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Sept. 29, 2020, 12:49 p.m. EDT

How to renovate your house during a pandemic

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By Jillian Pretzel

Tarek El Moussa of “Flip or Flop” fame has helped many novice flippers on his show “Flipping 101 with Tarek El Moussa.” And after all those years in the business, you’d think he’s seen it all.

But then the coronavirus pandemic hit.

On the episode titled “Bad Energy BoHo,” El Moussa helps Amber and Carlos with a house in Playa del Rey, a neighborhood in Los Angeles. The renovation is going well, but they’re thrown a curveball as they hear news of COVID-19 cases popping up in Southern California.

El Moussa says they need to finish this project ASAP, before the pandemic gets bigger. Read on to find out how they manage to finish remodeling this house under immense pressure, and learn some tips about how to save time and money when renovating your kitchen, bathroom, and beyond.

Custom cabinets aren’t always necessary

Right away, Amber explains that she wants to give the house a minimalist, Scandinavian style. When touring the kitchen, she asks El Moussa if he thinks custom cabinets could help accomplish this look.

“If you spend that money for custom cabinets, you’ll never get it back,” El Moussa says.

He says that skipping the custom cabinets, and going with stock cabinetry, is an easy way to save money and time — which is important since the clock is ticking.

El Moussa then suggests installing matte white cabinets, but Amber doesn’t take his advice. Instead, she chooses a light wood grain. “It’s going to go better with my Scandinavian boho style,” she explains.

In the end, the stock wood grain cabinets are the right choice. Not only do they save money, but they also bring an earthy element to the kitchen.

Paint the fireplace for an easy makeover

This house has a beautiful brick fireplace, but El Moussa knows they’ll need to update it before putting the house on the market. Amber wants the fireplace to be white, but she isn’t sure if she should whitewash it or use simple white paint.

El Moussa’s advice: Stick to the home’s theme.

“This house is going to be pretty much a brand-new house kind of when it’s all done, right?” he says. “If you whitewash the bricks, it’s going to have that older feel, an older look to it, versus, like, a high, bright white modern gloss paint.”

Since the rest of the place will look new and modern, the fireplace should match.

Accent tile can add visual interest on a budget

Renovating a bathroom can be an expensive and tedious task, so Amber gets creative in order to save time and cash.

In one of the bathrooms, rather than replacing all of the white tile, she keeps it but adds bands of accent tile.  This creative tile repurposing ends up saving $2,500 and, perhaps more importantly, it impresses El Moussa.

“This is exactly how you need to think when you’re flipping houses,” he says.

The bathroom ends up with a fun, boho style, and Amber and Carlos get to pocket their savings. All around, this tile solution is a big success.

An office space is a must during a pandemic

When Amber and Carlos started this project, working from home wasn’t quite so ubiquitous, but with COVID-19 hitting mid-renovation, a home office space has suddenly become a hot commodity. So, it’s lucky that Carlos and Amber stage the living room with a small desk.

A black fence creates a modern look

One of the best features of this house is the pool. Surrounded by a fence and beautiful trees, this pool is a sweet oasis in the backyard. Still, it needs some updates if it’s going to impress buyers — and one of those updates has to be painting the fence.

While Amber likes the original green color of the fencing, she and Carlos end up painting it black for a modern look.

The new coat of paint makes the pool area look modern, and buyers love it.

“It’s perfect,” one buyer says when she sees the pool area.

Is this ‘Flipping 101’ tutorial a success?

Amber and Carlos know from the beginning that they have a high-risk flip on their hands. They’d bought the house for $1,030,000, and put $127,000 into the renovation. After paying $38,000 in interest and $70,000 in closing costs and commission, these flippers have to sell the house for $1,265,000 to break even.

When it comes time to choose a list price, El Moussa explains that these flippers are in luck: The pandemic has surprisingly boosted housing prices. He explains that they can list the house at $1.5 million, which means they have the potential to make a big profit.

Amber and Carlos end up accepting an offer for $1,535,000, which means they made a $270,000 profit. That’s an incredible return for this risky flip — during a pandemic no less.

This story was originally published on Realtor.com

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