Painting, Demolition And Refurbishment: Risk Management Tips For The DIY Home Flipper

You want to get into the real estate game, but how? Flipping houses has taken off in the last few years and is a popular way to capitalize …

You want to get into the real estate game, but how? Flipping houses has taken off in the last few years and is a popular way to capitalize on the rebounding real estate market. But, it’s not without its risks. When you demo a home and remodel it, you’ll likely run into old insulation, dangerous paint additives, and other risks that you might not be aware of. This is especially true if you’re rehabbing an old home. Here’s how to manage those risks and protect yourself.

The Risks Of Lead Paint

Lead paint hasn’t been used in homes since 1978. Because of this, many house flippers don’t worry too much about the risks. But, the risk is still there. How? Because many people simply painted over their lead painted walls instead of removing the lead paint. It was easier to do and, at the time, considered a safer alternative.

By tearing down walls, you open yourself up to the possibility of airborne lead dust. This can be very dangerous for you, and pets you have on-site, or any children (while rare, it’s still a risk if you happen to bring your kids with you one day).

In addition to the health hazards of lead paint, getting rid of it can be very costly. According to, the average cost to remove lead paint is $10,000. If you suspect you have lead paint in the home you’re rehabbing, you should hire a professional with experience in working with, and removing, lead paint.

The Risk Of Asbestos

Asbestos is a type of insulating material that was common in the 1800s, up to about the late 1970s. People exposed to asbestos inhale the asbestos fibres into their lungs. These fibres remain there basically forever. Over time, the fibres can accumulate and cause scarring and inflammation. Eventually, this inflammation can lead to malignant lung cancer, a special type of cancer called mesothelioma, or asbestosis – a chronic inflammatory fibrotic condition.

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Since it takes decades for any of these conditions to manifest, you won’t know about it until it’s too late. It’s better to avoid exposing yourself to the fibers and instead hire a professional to do the work for you.

Professional asbestos removal is a complex and exacting process. It’s also expensive, due to the labor-intensive nature of the job.

The Risk Of Paint Fumes

Painting in enclosed spaces raises the risk for paint fumes inhalation. While it might not seem like a serious risk, continued and chronic inhalation of paint fumes has been shows to trigger asthma and can eventually cause cancer through chronic inflammatory responses in your body.

Dangers Of Doing Professional Work

Professional plumbing and electrical work can be very dangerous – especially electrical. Unless you are a professional electrician or plumber, do yourself (and the people who buy your home) a favor. Hire a professional electrician or plumber. The liability on the sale just isn’t worth it. More than that, it’s not worth the risk of dying from electrocution or shorting out the entire house.

Another area you may not want to take on all by yourself is the roof. It’s deceptively difficult because of the height, the pitch of most modern roofs, and the fact that roofing jobs often require that you work without any kind of scaffolding or safety net. Even when you’re working on a flat roof, the risk of falling is significant.

How To Protect Yourself

Fortunately, most of the risks associated with rehabbing a home can be either mitigated or eliminated completely. Aside from hiring professionals, the first and easiest way to minimize risks on the site is to buy the best protective gear you can afford. My favorite place to purchase gear from is, however, there are many others great options online as well.

Always paint with the windows open and large fans blowing to prevent paint fumes from building up. And, as always, never take on a job that’s too big for you to handle.

What does this mean, exactly? Well, before you rehab a home and try to flip it, assess the total cost of the job. Spend some time getting to know the home you’re about to remodel. Investigate its history. Speak with professional contractors and do some price shopping for professional services you’ll need.

Get an estimate for all of the work that would have to be done on the home and price out all of the supplies.

Once you’ve got a clear picture of the labor and materials cost, make a decision as to whether it’s worth it. Sometimes, eliminating the risk inherent in flipping a home means passing on the deal.


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