If I were to share photos of my earlier flips, you would likely shake your head and look away. I was all in on the tan paint colors, chocolate accent walls, and brushed nickel boob lights. In my defense, that was the trend. Fortunately, not only do design choices evolve but the type of finishes you choose to change as well (such as tile).
The number one rule is your selections need to add value to the house. When flipping houses I categorize houses into 3 levels when putting together budgets:
These neighborhoods are the areas where the least expensive properties are for sale. The trade-off for the lower purchase price is that you may have areas with more rental or multi-family properties as well as more concerns about safety. Not everyone is comfortable working in these neighborhoods, and that’s understandable. I found that there were some pockets within these neighborhoods in my market that I was okay working in and I did so for nearly 5 years. These were smaller houses so the budgets for the renovations were much smaller. We weren’t adding square footage or finishing every basement either so the timeline to get them finished was shorter.
The next level of house will offer an improved location where single-family homes and homeowners make up the neighborhoods. The home will also and be larger in size. In this home, there would be significant value and appeal to buyers if the finished home included a lower level living space. There is also an uptick in desirability and sale price if you offer a 4th bedroom.
This level house is one where you will be at the higher end of the market. The buyers for this home will be looking for the characteristics of quality within the renovation but also within the materials chosen. In these houses, there are always 3 bathrooms. With one of those being the master bathroom, this will be a space that I will be very specific with the design selections.
So now that we have that sorted out, let’s get into the numbers for tile budgets in each of these houses.
Tile in a level 1 house:
You need to be aware of the budget. There are several budget-friendly options even aside from tile. Starting with vinyl products. The new DVF floors are a durable alternative to tile. They don’t have grout lines either, which makes maintenance easy. In some of my first flips, I found high-quality roll vinyl flooring to be another great choice. Minimal labor is needed for installation as well. If tile is the way you want to go, keep your tile selections to under $3.00 per square foot. Don’t forget to include the setting materials, the grout, and the labor so you can track the true cost per foot for future projects.
For the tub and shower surrounds in these homes, consider installing molded plastic surrounds instead of tile. They are durable and cost-effective.
Tile in Level 2 houses
You are going to start to have more specialized design selections. This is the price point where many house flips can be found and many flippers use similar. When I am looking for tile in these projects I am looking at inspiration pics of more expensive spaces and creating the look with different materials. Ceramic tile instead of concrete or just an accent wall of tile instead of all the shower walls.
Tile in Level 3 houses
Your budget should be higher because the end house is going to be at a price point where the buyers will be looking for more specialized and designed spaces and higher quality materials (Carrara marble, quartz). For the tile selections in these houses, I will choose main floor materials around 5-8.00 per square foot. These spaces are usually 40-60 square feet in size so a floor tile that makes a statement is always a good choice. In the tub surround, use an accent tile for one wall and subway tile for the others. In the lower level bathroom there again, budget for $5.00-8.00 per square foot tile (or less). Since these are new bathrooms and typically have more square footage, I am usually on the lower end or looking for a classic tile like a hexagon. Shower walls in homes at this price point will get a version of a larger format subway tile and a darker grout for contrast without the added expense.
Master bathrooms are where you can easily get carried away with spending, which is why it’s important to look at the amount of tile needed before you decide. There are beautiful, large format tiles that look like marble for half the investment. Pair those with a mosaic tile shower base and a classic white tile and you have a modern, classic space.
It is possible to create attractive and appealing spaces with any level of home. Successful flipping relies on a combination of good design choices while managing costs for materials. With this guide, you are well equipped to go out and start designing.
Want to buy a property and renovate it?
I have a freebie checklist that will help you — 8 Things I look for When Purchasing a Home. Just click here to download it.
Love before and afters?
Looking to buy a house to renovate? Check out the fixer upper checklist to help you find the house with the most “flip” potential.
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