This home upgrade might be a waste of money



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Tarek El Moussa of “Flip or Flop” fame now teaches novice house flippers his time-proven tricks on his new show, “Flipping 101 With Tarek El Moussa.” But as the latest episode makes painfully clear, some of his protégés need more guidance than others.

In the episode “Communication Breakdown,” El Moussa helps flippers Pino and Patsy with a house in Sylmar, CA. The house cost them only $375,000, but it may be more trouble than it’s worth. Between an expensive addition and a retaining wall that’s caving into the backyard, El Moussa isn’t sure Pino and Patsy will ever get a buyer, even with his help.

Yet in the end, El Moussa manages to turn this house around. Read on to find out how he helps these flippers save money on the renovation while not sacrificing style. His budget-friendly suggestions might inspire a few changes in your own home, too.

In an inexpensive home, high-end materials are a waste of cash


Patsy and Pino have already renovated three houses before this one. Unfortunately, they didn’t make a profit on any of them. In fact, they lost money.

But right away El Moussa realizes why they’ve been in the red: Pino has expensive tastes.

First, Pino wants to install black, stainless appliances, which El Moussa says are too expensive. Then, when picking out a backsplash, Pino wants to install marble that’s $14 per square foot. Once again, El Moussa pushes back.

“OK, you never, ever spend $14 a foot on a house like this,” he says.

Meanwhile, Patsy suggests a simple subway tile laid in a herringbone pattern, and they end up going with her pick. When the kitchen is finished, the backsplash looks great—and it didn’t break the bank.

In the end, it’s a good lesson in investing in the right materials.

Choose light flooring for small spaces


While Pino doesn’t have the right instincts when it comes to the tile selection, he does choose very stylish flooring.

Both he and Patsy pick light wood-tone flooring — a smart choice because this color will keep the small home feeling bright, light, and open. Plus, at just $2.79 per square foot, this flooring is right on budget.

When El Moussa first sees the sample, he says simply, “Great choice.”

Create a convenient place to do laundry

While most people would like to have a dedicated laundry room, with a table for folding and a sink for washing, not every house has the space.

Pino and Patsy’s house, for instance, doesn’t even seem to have room for a washer and dryer.

When El Moussa first tours the property, he finds the washer/dryer hookup outside (which El Moussa points out is definitely not permitted). He notes that the most convenient place for a washer and dryer is in the hallway by a bathroom. Even though El Moussa knows this placement will mean losing the double vanity in the bathroom, he says it’s the right choice.

He proves that not every house needs a laundry room, but all buyers will at least need convenient access to their washer and dryer.

Bathroom size can be more valuable than bedroom size


While El Moussa says it’s OK to sacrifice bathroom space for a necessity like a washer and dryer, he isn’t willing to sacrifice shower space for a larger kid’s bedroom.

“The size of this bathroom is way more valuable than making a kid’s bedroom bigger,” El Moussa says. “You’ve got to remember, you’re selling the houses first and foremost to the adults.”

When the renovation is done and buyers are finally touring the property, they are so impressed with the bathrooms that they barely notice the smaller bedrooms.

The exterior is just as important as the interior


While this house has a big backyard, El Moussa isn’t able to appreciate the space. As soon as he steps into the yard, he spots the unsightly retaining wall and notices that it’s tilting. Not good!

Patsy and Pino begin discussions with the neighbors to fix the wall, but by the time they put the house on the market, it’s still not finished. El Moussa worries this might scare some buyers away.

As expected, potential buyers notice the fence.

“The wall looks like it’s going to fall down,” one buyer says when he walks into the yard.


Another buyer notices that, unfortunately, she can see the wall from the kitchen window.

“I do not want to have my morning coffee and look at that,” she says.

El Moussa is disappointed to see so many buyers mention the wall, especially since Pino and Patsy worked so hard to make the house itself look great. Still, it’s a good reminder that while a house may look great inside, the exterior still matters to buyers.

Is the latest ‘Flipping 101’ tutorial a success?

Pino and Patsy face some big problems with their renovation. From issues with picking out materials to an unsteady retaining wall, this property presents lots of challenges. For a while, it seems like Pino and Patsy’s streak of unprofitable flips may continue.

However, this problematic flip turns into a major success story when Patsy and Pino receive an offer of $728,000. After buying the property for $375,000 and spending $140,000 on the rehab, they stand to make a massive profit.

It looks like El Moussa’s tutorials may be paying off!

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