5 Useful Things That No One Tells You About Rehabbing

Robert, my GC,  is still on vacation this week which creates a stressful dynamic in the renovation process. There were quite a few responses to questions that started with “I think what he meant is…” For a factual girl, that makes me very nervous. Perhaps a blessing in disguise, it was raining every day this week which limits what we can do. So, my Superintendent, Sebastien, took this opportunity to clean house – no, really…he had the house cleaned. They took out all of the miscellaneous debris, filled up yet another dumpster, and brought a new one in to hold the bricks from the chimney we ended up losing anyway after that whole argument 2 weeks ago (it was collapsing – it was literally blowing in the wind and almost onto our neighbor’s house).  So, major credit goes to Sebastien, the house looks transformed:


Now, with the house cleaned up, I can realistically walk through the new framing and picture the final product when we’re done – where it’s working and where it’s not working. In the meantime, we had an appraiser at the house and he is considering rehabbing (sound familiar?). He asked for a few tips so I told him some basics and then I mentioned some random items that I wish someone had mentioned to me during my first flip. So, for all of you first timers, here you go:


1. It’s more important that your Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing (MEP) guys are available for the duration of their scope than it is that they’re low bid. If your contractors can’t be at your property for a week or two consecutively to do their job, it will cost you more in the end because your schedule will be compromised. It’s also annoying.

2. Electrical and Plumbing come out twice. At the start of a gut rehab, the electrician has to come “clean” the house – meaning, he takes out the active wiring to prevent fire and electrocution. The plumber has to come out to set up a temporary toilet. A month or two later, they come back for their major scope.


3. Your top lead item is plumbing fixtures. This is assuming your have permitting done. You have a lot of lead items; however, plumbing comes first. The plumber needs one piece from your plastic bag with a shower head in it that needs to  be installed right away. Save the rest of the contents for later (in our case, months later).

4. Dumpsters are stressful. Your very first issue to resolve is dumpster placement. If it’s going to be on the street, you had better start blocking the spaces for 10 days prior to dumpster arrival because it takes the City of Chicago 10 days to tow cars (believe it or not) – we sent 2 dumpsters away for 2 days in a row because of cars parked outside. Second, if you are throwing out masonry items such as concrete and brick, you need a lower dumpster so the truck doesn’t break when it tries to load it when you’re done. Finally, the minute a dumpster goes on site, people will be inspired to dump random debris and personal trash into it. If you’re lucky, you will have dedicated polish men running outside and threatening to call the police.

5. Demo is heavy. The laws of physics seem to not apply to demo. Especially when you’re working with plaster – there is a lot of weight in those walls. The plaster is on wire webbing that is attached to wooden slats. Once you start ripping that out and tossing it on the floor, you are redistributing the weight where it wasn’t intended to be carried. That stuff needs to be taken out to the dumpster immediately. Due to issues with Item 4 above on Kenwood, we ended up having to put temporary beams with jacks on the first floor for extra support on the second floor because we needed to keep working and had no dumpster.

You’re welcome.


Here’s our powder room, isn’t it pretty?


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