schedule the insulation inspection for Wednesday. Once we pass the insulation inspection we can hang all the drywall. My drywall crew is chomping at the bit and ready to get started. I am going to have it delivered Thursday, 225 sheets to do the whole 1930 s.f. house, 5/8” for the ceilings and 1/2” on the walls.
Take one last look inside these walls, next time you see the house it will be all sealed up. This is always a huge milestone for me; to see the house with all new drywall really shows how it will look. It blocks out all the “old house” smell and it’s all downhill from there, baby.
We’ve been monitoring sales activity a little closer lately and I ran some interesting reports out of MLS last night. In our little “area” there were only 9 sales in 2008, (2 of which were ours) and avg. price was 206k. In Q1 08 there were no transactions, so far this year we have 6 pending or sold. Average price on these 6 is 257k.
That’s an increase in sales activity of 600% and an avg. price increase of 19% Y.O.Y. Currently there are only 4 months of inventory making it essentially a sellers market. While the overall market has slowed down in San Antonio our area seems to be a bright spot. The Craftsman Bungalow sold for $174/s.f. last year setting a record for high comp based on $/s.f.
The avg. price per s.f. is closer to $155.00 so with Hat Trick being 1930 s.f. and the level of rehab we plan on listing it for around $289k –$299k. The only thing better than setting a high comp for a neighborhood is getting to come back and use that comp in your next sale!