Cliff Wettlaufer & Associates

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 Specific Order of Repairs + Gantt Chart




  1. Clean-Out Crew: Many distressed properties will have been occupied by very messy people! Be sure to budget for dumpsters as well as labour to clean-out the property. In some cases the full scope of the project will not be known until after the clean-out is complete.
    1. Demolition Crew: At this point you will have a full scope of the project planned. The demo crew should remove EVERYTHING that you plan to remodel. Cabinets, vanities, tile, carpet, old plumbing, old HVAC, any drywall where new electrical or plumbing needs to be run. Many investors make the mistake of trying to save and work around certain items in the house. It is often less expensive to start fresh with than try to save costs by reusing items. Doors are a prime example. Strive to have a "clean slate" and work environment after the demo is complete.
    2. Roofing Contractor.Always fix the roof first! There is nothing worse than having fresh new drywall ruined during a rainstorm by a leaky roof that you planned to fix later.
      1. Foundation and Structural, including Framing. I avoid houses with structural issues, but if it makes sense, make repairs to foundation, beams, supports, joists, concrete etc. first. When the structure is solid you may begin framing new walls and the rest of the project.
        1. Windows Installation.The timing of the windows installation is often tricky because they likely need to be ordered and delivery times are a few days to a few weeks. The interior framing, rough plumbing and mechanical work can be in process, but windows should be installed before the interior drywall work is completed. You should also plan window installation to not interfere with exterior paint schedule.
        2. Gutters! Soffits! Exterior Paint. Fix brick, framing, or siding repairs or your paint job will not last. Exterior paint is usually a 4 day process. Day 1, scrape or power wash, day 2 prime, day 3 paint or spray exterior, day 4 paint trim. C-Black gutters and soffits offer a rich look.
        3. Rough HVAC.If necessary, add new furnace and ducting.
        4. Rough Plumbing.Add rough-ins at this time. Check your local building codes. Install tubs.
  2. Rough Electrical.Make sure you install panels, GFCI outlets and wiring correctly, to code, with a permit or you may regret it later.
  3. Drywall! Texture. Another 2-3 day process for drying times, budget accordingly and keep everyone out of the way of the drywall crews.
  4. Cabinets! Trim Carpentry. Install doors and trim. If there are thresholds or trim that must wait until after tile or vinyl flooring, be sure to schedule a follow-up visit from carpenter for final touches.
  5. Interior Paint.After completion, schedule a touch-up session with the painting contractor to coincide with day before carpet install. Mark and save extra paint!
    1. Counter-tops in kitchen and baths.If you are using laminate you can have it installed by the carpenters. If you are using tile granite, use the tile team, and if you are using slab granite order immediately after cabinet installation and have it installed by the fabricator.
    2. Tile! Flooring (not carpet).Install all bathroom, kitchen and tile flooring. Make sure to keep tub drains covered to keep mud out. Finish or install wood look laminate or hardwood flooring.
  6. Finish Plumbing and Electrical.Install all trim kits, fixtures, faucets, outlets, lighting, switches, ceiling fans, vent covers. If you did not replace tubs, have them re-glazed at this time.
    1. Install appliances, final touch-ups. Painting / trim, order landscaping, measure and order blinds if applicable.
  7. Full Construction Clean. Vacuum ducts if not replaced, clean-out ALL debris, scrub bathrooms, kitchen, clean garage. Wash the windows (yes, wash the windows!) Make it SPOTLESS!
  8. Install carpet. Again, this is the very LAST thing you do inside the house (except staging). Change the locks. Often keys are hidden on the property to help contractors gain access.
  9. Final Exterior. Landscape mulch, rocks, address numbers, mailbox, welcome mat and flowers on front porch. (this can be done earlier in the process if you would like to get the "curb appeal" set for the house while it is being remodeled.
  10. C-CRITICALLY IMPORTANT- USE A GANTT CHART Planning and arranging your trades is critical. You DO NOT want trades working over each other, or in improper sequence. It can create chaos in your project. What if electrical and plumbing are not done by Friday and Drywall is scheduled for Monday. If Drywall can’t do Mon. they can’t come back for two weeks. YOU HAVE A PROBLEM! Using a Gantt Chart will help you visualize your timelines, stay on top of trades and manage schedule and budget changes. For download of Gantt spreadsheet See:  
  11. Yes it’s a learning curve, but once you know it, it can serve you, project after project.                        


Final Interior. Staging or Light staging.


Original concept by Denise Andison C.K.D./C.B.D. Co-founder Victoria Real Estate Investment Club. Started flipping homes in 2004 and has remodeled multiple properties for flipping or holding since then. CliffNotes added by Cliff Wettlaufer, Victoria Real Estate Agent and passionate Renovator. Thank you for sharing Denise!

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  • What can you save? Appliances? Cabinets? Countertops? Hardware? Sink? Faucet?
  • Appliances: Unless the appliances are in extremely good shape, replace them. Even though people are not fans of cleaning stainless, it is still perceived as the best finish. You can get package deals from most appliance sellers - Home Depot, RONA, Trail, Coast Add a dishwasher if possible, even in suites. Not having one is a deal breaker for most people. Put the plug for the DW under the sink cabinet. Drill a hole for the cord in the side of the sink cabinet; much easier to plug in or out... I don't like the microwave/fan over the stove; only use it if you have a very small space. It's difficult to lift hot dishes in and
    especially if something is cooking on the stove. Garburators are out of favour again; don't spend the money.
    • Backsplashes: If you have an existing one, think twice before removing the countertop - you'll need to remove the backsplash too and you'll be looking at drywall repair. For an economical backsplash look, install textured wallpaper before you paint; it adds interest without a lot of cost and is quite durable as it would be painted with kitchen finish paint. If you do tile, a simple pattern and neutral colour is important. Don't give people a reason to dislike it.
    • Cabinets: Can they be salvaged? If you are not going to do a proper job, don't bother. Cabinets can be stripped and refinished, but this is a big job, not an amateur effort. They can also be sanded and painted, again, not an easy job. Spraying is the best way to paint and it involves taping off areas. If not done well, it can look streaky and uneven. Sometimes the best
      thing to do is replace. I like to use IKEA cabinets; they are cost-effective and utilize a number of clever European features.
      The downside is that you have to assemble them yourself. But there are now two companies that will assemble and install. It also involves a trip to Vancouver, or shipping to the island. Cost effective cabinet lines mean less choice. However, it's possible to utilize even limited range cabinets in effective ways.
    • Countertops: Almost always replace them. They are usually quite outdated and new countertops can transform a kitchen.

Allow for plumbing as the sink will need to be disconnected and reconnected. Replace the sink when you do the countertop unless the sink is in very good shape. The square front underwrap is the cleanest approach and looks a little different than the rounded underwrap. If your cabinets are framed; that is, you see a frame around the doors, you'll need to order a
countertop that sits on the cabinets and the front edge wraps onto the face of the frame. If the cabinet is frameless (newer), then you'll need to order a countertop with a fill. It sits above the countertops. This is important info for your countertop people - I use Colonial Countertops. They have a "boneyard" that you can look through. These are mistakes and can often save you lots of money because they are discounted. Granite slab is necessary in higher end flips. Keep in mind
that it must be ordered once the kitchen cabinets are in so they can be measured properly. It can take weeks to turn around so plan accordingly. Undermount sinks complicate the installation.

  • Often just replacing the hardware on the cabinets can make a big difference. Old style handles are often spaced differently than new handles. Measure the space between the holes to make sure the new hardware will fit. Satin chrome is the most popular choice. Again, nothing too outlandish or personal, just easy to operate. We had one kitchen that had the old style
    white melamine and oak pull doors. I sprayed the handles with an espresso flat paint, and then added darker countertops. It looked much better.
    • Sink / Faucet: I've been moving towards using large single sinks, or sinks with an extra-large basin on one side and a small one on the other. The equally sized sinks are dated; very few people use them to wash dishes anymore.
      • Lighting: Good lighting is important. Always update the lighting fixtures. You can use the builder special types in hallways and bedrooms. Save the wow factor for the dining room light (which should not be bizarre, but should be unique) and the kitchen ceiling fixture or pendant lights. Pot lights can add up; I prefer great track lighting and interesting pendants. 

Kitchen Layout Tips/ Mistakes


  • Consider how people work in a kitchen to create a functional layout - food from pantry and fridge to sink to cooktop ...
  • Make sure the fridge opens the correct way and have a landing space on that side of the fridge. Fridge doors can be switched to open either way. Bottom mount freezers are more desirable.
    • I usually try to put the dishwasher next to the fridge, then the sink.
    • Ensure you have 36" of space to work in between the sink and the cooktop. Often people have lots of countertop in areas that people don't want to work in.
    • Add a small cabinet beside the stove; it shouldn't be beside a return wall or out in the open. It's dangerous for children to be able to knock handles and therefore pots off the stove.
    • Recess a deep fridge if you can. Nothing looks worse than a fridge that sticks out from the cabinets. Sometimes you'll have a closet behind you can frame the depth into. Use a deep cabinet over the fridge.
    • Put the flooring into the kitchen before the cabinets if possible. You may not be able to fit the dishwasher in or get it out if flooring is installed after. Also, the countertop height from the floor is reduced by the floor thickness. (It should be 36" to
      the top of the countertop.)
      • If you take cabinets to the ceiling, put filler above to allow the upper cabinet doors to open without hitting the ceiling or light trims.
      • Add under-cabinet lighting if possible. This adds wow factor, even during the day and it only takes one circuit.
      • C-Add an eating bar. People love the idea of visiting with friends during meal prep. Distance from Island to other counter S/B minimum 36”. We had the room so went 44” That extra 6” really added to the feel of the kitchen flow.
      • Open floor plans are popular, but Consider the style of house before you open up the kitchen to the dining room. Period homes demand a more formal approach, with a separate dining room.





  • What can you save? Tub? Shower? Cabinets? Sink? Faucets? Hardware?
  • Often the tub or shower is salvageable with a good cleaning. Taking out a tub and replacing it is quite expensive. Protecting the tub and replacing the tile surround is much less expensive. Tubs can also be re-glazed.
    • If the toilet is salvageable, clean it and keep it. Always replace the toilet seat with a brand new one.
    • Existing cabinets/vanities: Can they be painted? I have spray painted older cabinets with an espresso finish. It hides the flaws.
    • C-If you replace vanity, will the sink trap down pipe meet up with the wall exit pipe properly? On one project, I ordered a vanity through Costco that had plumbing hook-up behind the center hallowed drawers. Walls were in and painted. I had to rip out finished wall, to re-position the exit pipe to fit.



  • Vessel bowls look cool but are extremely impractical. Don't use them except in a powder room.
    • Jacuzzi tubs are not worth adding ... more people dislike than like them.
      • Add a wood or painted frame around wall mounted mirrors to give them a custom look. It can be added over an existing mirror by routing out the back of the mirror.
    • Consider switching a tub combo to a large shower in the ensuite.


NEXT: Part 5/ Scheduling


Original concept by Denise Andison C.K.D./C.B.D. Co-founder Victoria Real Estate Investment Club. Started flipping homes in 2004 and has remodeled multiple properties for flipping or holding since then. CliffNotes by Cliff…Victoria Realtor and passionate Renovator. Thank you for sharing Denise!


















































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  • Leave the old flooring down while you are doing the demo and painting the interior, especially if you will be refinishing floors or doing a lot of drywall repair.
  • Once you have your plan, order all the materials. If something is back-ordered, pick something else. It will throw out the whole schedule if critical items do not arrive on time.
  • Overall Interior Colour Scheme: Pick a theme that you like and stick with it. Then you can use it again on the next property. It comes in handy if you need to pop back and do some paint touch ups, replace tiles, carpet patches etc. (Especially Rentals). Select the elements that are harder to find first; specialty items (e.g. Tile for fireplace surrounds, unique backsplash tiles, matching existing stained glass or other elements that you cannot change). Then pick the next item, usually flooring or floor tile, then carpet, then hardware and plumbing fixtures, then paint colours, then staging items.
  • Paint: Use an eggshell finish on the walls; okay to use the same colour in all of the bedrooms, hallways, closets, laundry room, den, office etc. Use a flat ceiling paint - it hides some of the imperfections. Once I pick the wall colour, I often use the lightest colour on the paint wand for the ceiling colour - think of it as the fifth wall- it doesn't have to be bright white. Colours look darker on the wall because they are covering a large area; consider picking a colour then going one shade lighter ...
  • Trim is typically a softer white shade, but definitely white. Use a semi -gloss. I like to use white trims (usually matches window frames anyway) with darker wall colours of similar intensity. Walls appear to be "framed" by white trim. C- Tip…we went with gray tones from Benjamin Moore, so chose their “Cloudy White” for trim. Whatever colour family you choose, you can have your paint store add a few drops of base to take the edge off a bright white
    • Electrical Plugs and Switches: Unless a period home, use Decora updated plugs and switches. It's not that expensive and really updates the look. Use white, not a specialty colour. Do the cable outlet and telephone outlets too.
    • Interior Doors: You can use the same paint on the interior doors that you use on the trim. Update the hardware, ideally levered handles rather than knobs (unless period architecture). I am not a fan of the builder special 6 panel door with wood grain. I would rather use a more cost-effective slab door, even with wood grain painted to match the trim, or in certain cases stained, and great hardware. C-How many coats of paint are on those old doors? Not closing properly? Time to strip?
    • Closets: Use opening doors and bi-pass sliders if possible. In a more generic property, use obscure glass for a bit of wow factor for closet doors, mirrored doors are out-of-date in my opinion unless they are panelled rather than frameless. I like to use the wired white or platinum coloured shelves that allow the hangers to slide along the rod. Do double hanging; the cost of the extra shelf is minimal and it sets your place apart and doubles the hanging capacity for very little extra money. If budget requires bi-fold doors, use good hardware to ensure that they are easy to open and close and don't fall off the rail. Fit them square and level, use good knobs (easy to grab) paint them to match the trim colour in the same semi-gloss finish.
      Make sure you take the height of the carpet into account when fitting; you're often fitting the doors before the new carpet goes in.


Flooring: C-Hard surface flooring is popular and practical. For uneven floors that won’t take a rigid plank, self leveling compound may work in certain situations, but a lot of work. Armstrong Vynil planks are one option, an amazing wood like finish and are super durable.





On this project, the old floor the 60’s lino likely contained asbestos. Removal was unthinkable in terms of time and cost. Plus there was a hump in the middle of the room and 7/8” drop from kitchen to adjoining living room.  We decided to sheet the LR with 5/8” plywood, fan out the difference from the seam, apply a thin coat to the lino in kitchen and laundry room and then used Armstrong Vynil planks to cover kitchen, laundry and LR with one continuous floor. Vynil planks need to be sealed after install. Total cost, about $8 Sq Ft.

  • Carpet should be neutral in colour. I always pick the carpet colour or tile/vinyl flooring/laminate colours to complement each other. The right tile or laminate/wood flooring is more challenging to find. (technology has brought fab new products at lower prices) Once you have selected one of these materials, get the others to match. When you have secured the correct square footage
    amount, pick the carpet colour, then the paint colours. If you can, refinish existing wood floors. - often a bonus find - when viewing the house carefully lift a corner of the carpet or remove the heating vent cover to see if you have wood floors. Oak and fir floors are very popular in Victoria. Wood look laminate can be very good now; flat finish or low satin sheen is best. If it looks cheap don’t buy it. C-If there are pets, I like dense low pile single strand carpets. Cats will damage and pull closed loop carpet with their claws.
  • Stand back from your samples -look at the carpet/laminate/tile from a distance to see the real colours. Too many people choose materials up close and don't see the overall colour tone until the product is laid.


NEXT: Part 4/ Kitchens and Baths


Original concept by Denise Andison C.K.D./C.B.D. Co-founder Victoria Real Estate Investment Club. Started flipping homes in 2004 and has remodeled multiple properties for flipping or holding since then. CliffNotes added by Cliff Wettlaufer, Victoria Real Estate Agent and passionate Renovator. Thank you for sharing Denise!

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Curb Appeal and Yard


  • Buyers first impressions are critical. They may not want see inside of house if curb appeal is a turn-off. Mow that lawn, weed, a few new carefully chosen bushes. Garden beds can pop with some new natural or brown mulch. (about $45) Paint that front door. Don’t underestimate the power of Curb Appeal.
  • Study the house from the street. What should stay and what should go. If stucco needs repair, consider painting afterward. New warm colors can make the home look so inviting. Steps and railings should be top notch.
  • Paint is the cheapest option with most return on dollars spent. C-Think twice before painting old 50’s “Rockdash” stucco. Pull the colors out of it for trim. Difficult to repair, but here’s a trick. With tarp in place, straw broom the wall. What falls off can be used to surface wet spots repaired with mortar. 80’s stucco typically had color pigment mixed in before application. Relatively easy to repair and re-paint.
    Damaged areas can also be repaired with contrasting materials. E.g. slate, river rock,
  • Colors: Your choice of Paint Store can provide color guides that are most current and popular. Avoid making a statement with strong colors on exterior walls. This can put off buyers.
  • 2 to 3 (max) graduated colors for trim.
  • Front door should be the focal point. This is where a strong unique color can work. E.g. The classic deep red that stands out. Most doors can be refurbished. Replace only if necessary. Do replace taddy old hardware. Garage door should not be a focal point. Clean up your paths, pressure washing older concrete or front steps can bring back to life.
  • Trim color should be consistent. Off White typically works well, C-Black or Cavern Blue can work as more contemporary.
  • C-Gutters: no matter how old and gungy will usually clean up well with soft brush and soap. If you have to replace, Black has become equally popular to white. Black gutters with black soffits can really give a distinguished or rich look.
  • Other elements such as pots and hanging baskets with seasonal blooming plants are easy to do and can make your entrance pop. In season you can find planters at Costco for about $30. Add a blooming shrub and “Bob’s your Uncle” Quite economical.
  • C-Verticle beams: Is the overhang supported by 4x4 posts? Replace with beefy 6x6’s to give that “Oomph” to façade.



  • Back yard is not as critical. But clean up/remove all debris, clutter, old wood.
  • Repair or spruce up existing deck or back door landing. C-On one project, there was a front and side door, but no direct access to rear yard. We replaced a window with a back door. We imagined a landing with low maintenance brick patio. 

Next: Part 3 General Tips


Original concept by Denise Andison C.K.D./C.B.D. Co-founder Victoria Real Estate Investment Club. Started flipping homes in 2004 and has remodeled multiple properties for flipping or holding since then.  C-CliffNotes added by Cliff Wettlaufer, Victoria Real Estate Agent and passionate Renovator. Thank you for sharing Denise!

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Part 1 of 5 Common Mistakes

Three most Common Mistakes and What to look for

Here are the three most common mistakes made by real estate investors:

  • Under-estimating renovation costs
  • Over-improving properties
  • Under-improving properties

What do I look for in a flip or buy and hold? 

  • Floor plans. Is there a good flow to this home? Open plans are more popular today. Walls that make little sense, even most bearing walls, can be removed. On the flip side, can an extra bedroom be created? Is there an issue that you can solve to create more value? A house with functional issues will be difficult to sell, even with great finishings.
  • Look for houses with mortgage helper or suite potential.
  • Know your Municipality Zoning Bylaws. E.g. City of Victoria and Saanich approvals for Secondary Suite zones.
  • Illegal suites…many people do them, they’re everywhere, but legal is better.
  • C-Not always possible but look for undeveloped basements with minimum 7’ 4” height.
  • Structural integrity (foundation)
  • C-Often overlooked “functioning perimeter drain system” Check with city code Dept for anomalies. Sewage, perimeter drain and storm drains to street, working well? One close call; before removing subjects, by sending a camera through perimeter drains we discovered entire system needed replacing…a potential $25K job.


  • Additions? Consider costs! Try to work with existing structure. If you can’t make addition seamless, don’t do it.
    • Avoid homes that have significantly different architecture than other neighborhood homes.
    • Quite old houses are the most difficult to remodel and have the most cost over-runs.
    • C-Does it have enough electrical capacity for adding appliances or a suite. Check with Utilities on cost to upgrade to 200 amp panel. Anything less is suspect these days.
    • Good location. Even after remodeling it shouldn't be the best house on the street.
    • Somebody else hasn't done something that I'll have to rip out (paying for somebody else's mistakes).
  • Know how far to go.... Beginners often spend too much on things that don't make a difference. Know your market. For example, you may not need to use quartz counters in a neighborhood where laminate sells just fine.
    • Understand if this is a flip or a rental. Rentals require far less updating.
  • Light staging is better than no staging. Use rugs to define spaces rather than large pieces of furniture. A few pictures and well placed mirrors on walls, and accessories in the kitchen and baths make the biggest difference.
  • C-Look for up and coming areas. Vic West and Esquimalt are excellent examples of undervalued Communities with great proximity to ocean, parks, Minutes to Downtown.
  • Do not underestimate the need for contingency fund. 30%-50% suggested.
  • Don’t fall in love before you know the deal.


NEXT: Part 2/ Curb Appeal


By Denise Andison C.K.D./C.B.D. Co-founder Victoria Real Estate Investment Club. Started flipping homes in 2004 and has remodeled multiple properties for flipping or holding since then. CliffNotes added by Cliff Wettlaufer, Victoria Real Estate Agent and passionate Renovator. Thank you for sharing Denise!

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My last sale was a difficult one. Finally an offer after 32 showings…we accepted a clean  offer as is, with a quick close. $10K down and Adjustments, completion and possession at 4:00 PM., all falling on a Monday. There were three home sales involved... my sale being #3. As Monday wore on, there were no funds by 3, 4 or 5:00 PM. Sale #1 had not funded, so #2 and #3 could not complete. I was nervous. For icing on the cake, the buyers’ truck full of possessions was sitting in the driveway waiting to unload. The buyers Realtor “Rob” calling me to assure me funds were on the way and could they just move their stuff in.

Rob had picked up keys earlier in the day from my office. I wisely had him sign a document  warranting that he received and would not hand over keys, until funds and title transfer were confirmed. I refused furniture move-in. Rob was miffed that the requested favor was declined.

My position…what if thieves broke in and stole the buyers stuff at 3:00 AM or there was a fire? Who is liable for buyers stuff? My seller is at risk and I was not about to jump through hoops of getting release forms signed at 6:00 PM. The sale did close the next day.


Thank God this didn’t happen on a Friday afternoon.

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