Photo courtesy of DIY Network
Tamara Day’s Strategic Renovation Advice
As seasoned investors well know, each renovation presents new challenges that, if miscalculated, can bust budgets and tank an opportunity. With more than 30 home rehabs under her belt, Bargain Mansions host Tamara Day has plenty of tools to keep a project on track and under budget. Think Realty sat down with Day do discuss her strategic advice for flippers hoping to avoid headaches while increasing returns.
Study up, build a strict budget All too often, Day has seen flippers get caught up in the excitement of renovating a home. Thrilled by the adventure of revamping a space, investors can skip important planning or poorly research a budget, setting the project up for delays, added costs, or worse. “I think that in home renovations it's easy to get caught up and overspend,” Day said. “I've bought houses from people where they've started the renovation and they just get in over their heads and then they walk away. Do your research and get as much education as you possibly can.” Have inspectors and contractors make solid bids While it might add some cost and time, inspections are imperative to uncover hidden problems that could be a nightmare down the road, Day said. In the same vein, Day recommends that investors walk through a property with a licensed contractor to detail what work needs to be done and how much it will cost. Adjust your budget accordingly and then limit additional flourishes to the project. “Having your licensed contractor walk through the project and give you solid, firm bids is incredibly important to staying on budget,” Day said. “Make sure that you're checking yourself when you're putting in those little splurges and make sure that they really fit the budget.” Track homes sales data Tracking properties that have already been sold is an important step in setting a competitive price. To determine your house value, find homes that are similar in size, condition, and location. Compare similar listings’ prices for an extended period to gain a better understanding of your market and to maximize your returns, Day said. “Knowing your comparables before you buy is huge,” she said. “Track more than six months in previous home sales. Track it for a year or track it for two years to find what the true comparable is, because one house can change the comparable for a neighborhood really quickly.”
Gary Rohman Photography
W hen you see “Bar- gain Mansions” host Tamara Day on television swinging sledgeham- mers, grinding metal, and installing sheetrock, it’s not just her construc- tion and design skills on display. It’s also a reflection of a do-it- yourself mindset that was instilled in Day as a child growing up on a small town family farm. Hiring out- side professionals for home projects wasn’t an option, which meant Day, her parents, and her siblings would roll up their sleeves together. “I grew up with the mentality of ‘You fix it and you figure it out,’” Day
said, recalling her youth in Salina, Kansas. “As I've grown up, I've never been afraid of projects and I’ve al- ways been willing to just get it done because that was what you did.” As a young child, Day remembers an ongoing series of big home proj- ects. She and her siblings were al- ways helping hands in the family’s renovation and construction work. Even punishments incorporated some DIY training. “I remember I got sent to time- out for something, and while I was sitting on the staircase, I had to put wood putty in all the nail holes,” Day laughed. “I think that
farm mentality has been a huge benefit to me in my career because I've seen things break, I've broken things, and then I've just figured out how to fix them.” The confidence to break, fix, and build things is now a core part of the mission with her HGTV show, “Bargain Mansions.” Now finished with filming its second season, the show follows Day as she uncovers neglected, large houses in the Kan- sas City metro area and transforms them into glamorous homes. Now a proud mother of four, Day’s journey to national television and DIY fame, however, wasn’t a straight line.
AWINDING PATH TO DAY’S DREAMS While she may have cultivated a gritty, do-it-yourself mindset on the farm, Day didn’t consider a career in construction and design until after college, she said. Without a clear career path for herself, Day earned a communications degree from Kansas State University and took up creatively unfulfilling sales jobs. “I didn't realize those were op- portunities for me growing up on a farm,” she said. “I didn't know a designer. I didn't know somebody who does construction. I didn't know those were an option.”
It wasn’t until Day and her hus- band Bill purchased a fixer upper home for the family just before the 2008 financial crisis. As with many homeowners, the Days were hit hard by the economic downturn and the timing couldn’t have been worse. “We had purchased our house
before everything crashed — it was a foreclosure and in really rough shape,” Day said. “We were mid-construction when the world came crashing down.” But rather than wallow in defeat, Day tapped into her self-determination to transform her family’s situation.
16 | think realty magazine :: july / august 2019
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