Kristi Copeland left a cush 20-year career to make a big life pivot and become a general contractor at 45, blowing so many stigmas out of the water.
I hear so many women tell me they can't possibly chase their dreams because their "too old" to make such a big move. Take this one little life you have and just go after what you want, for cryin' out loud.
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...and so much more.
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3. Learn more about Debbie DeBerry | The Flipstress
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You're listening to the flip houses like a girl podcast where we educate, empower and celebrate everyday women who are facing their fears, juggling family and business, embracing their awesomeness and wholeheartedly chasing their dream of flipping houses. Each episode delivers honest to goodness tools, tips and strategies you can implement today to get closer to your first or next successful house flip. Here's your spiky haired breakfast taco loving host house flipping Coach Debbie DeBerry.
Debbie DeBerry 00:38
Okay, you guys, you know the drill by now, whatever you're up to today. I hope you're having an easy wine. Thank you so much for carving out a little time to hang out with me. So first off, I want to do a listener shout out, because I freaking love hearing from you guys. Thank you so much. It totally makes my day and it lets me know that I'm not just sitting here talking to myself most days. Well, maybe I maybe I am sitting here talking to myself most days, but not necessarily on the podcast. So there's that. Alright, you guys, thank you again so much. So this listener shout out goes out to leelee chi, I'm, I'm sure I'm not pronouncing it the way you intended. But that's the name that's the username. Anyways, it says, “she's a breath of fresh air. I love Debbie's podcasts so much. She's so encouraging and positive and genuinely wants you to succeed. It's so refreshing to have an experienced and competent woman talking about flipping and investing in real estate. Each episode is packed with useful information and virtual high fives.” I love that. “I can't wait to get started on this adventure, especially after hearing the Adele tan episode since I'm also in So Cal. Thank you, Debbie” Thank you so much for this awesome review. I love it. I love the virtual high fives. I'm all over that. So thank you very much for taking time out of your day and giving us some feedback. I appreciate it. All right. I'm excited to share with you this conversation I had with a local woman who at the age of 45 decided she was going to leave her Cush corporate job of 20 years and become a GC. Isn't that awesome? I freaking love it. So this episode has a lot of nuggets in it. But mostly, it has this one big lesson of you can pivot. Any time you decide you want to pivot. Stop letting other people tell you what you can and cannot do or when you can and cannot do it. And especially yourself. I talked to even 30 somethings who say they feel like they're too old to pivot. And it just blows my mind. You guys, we've got one life here. We're not promised days we're not promised tomorrow. As hokey as it sounds, seriously change your limiting beliefs and do what you freakin want to do. Alright, so without further ado, let's get into this conversation with Kristi Copeland of the fixit chick here in Austin. Thank you so much for spending some time with me today. Because I know that your story is going to inspire people and educate them and encourage them and empower them. And that's what we're all about. Okay, so why don't why don't you just give us a little bit of your background like a little bit about who you are? I know. I don't always love that question. Because it's like, I have so many stories that I could share.
the poster behind you, oh, by the way, I have that in my office.
Debbie DeBerry 04:16
I love it so much. Me too!
My office is not very quiet, though. And my dog walker is coming in a little bit. So that's why I'm holed up in my bedroom in the back of the house, so that's awesome. Anywho um, yeah, I know. It's like I was born a poor white child in a small town in the middle of a cornfield in the Midwest. Where you Really? Yeah, well, I mean, literally in a cornfield. He was born in a hospital, but a very small town in the Midwest and wow, surrounded by corn and I'm from Illinois. So yeah, I grew up moving. I wanted to get the heck out of Dodge, but we you know, we weren't we were totally middle class and So, you know, we didn't have a ton of money for my parents never hired anybody, right? Like if there was any work to be done, my dad did it. So if it was fixing something, or even when we put our pool in, he and his buddy Jerry went out there, and God forbid they read instructions. But the whole, you know, they figured it out as they went along. But my dad's a mechanical engineer, so he's, you know, I kind of get that. And then my mom is super creative. Like, she was Martha Stewart before mother Stewart even thought about being Martha Stewart. That's awesome. I got that good balance of both of them. Yeah. But I was an artist and I went off to college, and I got my degree in music and then decided I like to eat. So I went to work for the phone company. Did that while I was in marketing, and sales and in marketing, and and I did that for 14 or 15 years, and then I got the whole, you know.com thing got big. And so I moved from Dallas, down to Austin 20 years ago and did the whole.com thing for 10 years and finally have had enough of that. And I sit in my office one day was like, somebody's going down, and it ain't gonna be me. There you go. I just started thinking What can I do for a living and I just made a list of things that I thought I could do and that I could monetize. And then when I landed on this, I wrote a business plan. And there you go. So started at the depths of the Great Recession, and uh huh. nowhere to go. But up. Yeah.
Debbie DeBerry 06:39
Yeah. That's when I started flipping houses. Yeah, in this market. Thanks. And you can't start a business now. Okay. The whole you can't start a business right now. Okay, flip houses in this market. nobody's doing anything.
Right. Or you're 45? What do you mean, you're gonna just start your own company? What? Yeah, yes.
Debbie DeBerry 07:09
All right. So you're 45 you were 45. When you made this decision?
You say I'm 45? Now? Sure. No, yeah, I was 45 then.
Debbie DeBerry 07:17
And you? I want to know, did you have some naysayers? Did you have some people saying like, what are you doing?
Only my mother. But the naysayer and she that's her Mo. Like just as a bit of background. So in 2002, I moved to Budapest for about a year and a half. And it long story. But I'd gone there on a consulting gig and met a guy and fell in love and blah, blah, blah. Well, I'm not living there so clearly. But, but everybody was like, Christie wasn't a great opportunity. And you're so lucky. And what a great, exciting adventure. Except my mother, who was like, Are you crazy? I'm like, Okay, so then I was like, 3839 when I moved there, I'm like, call it a midlife crisis, I don't know. But then when I decided to up and you know, leave the corporate world with all those cushy juicy benefits and, you know, money. And everybody again, was like, Oh, my gosh, girl, you can do it. I'm so proud of you. I mean, who knows what they were really thinking in private yet. My mother says those things. But I don't know. I just took it with a grain of salt. And, you know, because she, she just wants me to be safe and just wants me to be taken care of. It's not because she didn't think I couldn't. Sure. You know, but you know, their children have the depression. So steady paycheck. What? Yeah, so I go from, you know, big, fat juicy paycheck to 100%. commission overnight. all my friends, everybody was super supportive and awesome.
Debbie DeBerry 09:06
What was that? Like, can you define a certain point where you're like, I can't do this. Okay. So there's a very clear moment where you were?
Yeah. And you know, people say, you don't know until you know, right. But people would say, yeah, there was that time when I knew and I just knew, I was actually sitting in my office in. It was March of 2009. And I said to my assistant, I said, I think I'm having a heart attack. I'm gonna go to the emergency room. And it was more like, I just had this really weird uncomfortable. I can't even describe it feeling. So I get to the emergency room. And first of all, my mom, she's like, do you want to drive you're like, Oh, no, no, I'll be fine. It was like this weird out of body experience. I go to the emergency room and he's like, you are not having a heart attack, you are having a panic attack. Oh my gosh. And so they do the stress tests, do all the stuff. And he says you've got the heart of a 25 year old. I'm like, so then what's the what? He said, it's stress, it's gonna kill you. But it's stress. I'm like, Alright, so march of 2009, is when I started, the wheels started turning. When I was like, I got to have an exit plan I got to get out of here. And so that's when I started, literally sat down and made a list, dog, groomer, hairdresser, florists, anything that I thought I'd enjoy, right? I mean, greeter at Walmart. It was like all of these because I just sorted check out. I did not want responsibility. I was as high as I was ever gonna go director level and it was, you know, the stress and you're only as good as your last touchdown and like, but I just made you $5 million. Well, what can you do first now and you know, just that ongoing? Nothing is ever good enough. And I'm like, I can't do this anymore. Yeah, that gets exhausting. It's exhausting. It's mentally exhausting. And, and my mom would call me like, on a Saturday night. Hey, what are you doing this weekend? I'm like, I'm sitting at my dining room table on my laptop, working on a spreadsheet. Mom, you know, she's like, You're killing yourself. And it's that was that aha moment that I'm like, when the doctors like get stressed. It'll kill you. I'm like, What am I doing this for? Yeah. What am I don't have children. I'm not married. But Gee, I'd like to have a life. Right. So anywho. So I sat down, made that list and then just started widow in it down to Okay, these are all nice, but what can I actually do that would make me a living? Uh huh. And that's when I got down to this. And I had always done this for fun. Uh huh. And, you know, my homes were always my projects, and my friends would hire me. And then they would refer me to other people. So it was really kind of doing it, but not in a formal or the fashion that it is now, you know? Sure. And so it just, it just took off. And I started, I just put out an email to, like, some animal welfare groups that I'd been working with. And I said, Hey, I'll come do stuff at the shelter and give you 10% off and I was like, 10% off of what? I don't know, cuz I didn't have a fritzing structure. I’ll jus make it up! Yeah, but I went out there. And then you know, word of mouth, word of mouth, word of mouth. I've never advertised, I've just had referrals, repeat business. So
Debbie DeBerry 12:45
that's awesome. So March 2009 to…
Yeah. Then I finally left. I gave them my notice. It was my birthday in October. And that was the day I gave them my notice, okay. And I said, Okay, this is what we're gonna do. We were working on the 2010 plan, that I will do the budgets, I will do the org charts, I will do the marketing plan, I'll do all the stuff. I'll write, I'll make a transition plan. You know, for me leaving. I don't want to, I wouldn't want to be that person who walks away and leaves this pile of, you know, garbage. And I don't want them going, Oh, Christy, she screwed up, blah, blah, blah. You know, because it's always easy to throw the person who's gone under the bus. Sure, like not having that because I do have too much of a reputation. So I worked out that plan and gave him a six week plan. And I left around the end of November of 2009. And then I went home and slept for a month, literally. And then I went on a cruise with my friends. And then I came back and figured it out.
Debbie DeBerry 13:58
Yeah, jumped in.
pretty much feet first cold water.
Debbie DeBerry 14:04
Um, that's sometimes the best way to do it.
So the only way I knew I didn't know any other way. Sure.
Debbie DeBerry 14:10
So you decide, all right, I'm gonna be a GC whatever that means. I'm just gonna, I'm gonna figure it out. So you just started. I love the way you started. I love that you reached out to animal shelters that you were already like volunteering for.
I knew they needed to help and there were things that I needed to do that I was already doing. But I'm like, Oh, you need that. I mean, I was I would I did everything in tiling put up light fixtures, and ceiling fans here. You need a backsplash. Okay, found out I'm really no good at plumbing. If I don't, I guess I don't have the upper body to move a wrench. I don't know. But, you know, just and then my over time, you know, I built up a team of guys. Hey, I need a guy to do this. I need somebody to do that. And You know, you go through who I went through potheads and meth heads, and trunks, and people who just don't show up and or people who tried to mansplain to me and I was like, Don't even. And it just over time, you know, I just found people and I built up my team. And now most of them have been with me since, you know, for at least 10 years, I've been to all their kids camps in years and, and I help them with their taxes, and, you know, their families to me and, and so I've built up a core group of people who are super dependable, who are family guys in, you know, I get comments all the time about, they were so tidy, they were so respectful, which you think is really minor. Right? But I've heard so many horror stories were just guiseley you know, junk all over the Yeah, yeah, so many was so built up by teams. And, and, and not to say that it's always been easy, but you know, and then even my subs, plumbers, electricians, APAC, anything that requires licenses, I've built relationships with those guys. They're the only ones I use on my project. So tons of continuity. And so I, I don't even know now how long it's been since I actually had the tile something. But now it's project management. So I love the design part, I love helping a client go from idea in their head to visualization of what this is really going to do. The benefit that it's going to give them in terms of extra functionality, extra storage, etc. And then, you know, doing the project and managing all the bazillion and 12 details that Joe homeowner would shoot themselves in their head before they ever thought about doing that. I tell people all the time, I'm like, never try to do this with your spouse and stay married. It's not going to happen.
Debbie DeBerry 17:09
As an aside, we were talking about licensed subs and stuff. so Texas, used to have a GC license. So you've been you've been a GC long enough where you were actually licensed by taxes.
Uh no, I've never had I've never had a license
Debbie DeBerry 17:29
No. Well, so that was it's been that long. I thought it was like-
Well, unless I was screwed myself and didn't have one and didn't know any better. But, I mean, I tried to do my homework and my due diligence, but I couldn't find any licensing body. I mean, you have to have a license to be an official interior designer, right? Well, you have to have the credentials, right? You have to if you're going to do you know, the plumbing and HVAC and all that. And I'm smart enough to know, like, where my skill set ends? Yeah. And, you know, just going through the process and learning, it's like, oh, you're putting yourself at risk, if you don't sure do that. And then, you know, even you know, finding a good attorney and getting a good contract, because I kind of left myself wide open on some things. And so, yeah, you know, just just building all that in and getting insurance and just becoming a real live grown up, you know, and having this reputable company that people can depend on to not just be some fly by night. Any Bubba with a hammer can call himself a contractor, you know? Yeah, said I just meander through the woods there too much?
Debbie DeBerry 18:44
No. So one of the things that often concerns me is I love this DIY movement. Okay, I think it's awesome. Right? What concerns me is when people who are renovating houses, not for themselves, but for you know, to fix up and flip and make a profit. Right? When they're there DIY a lot of things and they don't really fully know what they're doing. And they're kind of winging it,
I run into a lot of those that I have to fix.
Debbie DeBerry 19:16
Okay, so, but like, I feel like liability wise, like one of the big things I hear one of the big objections or concerns is, I really want to flip houses. Um, I, you know, I just, I don't want to put myself at too much risk and, and then they're like, but I want to save money. So I'm going to DIY it and I'm like, you don't want risk and you're going to do the renovation work yourself. Like it doesn't make sense to me. Do you have any? I don't know. Like, I don't know, words of wisdom. Do you have any advice for people? Because I think that's a really big topic right now.
Yeah. Well, I mean, and HGTV is wonderful. The DIY network is wonderful because it's really it's really helped my industry. It's really helped my business in more ways than it is hurt it because people also see, they see what can be done. But then they also see, gosh, that should be easy or Oh, unreasonable expectations, like I was watching a show, which will not be named, but it's based here in Texas, and they're very adorable couple. But the husband will say, oh, we'll do this tankless water heater that ought to be 20 $500. And I'm like screaming at the television world, In what world is that? 20 $500? You know, it's unreasonable. So when I've come people have bought a house that has been flipped, especially in neighborhoods like Brentwood, Crestview Wooten. You know, I go in there and I'm like, oh, Lord, they slept lipstick on a pig. Yeah. And tile is literally falling off the wall. Or why is there water leaking out everywhere because somebody flipped it and put tile on top of green board or worse, sheet rock, or, okay. All of your plumbing is galvanized from the 50s hooked on to cast iron from the God knows when hooked up to copper, and there's all of this corrosion and now you've got grey water making caverns under your house for the last 20 years. And you know, your everything is disintegrating. And oh, your house things leveled. I mean, so a $70,000 project can turn into $100,000 project overnight. Because you go in and you find out your plumbing is just, you know, either they didn't get it inspected. That's probably the number one thing. I would never buy a house. That has been flipped. And that was done without permits. Yeah. Yeah, yeah. And anymore. If I drive around, and I'll see a house, it's getting done and a bunch of trucks parked outside, and it's in the same neighborhood as one of mine. And I don't see a permit in the window. Boom. somebody's getting a phone call it cuz it's, it's, it can be dangerous.
Debbie DeBerry 22:09
I totally agree with that. It absolutely can be dangerous. It absolutely can. And when your name is attached to that project. yeah, that's a little scary.
It’s a little scary. And nobody knows that. Maybe this guy's thinking, Hey, I'll do it. I'll get in. I'll make my money. I'll get out. No one will be the wiser. But I just figured karma is going to catch up with you. And I don't want anybody to get hurt. So yeah, hi. words of advice are, yes, you can do it yourself. But educate yourself. Right? Right. don't slap tile on top of green board or drywall, learn how to make a waterproof shower or tub surround or whatever you're you're building. Learn of how pipe sizes, I mean, even if you hire a plumber, and I depend on my plumbers and my subs to know their stuff. And they are licensed masters, and they've got a reputation. But that doesn't mean my responsibility stops I learned from them. Sure I find out about why you can't do it this way, or why you should do it that way. Right? You know, so a lot of education goes on. So that when I am talking to a client, he says, but I saw it on an HGTV show, why can't I do it this way? Or I did my plumbing myself. Let me show you what I did. And I'm like, Oh, yeah, you might not want to do that. You know. So knowing what you're getting yourself into realizing the risk that's involved with it. And educating yourself on building codes. There's there's books out there that you can get, you can go to the city, they will help you it's cumbersome, but they will help you learning. Oh my gosh, I trial Baptism by fire, whatever you want to call it just going learning the city's permitting process and that whole thing because they'll say Oh, can we get this easy to use website? No, you don't know, you know, I used to do that for a living. No, you do not have easy to navigate website. Just you know, and it is a lot of trouble. And then being able to communicate that to a homeowner that that's your value add right? You can get some guy who just swings a hammer, but if you want it done right, a you got to pay for it. And be you have to have somebody who's put the time in who's right. done the homework, who will go down to the city and you will sit there for four hours and yeah, go through that drama with the with the folks down there. Oh, believe me, I the people who have worked with at the city. I don't hold them responsible for the initiative. attitude of the process, because they're lovely. And I've had nothing but wonderful experiences working with the individuals in the development office. It's just the bureaucracy around it. That can be very confusing, right? It's very intimidating.
Debbie DeBerry 25:16
Yes and frustrating. Absolutely. Yeah.
Yeah, yeah, we all sit down there in the lobby while we're waiting to be called. And you see the same people all the time. architects, designers, builders, and it's, we call a group therapy, because we're just all complaining.
Debbie DeBerry 25:36
Okay, so are there common mistakes that you're seeing diy’ers wires make? Or is it just in general? You can, like just in general, there's just lots of mistakes.
So in general, there's lots of mistakes just kind of sloppy work with, you know, like drywalling for example, that's an art. you know, anybody can put up sheetrock I've seen some very nasty cuts that look like badgers chewed on the edges. I'm like, get a knife and get a new blade, you know, simple stuff like that. And then drywall and like, the texture application really is an art and you got to practice. Yeah, you know, cuz I've seen some really bad dry patches and things like that. But um, can you restate your question? Could you?
Debbie DeBerry 26:22
Oh, yeah. Just like top mistakes that you see DIY?
Yeah, yeah, so the one that I mentioned before about tiling. Take some classes. Look at some DIY or or YouTube videos. You know, you spacers he's a leveler use the proper tools. That to me is just common sense. But I have seen haven't watched a very camera ready woman who has her own show based in Michigan? Putting tile on the wall. And she's no spacers nothing and she turns around. And and no leveling knows no starter board or anything like that. And she turns around and says to the camera, does this look level to you? I'm like, Oh, girl, you didn't even…
Debbie DeBerry 27:08
that's the problem.
Yeah. And they're like, they make it just look so simple. You just slap this towel on the wall? In the proper steps to waterproof it, etc. And so, you know, everything from the simple stuff to like I said, the permit so that Oh, some electrical things. Oh, gosh, you can't just run romax from your porch to your garage. You just can't string it up. You know, you again, you're putting yourself at risk. There's this stuff called conduit. There's no proper procedure for that, that keeps you safe. And not burning your house down? Oh, my gosh, you know, so I see a lot of that we've opened up walls where people have done their own, quote unquote, wiring and I literally found extension cords in walls. No, I found it in attics. Just running things. You know, like we needed light over in this room. So I just tied onto this. And I just ran this or Yeah, once and that's in rural areas where there aren't necessarily there's no permits even required to in town and stuff. People have just done that they probably knew better. Yet not doing a junction box, just you know, taping some wires together and using wire nuts and all of that exposed in an attic and oh my gosh, yeah. So it's usually a plumbing or an electrical thing that I've I've run into hire licensed professionals. Don't be Thank you. Yeah, don't be cheap. It's like that old saying are that mean that you see a lot or I see it a lot. If you think it's expensive to hire professional. Just wait till you hire an amateur. Right? Exactly. Yeah, then it's a really good or my other favorite is can you do this cheaper? Well, no, if you want it done, right, right. Like it is what it is. Yeah. Like they were going along and we're doing you know the big surprises when you're doing a project. Usually a large scale project is you find them during demo and the walls go down. Right That's when you're gonna see electrical plumbing. Ah, back in the horror that is behind your wall. I've taken down sheet rock and found studs riddled with termite damage. Yeah, or water damage and I'm like, how's the wall even stand right? But, um, they're like, well, isn't there a cheaper way to fix that? I'm like, not if you want your wall to stay up. Now if you want the poop to drain out of the drain and go to the sewer there's only one way to do it. But so I tell everybody Listen, you know, here's the estimate, I write it out, I detail it. But there's always that caveat. We don't know what's behind the wall until we get there, right? But I also make a point. We don't do anything until we talk to the homeowner and say, Hey, buddy, we run into x. Now, here are the possible solutions, A, B, or C. Here are the costs associated with that. Sometimes it's only a right. There is only one solution. Yeah, you know, the poop has to leave your house. You have to have that pipe. I can't divert it into a bucket for you. Sorry. That's too graphic for you.
Debbie DeBerry 30:49
I like graphic.
What my plumber says Christie will take care of this shitty you take care of the property. I love it. I love it. Yeah, we deal with a lot of you. Before I ever do a bathroom job, especially in a house built in the 80s or older? Uh huh. I have the plumbers come out. They run the camera. We find it it's like a colonoscopy for your house. Yep. You see everything. There are no secrets between you and me anymore. Mr. Client. I see your toilet. I see what you have flush. toilet. And it's there. Because we want to look for tree roots or herbs or special kitchen people. Oh man, Lord, they wash all kinds of crap down there. kitchen sink and all every little bit of bacon grease or cooking oil or whatever. It creates a fat bird. Yep. And then you get poop birds and baby wipes. I don't care how flushable they say they are
Debbie DeBerry 31:48
Yeah, I know. I've seen there was some documentary I was watching about those flushable mom, adult wipes. And it was disgusting. Disgusting. I was like oh my gosh
And you think it's disgusting? And just to see it. I mean, it's fascinating and cool, and disgusting all at the same time. Because they run the camera and we watch it on the video. Right? And there's some times I'm like, oh, look away, look away. But I luckily am not the person who has to clean that out. Right? Those plumbers man they earn their money, man. last job I want is that laughs Yeah. And and you know, the older houses like in Hyde Park, and a lot of them were on pier and beam. Yeah, they've got a crawl under the house. I'm like these critters living under their dead critters under there. I don't do that I again, electricians and plumbers earn every penny especially when they're crawling around in those attics and under the house.
Debbie DeBerry 32:50
Oh, right. You know, amen to that. What are some of your favorite ways? Or things maybe you suggest to homeowners that they can add good value to their house pretty inexpensively?
That's a really good question. And I actually get that a lot paint is going to be love cheapest thing you can do to make the biggest impact in the shortest amount of time. Ah, whether it's interior or exterior paint. Exterior especially because it I mean, it's protective, right? Yeah. It depending on where you are in Austin if your house was built in the 70s or the 80s. And they use that crap Mason, I basically cardboard and if it's not maintained water intrusion critters chew on it. And the next thing you know, you've got mold, mildew and rotten drywall in your house and she rocking out. So paint Not only is aesthetic, it's protective. Uh huh. That's a good a good, a good quality paint. You know, like we particularly only use Sherwin Williams. Yeah. I'm from the big box stores, I would say valspar. Even more than bear but that's just my personal opinion.
Interesting because of what the coverage or the whatever age and and the the durability?
Good and, and even color, for example, on when, especially if I'm doing an outside or an exterior, and a customer once at a very dark hue, which you don't they're beautiful, like you see those dark dark grey houses or dark dark blue? Or one of my neighborhood Actually, it's beautiful. They did that like this really dark charcoal with the white trim and it's beautiful. But I'm like, Oh, I hope they use good paint because Texas sun man, that's gonna be Yeah, it's gonna beat it out of it and you want it to last because painting your house ain't cheap. No, two story. Right? Right. So you know you get what you pay for that old adage. And but this is took on the interior doors and trim and baseboards door trim, you always want to use an oil. Especially if you get kids. And it's it's going to clean up easier. It's easier to to scrub clean. Never God never use flat paint unless it's on a ceiling. I'd like to make flat pain against the law. A lot of these builders, the volume builders go in and they spray and it's just flat paint, and you're never going to get that clean. Oh, unless you want to run around touching paint all the time. Yeah, do the same token on the inside with it with with fading, just because it's what you put out what you get in the can and you put it on the wall. Time heat, temperature, humidity, it's if you don't want to be repainting your house every few years. And durability. You know, use a good quality paint, always use a primer. Don't use primer in a paint the paint that's got it in the primer. Yeah. It's never as good as priming the walls first.
Debbie DeBerry 36:07
That's what I hear. Yeah
I love it. These walls are super dry. A lot of the homes that I go into have been painted for years. And the IP sucks up the paint like a sponge. And so if you don't want to waste money on expensive paint, then spend the money on good primer. Mm hmm.
Debbie DeBerry 36:30
Are there any common misconceptions that homeowners have about renovating their house? Maybe? timeframe? Or, obviously money? money's always a big thing. They always Oh, that's what more than I thought it would be. But aside from that, are there some common misconceptions you come across,
Unknown Speaker 36:48
I think the biggest to hard time and money and the disruption to their lives. So that's why when I meet with a client, especially a kitchen, I mean, that's the heart of your home. Yeah, and you know, I try to prepare them for some people are awesome. Like, man, they set up the instapot in the crock pot in the microwave, and a coffee maker, and they've got it, and they you know, they got life to live. And some people are just completely clueless. So, you know, making accommodations, and I try to give my clients realistic timelines like I give, I know, you're gonna fall over and die on a schedule to my clients
Debbie DeBerry 37:40
What? that you actually stick to?
I mean, I'm a project manager. That's what we do. That's crazy talk. I think it's incumbent on the project manager, the GC to do that. And so before we start the project, I kind of give them the overview of this is how the project is going to roll out. This is the overview of what's going to happen this week, this week, this week, this week. And then as we get into the project, okay, here's the nitty gritty, this is what's going to happen this week, this is what you should be prepared for it. And like, for example, we're doing this kitchen rental right now. And I let the homeowner know, hey, Tuesday and Wednesday, the plumbers are going to be there, we're going to be jackhammering the slab, you need to take the stuff off the walls, you need to probably be out of the house, you know, that kind of stuff. And so just trying to give them as much information as possible, so that they can live while this is going on. Right? Generally, do I have a client who's like, I'm just gonna move out for three months?
Debbie DeBerry 38:52
That would be nice, right? And Take all your stuff with you!
I had one client, she was a hoot. She was from Switzerland originally. And she goes back every year for a couple weeks. So we spent like three months planning her fancy kitchen. And then she's like, Okay, I'm leaving you with this chunk of money. And when I come back, let's have it done. And I'm like, great, because it's awesome. He didn't have to see how the sausage was made. She didn't have to live through all the dust. Right? And you know, we could work 12 hours a day because no one was there. And she comes home and it's like for her it wasn't like a TV show.
Debbie DeBerry 39:33
Right, right it was was you can have a big reveal and everything.
Yeah. So yeah. You know, try to give as much information about the schedule and the time it's going to take and I'd rather over promise or I'm sorry, under promise and over deliver. So I'm going to push Yes. If I think it's really six weeks. I'm going to tell them eight. Yeah, I think it's really four is I'm going to tell them six. Yeah. Yeah and and then of course the money now. I when I Am I giving my estimates I make sure that I'm very clear, this is an estimate. Because you don't know what's going to happen. But as we go along in the process, and it's all about communication, you get clearer and clearer on what the expectations are. And, and then just keeping track of the money and communicating. So for example, I give weekly statements to my clients. So nothing on that statement should be a surprise. If we added or subtracted any work that's going to be on there. And they'll already know about it. Any payments that they make. It's on there, clearly they know about it, they made the payment. So just being as transparent as absolutely possible.
Debbie DeBerry 40:46
And everything just communicate everything you do in life. Just communicate.
Yeah, don't make assumptions I had, yeah, I, I'll go oh, my God, I'll go into people's homes. And they'll have had the most beautiful master bathroom. But then they call me and they want me to do their kitchen or vice versa, right? And I'm like, but that's beautiful. Why are you not using that person? You're like, Whoa, we love the result. But we hated the process. There was no clear communication, never get a hold of our contractor. We never knew when they were coming, they left the house a mess. I've had luck, they let my dog out, you know, just all that stuff. And you know, just all this drama that could be easily, easily averted by just paying attention and doing your job and being a professional.
Debbie DeBerry 41:44
Right. Do you have like, I think you mentioned earlier your favorite parts are really the design piece and me and kind of managing the whole process.
Yeah, I like it. righty then the circus, the ringleader of the circus.
Debbie DeBerry 41:59
Yep, exactly. What are other any parts that you just despise?
Uhm, dysfunctional people who have mental issues, and that's a lot of people. I am not paid enough to be your marriage counselor. Or your personal counselor? And I mean, is it because I'm a woman? I don't know. Maybe so but it's, um, I've had to learn. I'm a very outgoing, gregarious person, but I have had to establish boundaries. It is hard. It's hard for me, because I want people who love me, I want them to love the process. And I wanted to refer me to other people. But at the same time, I'm, I'm still doing this for a living, you know, right. Alright. And I am not after 500 something clients. I could write a book on crazy people. And you know, and learning designs like, Ooh, I'm gonna have to walk away from this one, or I've been on a job kind of thing. Being willing to say no, is very hard. And I and I, every time I think I learned that lesson, I find out I got a little more to learn.
Debbie DeBerry 43:17
I’m with you Sister, yeah.
yeah. And because in our wedding, people honestly take advantage of you. I think people hire me because I'm a woman and they assume I am more detail oriented, which in my case is true. Um, because I do love working with the clients. I do love the nitty gritty. I love planning all the details down to what's your organizer in your silverware drawer gonna be you know, so from major to minor, but but at the same time, I think because I personally am more, probably gregarious and empathetic. I don't know, if people consciously try to take advantage of that, or they just assume it could take advantage of a woman and less necessarily maybe gruff or standoffish as your typical male contractor.
Debbie DeBerry 44:18
Yep. Yeah. I could see that it would be a I can see that it would be a benefit to be a female contractor. Just because, like, sexism goes both ways. Right? So a female contractor, I think, yeah, she's gonna pay attention to the detail. She's gonna communicate better. She's going to care more. She's gonna show up. I do think those things. Yeah,
yeah. And, and, and I use that to my advantage, right?
Debbie DeBerry 44:48
Yeah. Right. He's what you got. Do you have any tips for women who are either interested in becoming GCS for you know other people or women who are wanting to get into flipping houses. So managing their own projects. Do you have any?
I wish I had an I wish I had more advice or advice to pass on about the financing side of that. Because Yeah, I don't you know, I spend other people's money. judiciously. But, but just from a practical standpoint. Having a business acumen has served me immeasurably. Um, sometimes I think, gosh, I wish I would have started this 30 years ago, but I wouldn't have the business background that I had had or now, you know, sure. Yeah. So don't assume that just because you're good at something, painting or making things pretty, or making things pretty, that you're a good business person, right? No, like my painter, great painter been doing it for 30 years, can't manage his way out of a paper bag. I'm like, get a frickin calendar, you know? Right. Right. So being having that set of skills, and primarily, it's organization and time management. Yeah. Those are the two biggest. And I think most important things that any buddy can have in this business. Because it's all about managing a project and being able to time things, so that you can have consistent cash flow. Yeah. Because I think a lot of people fail early on, because, you know, you get this big influx of cash all at once, but you got to know how that's gonna pan out over, you know that the next three months and keeping things in your pipeline, right? Yes, exactly. So try is so being able to manage an existing project, and all of the bazillion details, or the left end million details that go with that, all while trying to go out and win other business and then manage that without getting overextended and losing your mind. Right, which I've done. So, organization, organization skills and time management are the two biggest skills that you need to be successful.
Debbie DeBerry 47:30
I'm going to add communication to that. I think you're totally right. Otherwise, I mean, it's just like it, here's the thing. The beauty is, if you don't have those things, you can absolutely get educated and get training, get nice things,
right. or hire a sub who can do those things. But you have to manage them. And you have to communicate with them.
Debbie DeBerry 47:55
Yeah, find someone to be on your team that can do those things. But right. Just being I'm just saying it's okay, I don't, oh, I don't have those things. That's not okay.
Right. And being able to find, find the people who can, and also not making assumptions, just because it's, um, when you're doing a design for someone, it really helps to innocence. This is the communication part, getting to know that person paying attention when you go in their home, and you see how they live. And you see what their challenges are, or you see what their style is like, because you're not imposing your aesthetic on someone else. Right? You're helping them to express their aesthetic or develop their aesthetic because some people don't even. I mean, like if I gave somebody a quiz and said, Are you Neo farmhouse? Are you shabby chic? Are you traditional? They don't know. I mean, they have no idea because I've seen all these quizzes and all these stupid websites, just go in and talk to people and you see what it is, and then you can help direct them down the path that they need to go down to get the result that they say that they want at the very beginning. Yes. Makes sense?
Debbie DeBerry 49:19
Yeah, makes perfect sense. Absolutely. Um, is there anything else you want to say before we end the call? I'm trying to be mindful of our time together.
Appreciate that. Um, anything else I want to say? always work with a contract. It protects you and it protects your client. Payment schedules: I if it's going to be a three month project, and I know about how much it's going to cost I you know, I've got my 10% down payment and it's a non refundable holds dates on my calendar, then I do a payment schedule based over those next 12 weeks, customers are comfortable with payment schedules, they know what to expect, it's not a surprise when you come to them for payment. A lot of people are uncomfortable asking for money. I'm like, I'm not, this is what I do for a living, I'm really my ass off and you're gonna pay me. You know, and, and, and I just always found that odd when people ask for money, or Oh, how much whatever you think No, not whatever you think it's how much it is. You know, it is what it is. And so, you know, just, to me all that's encompassed under organization and management skills, but, you know, protecting yourself and having that in writing it, it goes a long way to giving that customer that sense of security. Yeah. And then also being insured. So I have like, a $2 million liability policy. Thank you. God, I've never had to use it. But yeah. I never want to have to use it.
Debbie DeBerry 51:05
Well, and here's the thing. I mean, honestly, I'm glad you brought up insurance, because that's another way that I see these people skimping. It's like, oh, I don't want to I'm even over the years of being an investor. I've even seen people skimp on title insurance, like $300,000 property they're buying, like, you're trying to save 1000 bucks. And uh huh. Oh, I mean, until you have a title issue. You're gonna be like, Oh, that's fine. It is. It's dumb. Because title insurance saved me about 80,000.
You know, I don't love spending $2700. Yeah, I don't love it. I could do a lot of other things with $2700. You got to have insurance. Oh, my gosh, don't be cheap. It’s going to Come back and bite you in the butt. That's all part of being a grown up. And all part of being a professional is adulting. It's adulting. And sometimes adulting is hard. And, you know, and when customers say why do things cost so much? Well, it's your job as the professional to explain it to them. And explain it to them as a benefit it protect them. It does.
Yeah, absolutely. Well, that's a great note to end on. Right there. insure yourself according to the fix chick. Kristi, you're awesome. I'm so grateful for you spending time with me and sharing part of your story and just giving us so much insight that you did. Thank you.
Gosh, thank you. I am so thrilled that somebody wanted to know, and that you're leaving exist. Thank you for doing this so that people will learn because I mean, girls gotta you know, support other girls. I'm still a girl. I don't care how old I am girl power. Thanks a bunch, Debbie.
Debbie DeBerry 53:00
You're awesome. I appreciate you. Thank you so much.
I appreciate it. All right. Talk to you soon. Bye
Debbie DeBerry 53:06
All right, you guys. I hope that you got so much value out of that conversation with the fixit chick. And I'm pretty sure you did. I know that there were lots of little nuggets here and there. So in closing, I want you to be sure to get on the waitlist because I am about to open doors to our very first real estate investing retreat. Where will will meets house flipping? All right, it's called flip your heart out. It's going to be in Austin, Texas, September 24 through 26th. And it's going to be unlike any Rei event you've been to. I guarantee it. All right. This ain't your good old boys real estate investing event. So go get on the waitlist, flip your heart out.com and until next time, go out there flip houses like a girl. Leave people and places better than you find them and make it a great day. Bye y’all