Cottage House Flip Kickoff Post!

Today is the day it all goes down, my friends—the long awaited, much anticipated, Official House Flip Kickoff Post!


In this post I’ll be spilling all the details—purchase price, estimated budget and my overall goal and purpose for this renovation. Now, let’s get down to business.

Quick background story so we’re all up to speed: I sold my last home in July after renovating while living in it for ~2.5 years. It was the third home I’ve remodeled over the course of eight years, and after returning to the states after becoming single and traveling last year, I decided to move to San Francisco while rehabbing/flipping homes full time.


The only problem is, I don’t have a spare 1-2 million bucks lying around to flip locally so I spent a few months house hunting back in the foothills/Sierra Nevadas where my last house was, and where my family still lives. My mom is my realtor, I already have a team of contractors who helped with my last house, and homes are affordable, so after carefully considering all of my options (including investing out of state), this made the most sense. I’ll have to deal with an 8 hour round trip commute almost every weekend, but it’ll be worth it.


About a month ago I found and fell in love with a property and put an offer in right away. It’s a 6 bedroom, 2 bath cottage built in 1956 with 1360 square feet. Here’s how it went down:

Their original asking price: $270,000, but they reduced after ~4 months on the market to $250,000. I offered $200k cash and they accepted right away. Woohoo!

Then, the inspection came and along with it a plethora of problems, including foundation issues, dry rot, failed septic tank, needing a new roof, retaining walls, new driveway, tree removal, new siding, etc. On top of all that, they had it advertised as a 1700 square foot 6 bed/2 bath, but the septic tank capacity is limited to a 3 bed/2 bath so it can only be advertised as such, and the actual measurement was only 1360.


With the exterior/structural repairs alone coming in at almost $50k, I lowered my offer to $155k but they made a firm counter at $190k. Taking into account my overall budget, I’d surely lose money at that price and I was crushed, figuring the deal was off. But there’s something about this house I just can’t walk away from, so I countered one last time with my absolute highest offer of $170k, pleading with them to meet me in the middle—and after a stressful few days, they finally accepted. Six days later the deal was closed.


Let’s talk about finances and budgeting.

After cashing out on three houses I had a decent chunk saved up and ready to roll into this flip, along with $40k from a private investor. That was enough to cover the house purchase but not the renovation—that will come in the form of a personal loan I found online. I can use hard money if the personal loan runs out and I absolutely have to, but I’m hoping to avoid the thousands of dollars in additional interest that would cost me.

It’s one thing to remodel a home slowly over time, but an investment is a completely different ballgame. Time is money and every dollar over budget is a dollar out of my own pocket, so I have to be diligent.

I’ve met with several different contractors and subcontractors and am still working out the specifics, but here’s my overall projected budget:

Foundation: $15k

Roof: $8k

Deck repair: $3k

Exterior paint: $6k

Retaining walls: $2k

Exterior window/door updates: $3k

Tree removal: $1k

New kitchen: $15k

Updated bathrooms: $6k

Staging/furniture/decor: $4k

Demolition: $1k

New wood floors: $11k

Lighting & electrical: $3k

Interior wallpaper prep & paint: $4k

Materials/misc: $5k

Loan fees/interest: $3k

Taxes, insurance & utilities: $3k

Total: $93k

As anyone whose ever budgeted for a remodel can attest to, the actual costs are always higher than projected—sometimes significantly—especially with a huge project like this. Realistically, if I stay under $100k I’ll be thrilled.

And to put things into perspective, I’m not doing this for the money. That is the ultimate goal with the path of investing, of course, but this is just a small stepping stone that will lead to bigger and better things. The housing market has been steadily rising for a while and great deals are very scarce, especially here in California. Flipping isn’t what it used to be just a few years ago.

Why am I doing this then? I want a challenge, I need a creative outlet, I crave the satisfaction of turning something ordinary into something beautiful—it’s my oxygen. It’s what I want to do all day, and I can’t imagine doing anything else right now. That is why I’m doing this. And I have this opportunity to take you all along with me, share my journey as I continue to learn and grow, and hopefully inspire some of you along the way. That’s all I want. Any dollar I earn from it is just icing on the cake.


I have a good feeling about this house, and already have the “After” images burned into my mind. I think it will be my favorite transformation yet. It’s going to require a whole lot of dedication and hard work, but I know I can handle it—I’ve faced harder situations and ended up much stronger from them, so now I welcome a good challenge 🙂

We’ve only got one life and it’s too short not to do something that excites you every day. It’s never too late to start, or to start over. Thank you for your continued support through all my twists & turns… here’s to another new adventure!

Next week I’ll go into detail about all the plans I have for each space, share the official “Before’s” as well as a Before Tour Video, the first part of a video series documenting the renovation.

Speaking of videos, I’m sharing some of my favorite ways to transition your home into fall with Wayfair this week:

There’s more collaborations with them on the way, in addition to my own flip update & DIY tutorials that I can’t wait to tackle in the coming weeks.

I’ll be back next week with a whole lot more—hope you’re enjoying the last week of September!



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36 thoughts on “Cottage House Flip Kickoff Post!

  1. I love it. I can absolutely see why it caught you and wouldn’t let go. It needs you.
    I can squint and see the Jenna magic that is going to happen. It’s going to be breathtaking. I just know it!! That image made me feel like I was standing right there and I could feel the vibe. Can’t wait to see what you do.

  2. Excited to see what you do 🙂 One day I’d love to work on an investment property but here in the burbs of Vancouver BC, the prices are INSANE. My house has doubled in value in 7 years. No joke.

    1. Girl you gotta sell that house and move to a cheaper city or downsize! Prime opportunity to make a ton of $, invest it, and make a ton more! 🙂

  3. So excited! When you begin, can you please explain where you start first (planning? budgeting? inspiration?).
    We just purchased our first home and I don’t know how to keep track of all my projects or even where to begin with them!


  4. What a challenge for you! You didn’t mention the septic tank in your repairs. Is that going to need replacing to comply with the size of the home?

    I look forward to watching your progress!

    1. Oops, you’re right. That could go into the misc. bucket. It’s a $600 repair so not too bad, and the size should be sufficient considering the capacity and usage of the home!

  5. great bones on the house! will love to follow along. do you have an estimated flip time until ready? considering you are working 40 hours a week. thank you for taking us on your ride!

  6. Are you going to look into sponsors to help with the budget? Like you budgeted $4k for staging, decor, and furniture. Any chance Wayfair can loan you some stuff to stage and get advertising? And would your contractors give you a deal if you advertise for them in the post?

  7. I am so glad you are doing these posts. This is great. My husband and I would love to flip houses but it’s not in our budget/time right now. I will be following along for the ride and cannot wait to see how you make out with everything! As a side note… I absolutely HATE wayfair. They are an awful company and I tell this to everyone I know. Terrible customer service and terrible company ethics. I’d ditch them if I were you. Peace

  8. So excited to watch the progress of your new flip project! I find your blog so inspirational! The part that really resonates with me is that it is never too late to follow your dream and start over. I too am at a crossroads in my life and I prayer for God to lead me in the right direction.
    Good luck on your project!!

  9. Jenna,
    I’m so thrilled for you and for all of us who admire and marvel at your good taste and creative talent. You excel at home renovation and I’m confident you’ll be successful with this home. I’m so happy you’ll be sharing the journey with us.

  10. I know this will be fun to see all the progress and how you transform the place. I think that you could have a cooking show also. The meals you whip up on Insta story look delicious , and you make it look so easy! Not to be nosy, but do you have the desire to renovate your boyfriend’s place, since you always have the most amazing homes?

    1. Thank you Sherri! I do love cooking 🙂 The apartment we’re living in is fully furnished and we can’t make any changes but I’m fine with that–I’d rather focus my efforts on the flip!

  11. So inspiring and im super excited to see this process unfold. I once thought I would love the renovation experience but here I sit in my 1950s house having not made much progress. Lol. Maybe you’ll inspire me with this house!

    Thank you for sharing such a personal level of detail – makes me feel involved. You’re going to rock this and I can’t wait to watch!

  12. I didn’t notice an estimate for the septic tank. I’ve heard they can be quite pricey.
    If anyone can bring this house to life, you can. You are amazing!

  13. Thanks for the post! Looking forward to reading along how your journey goes! I will be starting my first flip in the coming year as well, so looking forward to reading some tips and excitements that arise during the renovation! You mentioned you do flips in other areas. Have you considered New York?

  14. You are such an inspiration to me! I started following your blog right before your life-changing trip. I thoroughly enjoyed every post and learned so much about that part of the world through you. I’m getting ready to turn 50 and have been in education for almost 30 years. I am ready to do something else with life. Thank you for inspiring me to do so!

  15. Hi Jenna from the UK – I came across your makeover of ikea wardrobe doors last year via the Internet and have followed your journey ever since – I feel as if I know you and was so sorry to hear about your personal problems but I am delighted that you are still DIY -ing although probably on a bigger scale and purely for professional reasons – since last year I have been decorating the whole house mostly by myself – and have undertaken several projects that I would never have attempted if I hadn’t have come across your site – so I wish you every success and happiness in your new venture and will look forward to your blogs –

  16. My eyebrows always go up when I read that there are five or six bedrooms in a small house. It’s funny that people think they can get away with that stuff. I think that you can make this budget or stay pretty close to it anyway, as you personally have some skills to bring to the project. Good luck Jenna!

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