Budget Breakdown: Cottage House Flip


Today I’m here to answer the burning question you’ve all been wondering… just how much did this Cottage House Flip cost?

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I spoke about the purchase price, remodeling plans and estimated budget in the Cottage House Flip Kickoff post back in October, so it’s interesting to go back and see how accurate my predictions were. Turns out, there were a few unexpected surprises, both good and bad. This is my experience, and the lessons learned.

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While I am so glad to have gone through this process and don’t regret it for a second, I certainly wouldn’t repeat this situation again. The situation being buying a house at a not so steep discount in a very small/buyer specific market that’s 3+ hours from home just before winter. At the time, it really was the best option for me and I was aware of the drawbacks, but decided it was worth it anyway. And it was.

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But now that I’ve paid my dues, I’m going to be much pickier with what I choose to take on. This is a several month process that can easily consume your life, and you don’t want to be miserable each day or dread even having to think about it.

With that said, let’s talk about the costs involved.

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The purchase price was $170k, and my estimated rehab budget, not including seller closing costs, was around $93k—and I said I’d be happy if I stayed under $100k.

Fortunately, I had a very big advantage with a storage unit full of furniture/decor from my old house, the sellers that left all of their existing furniture, and brand partnerships who provided most of the rest (which I was not expecting!)

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These factors combined made my decor/staging/materials expenses almost nothing. It has been such a blessing to be in this position and I do not take for granted how insanely lucky I am.

On the other end of that, though, are crazy high labor expenses. Which brings me to a very important lesson learned: hire one contractor for everything. 

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I started off with a bad contractor who not only cost me a few weeks, but I had to pay another contractor to fix the damage he had caused. Make sure to have a signed contract with a clear timeline before any work begins.

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To save money, I had a separate electrician, plumber/tile guy, demo team and painter lined up, which became difficult to schedule around my general contractor’s team since everything had to be done in order and communication is so hugely important. I ended up paying twice for several jobs that needed to be redone. Never again.

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Apart from those rookie mistakes, there were unknown factors out of my control like dry rot in the back of the house and electric circuits that needed to be rewired. And then there were last minute decisions on things like add a concrete landing pad and wall with built in shelving under the house to create a mud room, pouring gravel along the sides and front of the house, recaulking every wall and ceiling board downstairs, and many other cosmetic extras that weren’t necessary but I wanted to go the extra mile to make things perfect. You’ve got to step up your game a little when Country Living is coming to shoot.

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In the end, there were so many extra line items that were added to the original estimate that I was simply billed hourly every week and impossible to separate it out by each individual job, so unfortunately I can’t break it down as much as I’d like.

My electrician total came to $4k ($1k more than my original estimate) while interior painting was $2700—around $1k less than budgeted, but he left without finishing and I had to pay to have it completed.

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My plumbing and tile installation total clocked in at $4200, but that was only for the upstairs bathroom, laundry room and half of the downstairs bathroom. The rest was part of my general contractor total and probably ended up in the same $4-$5k range.

The demo/hauling expenses weren’t quite as bad—around $500 for carpet and furniture removal and a few other miscellaneous things, but there was a good portion also built into my general contractor bill. Probably another thousand or so.

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The biggest single labor expense was redoing the foundation and siding on the front of the house, which came in at around $15k. A few unexpected items were $1100 to replace damaged ceiling boards in the kitchen, $3k for the exterior deck ceiling, and $2600 to repair the back deck dry rot.

All in all, the main labor & materials cost (not including the electrician, demo, interior paint and plumbing/tile work mentioned above) came to a whopping $80k (from an original estimate of $44k, yikes!)

Fortunately, I was able to cut way back on the staging costs by using as much as I could from storage. I also picked up new items at the Restore, thrift stores, Ebay and Ikea, and those came in at under $1500. It pays to bargain hunt! And bonus, I’m taking a lot of it with me for the next house 🙂

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And then there’s the operating expenses. Taxes and escrow fees came in at $2500, plus another $1900 for property insurance, $3700 in utilities and an estimated $1700 in private loan interest. Total monthly carrying costs from here on out are in the $600-$700 range.

That brings the final grand total to $102,248. Not too far from the original budget! Keep in mind, this isn’t exactly your typical flipping model with so much of the focus on custom details, higher end finishes and staging. The labor costs weren’t out of the ordinary and should be an eye opener for those looking into rehabbing an older house, or who care about the small details.

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Every house is very different, and has its own set of challenges and benefits. If your main goal was to turn a profit, it wouldn’t make sense to buy a quirky 6 bedroom vacation home in a tiny village in the woods (which is why it sat on the market for a very long time before I found it—no one else would touch it).

The house is currently on the market at $325k. There have been a few interested parties but we haven’t made a deal yet. There aren’t a lot of homes in the area (nor people looking, especially at this time of year) so it’s just going to take time to find the right family who is the perfect fit.

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I’d love to hang onto this home forever—have friends & family over for weekend getaways, use it as an AirBnB, pass it down through generations. That would be my dream! But I need the capital to continue to rehab (all of my money is tied up in this one).

Thankfully, even after closing costs (which is expected to be around $20k) I’ll still walk away with more than my original investment. It won’t be a home run, as expected, but the sense of accomplishment, the growth and opportunities that have come out of this are worth more.

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I hope this post has been insightful for anyone else going through their own flip or rehab, considering it or just curious about the specifics behind it. There really is so much involved and it’s a lot for one person to manage at once. I’m beyond thankful for my amazingly helpful and supportive family & friends and contractors who went above and beyond. Couldn’t have done it without any of them. It truly takes a village!

As this post is published, I’ve just arrived in Florida for two weeks of weddings, bridal showers and soaking up some sun on the beach. I have a pretty big announcement when I come back. It’s going to change this blog in a major way… so you won’t want to miss it 😉

But before that—next week is Giveaway Week! I’m so excited to have some amazing shops and brands on board who were a big part of this renovation, and now you’ll have a chance to get in on some of the action. Stay tuned for Monday!

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34 thoughts on “Budget Breakdown: Cottage House Flip

  1. Such an amazing house! I’ve been following since Florida and am always so impressed with your work ethic and your love for beautiful houses. Thanks for sharing with us!

  2. Thank you for sharing the numbers! We recently did our first flip and decided to share the financial part too because it’s not always as easy or lucrative as TV shows make it seem. 😉 You did a beautiful job (as always) and I know someone will fall in love with it!

  3. Thanks for sharing these details and suggestions! You have become one of my favorite Youtubers/DIYers. I am about to close on my first home and hope to remodel (slowly) and sell in a couple years, so these tips are greatly appreciated 🙂

    Cannot wait to see what is in store next!

    Kindly,
    Ashley

  4. So many congratulations, Jenna! Loved following you on this flip, and you are right, so few people are willing to share the breakdown of what things cost – they spend more time on describing decor, giving DIY advice, etc. So I love that you have decided to bravely branch out and give the harder side of flipping! You’re a rockstar. Definitely pumped for your next announcement!

  5. Following since the beginning and am so amazed by the outcome. It is GORGEOUS!!! I know you will sell soon and the next owner will be in love with it. I’m totally envious!
    Have a great couple of weeks and can’t wait to hear what’s in store for us next. Talk about cliffhanger!!!!

  6. Thanks so much for the details on the flip. Fingers crossed for a quick sale! I’ll bet the new owners will want to purchase it as is, furniture and all! I would! I can’t wait to see what you do next!

  7. All I know is I would be crying my eyes out the day the house sells! It’s absolutely beautiful. Looking forward to your next one!

  8. We are actually looking for a place over there. The house wasn’t what we were looking for, but I took a peek online anyway. Wow! While later looking for ideas for making the faux deer antlers, I found your blog. SUPER HAPPY!!! Looking forward to seeing more in the future!

  9. This journey with you has been amazing! I have paused and lingered on every word of your posts, studying and dissecting each and every picture. It have savored it all, like Christmas morning, lol! I have learned as well! I have two upcoming DIY’s, thanks to you for bolstering my confidence! Thank you for sharing this with us……Can’t wait to see what is next! 😀

  10. Hi Jenna, so you paid $170K put in $102 and expect to pay another $20K to close (isn’t that the most annoying cost?) from $325 purchase. Which makes the profit $33K. Am I missing something? I think that is very good. I have flipped 7 houses and averaged $15k from them, my best was $24K. I, in no way, do your level of work, however. I made sure the garbage was hauled out, the systems worked, the title was cleared and then I had the carpets washed. We have found that we do much better money-wise if we actually live in the house for a couple of years before we sell, but then it becomes a family project and the spouse has to be on board. Well done!

    1. Hi Vanessa, that is correct assuming it sells for that! There’s also the monthly holding costs to account for, and moving/storage unit/gas costs if you want to include everything 🙂 But yes, can’t really complain!

  11. I came across your extraordinary talent when you did that wonderful bathroom for the one room challenge…which I have to tell you I copied as much as I could when I just remodeled mine:) I check your blog a few times a week and everything you do just hits home with me. I am in the process of remodeling my own home and I have taken your source list and purchased many of the same things you’ve used along with the paint colors and I cannot tell you how centered my soul feels when I walk in the door:) Keep up the great work and I will keep following your designs and I’m sure incorporating them into my own home!

  12. I am so proud of you Jenna. The house is just beautiful and has your touch on every single space. Enjoy your greatly deserved time in Florida.

  13. I love everything about your charming cottage, it is so beautiful! You are a true perfectionist! As you say the right family will come along and fall in love with it. Wish you could keep it too, I’d be on-line booking it right now! You answered a question I posted earlier from a different thread about having to re-wire. These older homes have so much personality but often require more work resulting in unbudgeted costs. Gosh, after all these months you deserve a long and relaxing break so enjoy your time in Florida…can’t wait for the big announcement! 😊

  14. Such a beautiful home! I rehab furniture and of course mainly for a profit. But at the same time, I find so much satisfaction in SAVING something that was headed to the dump. This is how I feel about your house. Yes, you want to make money of course, but you just saved this home from being torn down. Another families memories and childhood saved for another 30+ years! Great work girl!

  15. Such a gorgeous home. If I lived closer I’d buy it in a heartbeat but I’d want it completely furnished and with all your special touches. I’d love to stay in it if you kept it and used it as an AirBnB!

  16. Wow this looks great.
    It seems to be a really difficult way to make a living though, when the free family help and the sponsored freebies are costed in…

  17. How beautiful! I recently found your blog as i bought my first home, and was looking for DIY inspiration. You are a pretty rad woman! Amazing work.

  18. You did a great job-I have enjoyed watching the process. Will you be offering your services in the CA area? I often consider moving an the purchase of a home in the NoCal region. I currently am looking in Pacific Grove, but would need someone to put their magic touch on a home. There is a home on the market for $699K, an with $100k or more-could be a gem…

  19. I hope for your sake the next home is within a short (for CA standards) driving distance. If you were able to visit the site every day, you would’ve been able to lower the amount a bad contractor costs you. If course, I didn’t need to tell you that! 😉

  20. Looks great!! Been following your blog since The Florida house. When sold, do the new owners get an option of buying (semi) furnished? I’m guessing borrowed furniture and your favorite acessories would not be included. Just curious about everything else.

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