227 – Walkthrough Rehab Estimate–Step Two–Exterior

This week, we’re going to talk quoting rehab. When you go check out a house for the first time, you will need to do a quick walkthrough rehab estimate. In my case, when I get a house on my radar and go check it out, I spend ten minutes in the house at most and add up rough estimates of the numbers in my head–it’s not scientific, but it gives me a ballpark of what the rehab would cost. I’ve done this for many years, so my quick estimates are generally pretty spot on. I want to explain to you how I do this.

Today, I’m going to go through how I estimate costs for the rehab of the exterior of a property.

Before I go into this, I want to give a quick disclaimer: I live in Michigan where we have four very distinct seasons, and the way I look at the exterior of a house really depends on the season. This may not be the case for you.

I generally don’t spend a lot of money on exteriors. That said, any property must have curb appeal.

  1. I typically look at the roof first, because it has the biggest impact on whether or not the job is going to be profitable. If the roof needs to be replaced, I have to factor that in. Most of the houses I look at are around 900-1500 square feet. For a 1000 square foot house, I estimate that a complete tear-off the roof is going to cost me about $6,000. It might cost less, but I want to be conservative.
  2. In terms of landscaping, I don’t do a lot. If there are already bushes there, I do my best to make them look clean and presentable. If there’s no landscaping there, I create landscaping: I add hearty bushes and maybe some flowers for color. I generally don’t expect to spend more than $5o0-$600 on landscaping. It doesn’t need to be impressive, it just needs to look simple and clean.
  3. If the shutters are looking bad, I might paint them.
  4. If it’s a brick house, I’m ecstatic because it won’t need to be painted. If it’s wood-frame, I might need to paint it. I try to avoid it if I can just power-wash instead.
  5. When it comes to sidewalks and cement work, if it’s in halfway decent condition, it’s staying. In some cases, there might be trip hazards so I might have to replace some sections of the cement.
  6. Looking at a garage, I’m going to be less critical of the garage roof than I would be of the house roof. If it looks decent, it’s probably going to stay as is. Painting a garage is very rare. However, an attached garage pretty much has to follow the same rules as the main house.
  7. As far as the backyard goes, simple is the way I go. Backyards are usually not part of the curb appeal. I’m going to do more clean-up and removal than landscaping.

Everything I just said applies to the summer months, but during the winter months, while there might be fewer houses and buyers, landscaping is completely meaningless. Especially if you have a lot of snow on the ground, you can almost ignore the outside of the house. You can’t pour concrete or paint in the winter, so you can really save money on the outside. However, in most cases snow and ice is also covering the roof, and that’s a problem. If the roof is in bad condition, it needs to be replaced in any season. During your walkthrough, you should get up there with a shovel and scrape off some snow so you can see if the roof need to be replaced. Don’t try to get away with not replacing a roof that needs to be replaced.

As a general rule, keep the exterior simple and clean, and don’t spend too much money on it. Do what needs to be done, but don’t go crazy.

Tomorrow we are going to go through the interior of a house.

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  1. Coleman Nelson on 09/13/2014 at 5:24 PM

    Mike, thanks for walking us through this. How bad does a roof need to be for you to replace it on a flip? Say it’s 15-20 years old but is in decent shape with no leaks…just looks old. Would you replace it? Or if it’s stained? Or only if it is damaged and leaking? Thanks!

    • Mike Simmons on 09/15/2014 at 2:31 PM

      If the roof is not leaking and “looks” decent (no shingles peeling up, no visible distress) I will generally leave it.

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