When choosing to invest in a flip, there are several layers of investigation involved in every purchase. Flipping is a delicate process because on one hand, you are looking for crummy houses that no one else finds to be of significant value. On the other hand, you don't want to get stuck with a bigger renovation project then you're prepared to handle. Every flipper has their depth ranging from a coat of and new appliances to full interior redesign, sometimes of buildings that weren't even homes to start with. When looking into a new property and wondering if you should invest, make the most of your tour through the home and run down a checklist of performance and structural things to look out for. If the home fails at this stage, then there's no purpose in paying for a professional inspector. If it passes, then the inspection is worth the extra investment to get a full picture of the project ahead of you.
1) Try the Doors and Windows
The state of the doors and windows in a home often can't be assessed simply by looking at them. Even if the frames look to be in good shape and fit snugly, we advise opening and closing every door and window you can find. This will tell you if there are windows that stick and can reveal dangerously hidden disrepair in terms of doors that won't open easily or windows that have been jammed shut.
2) Light in the Attic
Take a moment to climb into the attic. You don't have to go far, just enough to see how it looks during a sunny part of the day. If light is coming in through the roof, you may have to deal with some serious roof repair expenses as part of any renovation plan. If not, check for signs of dampness or soft boards which could indicate a roof leak.
3) Run the Taps
The quality of the water in a home matters a great deal to both your experience flipping it and your ability to resell. Make sure to run several of the taps. Check the color, taste, and how long it takes for the water to heat up.
4) Look Under the Sinks
Under each sink is a collection of plumbing which can reveal the actual state of repairs in a home. New mis-matched pieces shows an active if DIY handyman while old rusty parts that shake when tapped show dangerous signs of age and disrepair. Dampness may also reveal a leaking problem.
5) Check for Mold
Mold in a home can be anywhere but the walls and floors are always the most suspect. Keep an eye out for wallpaper and, in general, plan to remove any wallpaper you find. When looking for mold, trust your nose and instincts. Look for places water could pool or gather and check under carpets wherever possible.
6) Sagging Roof
A sagging roof can be seen from the outside of the house as ridges that fall lower in the middle than at the corners. This sag is a clear indication of structural decay and you may be looking at massive roof repairs or even an entirely new roof installation. However, sagging doesn't necessarily mean a leak so it may be a longer term problem and worth considering.
7) Read the Water Heater
Don't just take a look at the water heater and judge it by the grime, actually read what's written on the labels and repair notes. This will tell you the age, make, and model of the unit and depending on the practices of the last handyman, it might even print the date of the most recent repair.
8) Try the Lights and Fuse Box
Flip every lightswitch and dimmer knob you can find in the house to see what it does and if it works. While not every home will have all the light bulbs in place, this can give you an idea of the state of the wiring. Take a look at the fuse box as well to ensure it's not a dangerous mess.
9) Test the Outlets
One of the most useful if somewhat silly-looking tests you can do in a potential flip is to carry around a small lamp or device to plug into each outlet. If the lamp lights up, the outlet is good. If it doesn't, you're looking at an incomplete wiring job or something wrong behind the walls.
This is only the first half of the checklist. Stay tuned and contact us for more detailed information on how to find a great flip!