It’s Not Always Like It Is On HGTV!

We’ve all watched these house shows and fantasized about finding a fixer upper, rehabbing it ourselves, and then resold it for a nice profit.  Unfortunately, most rehabs don’t work out like that or if they do there is a lot of emotional and financial stress that comes with it.  Every show starts with a house that needs work, they start the rehab, there are a few problems they need to solve, and then it all wraps up happily ever after in a half hour.  We’ve rehabbed hundreds of homes and this is an example of a house that I thought would’ve been perfect for the show..but it didn’t work out like that.

Property Details

This property was in National City in San Diego County.  Property had 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms and wasabout 1500 sq ft on  a semi busy road with a large pool and un-permitted addition.   We got the property at a decent price and budget about $45,000 to rehab the house.  We purchased the house in late May which would get us to list right around July with a 4-5 week rehab.    After first inspections, the property looked like it was in good shape but after purchase and sellers moving out we noticed a lot more.

Scope Of Work

Property had a small rehab about 5 years ago. The kitchen and both bathrooms were remodeled but the owner was a smoker so it didn’t really help.  We were going to keep the kitchen but decided it was outdated and didn’t want to arrange the whole house after the kitchen.  We put in new floors, windows, interior/exterior paint, landscape, bathrooms, kitchen, sprinklers, doors, and new appliances.


Our first problem started was when the sellers husband would not leave the backyard.  He had major drug issues and was living in the backyard with a couple of his friends.  They had a dog and were polite enough but wouldn’t leave and take all their junk with them.  We finally got them out by calling pet control but this took months.

Second problem was the pool.  I will never buy another property with a pool.  It was green when we got it and had a ton of animals living in it.  I had a bunch of different quotes on it and went with a middle ground guy but he was terrible.  Pool stayed green for months and then I finally had to fire him and use someone else who was okay but was impossible to get a hold of.  He got it clean but every week the agent would call me and say the pool is green again 🙁

Third problem was the driveway.  On first glance, it looked fine until you drove on it and your whole car would bottom out.  We had a perfect buyer for the house and at first inspection he drove his new car into the driveway and scraped his whole car.  He cancelled the next day.

Last big problem was the sewer drain.  After multiple inspections they found the drain to the sewer pipe was cracking and old.  It needed to be replaced and it is on the owner of the property not the city to fix it.  It cost an extra 10k to replace.    But at least I got to see what a sewer drain looks like.

Flip Conclusion

After it was all said and done our rehab cost about $75,000.  Over $30,000 more than we budgeted for.  It took over 5 months from start to finish.  I guess it could’ve been worse but it definitely wasn’t an HGTV special.

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