Order of Operations – Flipping

The typical Order of operations in New Construction are the same across most facets of building construction. The Order of Operations for other projects (which we’ll touch on later) will vary some, but let’s talk specifically about flipping houses.

When you’re flipping a house, the goal is to get in, get done, and get out with the least amount of time and money needed to get the house rented or sold. I’ve flipped several hundred houses, and in doing so I found that many people stress themselves far to much by getting into a big rush. If they would just stick with the order of operations, they could alleviate an awful lot of stress from the project.

Recon/Review
I always start with a simple review of whatever documents are available, and a walk-through of the house. I often times had an inspectors report that showed everything that was not up to code, which certainly made life a lot easier for me, but I also found things in my walk-through that needed to be address, either for safety, common sense, or my investors wishes.
If needed, i’ll get a landscaping crew to come out first and knock back the growth so I can see all the parts and pieces of the house; nothing like trying to see the exterior window conditions when you’re being attacked by thorny bushes after wading through three feet high grass!

Goals
Once i’ve completed my review, I set specific goals for this project, specific things that need to be addressed in a large scale. Notice I did not say ‘Planning’, I said ‘Goals’.
I will usually get a dumpster delivered, perhaps a porta-john or two, and other job-site necessities.
This is also where I lay some ideas down about where to store materials, and other parts of managing my overall job-site.

Demolition
This phase is all about getting all the old crap out of the house and out of the way. The goal is to get all the garbage out of the house and directly into a dumpster, anything that we need to keep out of the way and into some kind of storage.
Demolition is taken as far as needed to uncover all the problems.

Planning
Now that I can see all the parts and pieces I need to see, I can start planning my work. I’ll lay out my plans, select my materials, and start getting things ordered based on Lead and Need times.

Rough-In
This phase is where we get back to ‘real construction’, and closely match the normal order of ops for new building. Having removed ALL of the crap we want gone, we can now start from the bottom up.
This includes all Framing, Sub-Flooring, HVAC, Plumbing, Electrical, Low-Voltage, and get any inspections needed for work up to this point.

Double-Check
I always make a point of double-checking my rough-in work before I start closing things up; nothing worse than having to tear down freshly hung sheetrock so I can fix a little thing in the wall left behind!

Finish-PREP
An often overlooked step, I build in time to PREPARE for an awesome finish.
We make sure all the framing is level, plumb, and even for the material going on it, which usually means removing all the nails, screws, and junk left behind, as well as evening out some places by planing away some sections, or building up others with wood or cardboard strips.

Finish
With all of my rough-in done, it’s time to get the finish work happening. I’ll turn a sheetrock team loose and keep everyone out of their way until they’re done. Then i’ll get the rest of the people in there to finish all the parts and pieces!

Punch List
There’s always a few little things left to deal with at the end of the job, called a ‘Punch List’. I used to have a team of Handymen who I split between handling Punch Lists, Service Calls, and small jobs.

I’ll go over each of these in more detail, as well as the planning and logistics of jobsite and project management.

As always, stay tuned for more, and remember, why do it okay twice when you can do it great once?


Order of Operations

No matter what we’re working on, there’s always an order of operations. In Math we have PEMDAS, in baking we have GCMMBT, and in CPR we learn ABC.

In construction it’s no different, we have an order of operations, and it’s important we follow it so we can keep making progress, and not have to go back and undo or redo work already done.

I’ve seen people get in a hurry and skip steps, usually in an effort to satisfy a hasty investor or homeowner, and they find themselves with much more expense than estimated, so now someone has to eat that extra cost.

I’ve seen projects where drywall had to be ripped down so the plumber could finish installing some pipe, or worse, so an inspector could check an electrical junction, and now that drywall had to be set, taped, mudded, sanded, mudded, sanded, and primed a second time (or third, YIKES!).

I’ve also seen damages inside houses where finish work was done in some rooms, but rough work was not, and damage was caused by materials coming through the finished areas.

No matter how big a rush you’re in, it’s always faster to take your time and do things right.

Mindset

For all the various things I do, Mindset plays an important role. No matter what the task, project, or catastrophe is, I’ve got to have the right stuff in my head, my focus needs to be on the priorities, and my resolve needs to be n+1 where n= the difficulty of the thing(s) ahead.

No matter what you’re approaching, the size of the project, your skill level, or your drive, I encourage you to take a little time, go for a walk with yourself, and figure out what your mindset is. Ask yourself what you’ll do when things go wrong (they will), when expectations aren’t met (they won’t all be), or when something stupid happens (always does). Figure out ahead of time what your MINDSET will be; will you charge forward like a bull in a china shop, letting your anger drive you forward into failing faster? Will you take a step back, pause, and reconsider your position? Or will you run away, maybe coming back to fight another day?

Nothing worth having is easy, but not everything that’s easy isn’t worth having. 🙂

Porch Steps in the desert

One of the challenges of building in the desert is the climate tends to be more abrasive and damaging to our materials. For the project, I was tasked with building a new set of porch steps at a residence in a desert environment, nestled at the base of the mountains, and not far from a huge lake.

The old steps had begun to succumb to the constant beating from temperature swings, long days in direct sunlight, the blistering heat of summer, hot and dry, as well as the freezing temperatures of the winter, and the occasional torrential downpour. The old steps were wobbly, narrow, generally difficult to navigate, and by the time I received my task, downright dangerous.

For the new steps, I started by setting a sturdy foundation; the ground below was solid, so I simply scraped off the loose top layer, tamped out the sections I wanted, and set paving stones for my steps to rest above the ground level. I also setup drainage under and around the steps to prevent water from washing washing out my foundation.
I then built new steps, with rails, out of 2 x 12″ PT boards, and attached everything using Deckmate screws. The new steps are four feet wide at the treads, with solid rails on both sides that will actually hold a persons weight if needed.
With several improvements over the old steps, the residents were quite happy to have safe, solid steps to get up and down, and even better, they were able to confidently carry groceries from the cars in the driveway to the kitchen just beyond the porch!