Plumbing DIY in House Hack Turned Camping Trip
Hello Fellow House Hackers! Here is a post I put together roughly a year ago when we were living in our first house hack and then life happened and never got around to sharing it. Hope you enjoy.
Two Learning Options!
  1. Watch the YouTube video (at the bottom).
  2. Read the blog post. Note, the blog is an executive summary. Get the in-depth breakdown from the video.

House Hack in Arvada Rental Income

My wife and I have a house hack in Arvada, Colorado. We live in a 4 bed/ 3 bath Single Family Home. The main level of the home is a 3 bed/2 bath, and we have an attached 1 bed/1 bath mother-in-law suite above our garage we rent out. Up until May of 2020, we were seeing excellent rental income through the Airbnb platform. Summer months we averaged $1950/month and winter months we were averaging $1,500/ month, all after expenses. 

Since COVID, we have noticed our Airbnb traffic/income decrease significantly. So, my wife and I were forced to get creative and decided to temporarily take it off Airbnb and rent it out on 3 month lease through Furnished Finder for $1,200/month. 

With the decrease in rental income, OF COURSE I am going to do everything I can to see all of that stay in our pocket and not go out the door for maintenance expenses. 

A Disturbing Discovery

Now to the main point of this post – this past week I noticed a custom black spotted paint job starting to form under our kitchen sink cabinet (MOLD).

Denver house hack repair DIY

Rental Home Repair DIY

My original intention was just to knock out and replace the base and walls of the kitchen cabinet and call it good. If anyone has ever heard the saying, do not go knocking down walls, especially in a home built in the 50’s. You are just going to open up pandora’s box of a laundry list of things that need fixed. Well…case in point!!

After taking out the floor of the kitchen cabinet, which ended up being completely soaked with water, I discovered the house’s original 60 year old galvanized plumbing was completely rotted away at the 90 degree joint going down into our crawl space.

Denver house hack repair DIY plumbing

After seeing that, I was at a loss for words. My wife said I cried after seeing that, but I am pretty sure I just had dust in both my eyes. My plumbing knowledge was very minimal and this is something that a professional plumber needed to do. However, the last thing I wanted to do was pay a fortune (well, at least in my mind) for a plumber come out that will start out charging $100 out the gate just look at it. With that in mind and knowing we are seeing roughly $500/month less in rent each month, to my wife’s strong discouragement, I decided to see how much I could do myself. Every piece of old brittle galvanized pipe I started cutting out, another old brittle piece of plumbing just broke off down the line eventually leading my DYI project into our crawlspace.

Denver house hack repair DIY sink repair
Denver house hack repair DIY old galvanized pipe
Denver house hack repair DIY joint repair
Denver house hack rental DIY repair
Denver house hack repair DIY after

When it was all said and done, it took about 6 separate trips to Home Depot, and by the end of it, everyone in the store knew me by name and what I was there for. Total actual cost ended up being just under $100 for replacement parts and materials. It took me a total of 15 hours (5 Friday, 5 Saturday, and you guessed it, 5 Sunday). Oh, and I did forget to mention that this was over the weekend of our wedding anniversary. Whoops.

How Much I Saved by Doing the Home Repair Myself

Just doing all of the work myself, I estimated a savings +/-$650.

  • 1 Plumber @ $100/hr for 3 hours of work
  • Hiring a handy man to rebuild kitchen cabinet @ $50/hr for 3 hours’ worth of work
  • $200 ($100 worth of material x2. I have notice traditional companies will do to cover some overhead and profit)
  • Total savings of $550 

Since my wife was so supportive during this whole process and letting me do everything myself and listening to me curse up a storm trying to learn plumbing on the fly in our crawlspace, we celebrated our wedding anniversary 1 week later by taking $50 of our saved repair money and going camping/hiking for the weekend.

Colorado camping firepit

House Hacking Tips and Advice

A few takeaways I learned over this weekend:

  • Use your resources! The information is out there to do anything you want (i.e. YouTube, your neighbors, the retired plumber that now works at Home Depot on the weekend)
  • Be sure family never comes second. If your loved one lets you work on repairs on an investment property that was your idea in the first place, make sure that debt is repaid with some quality time with your loved ones.
  • Do what you need to do to keep as much rental income in your pocket each month.
  • Sorry for being so cliché but… when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

Free House Hacking Resources

If you would like to learn more about house hacking, check out the Ultimate House Hacking Guide which provides a detailed, specific action plan on how to buy house hacks and build a rental portfolio in Denver.

If online learning isn’t your thing, the guide is also available in book form on Amazon.

And look for our House Hack Mastermind podcast series on the Denver Real Estate Investing Podcast hosted by Jeff White and myself. Each episode is packed with practical content for the first time house hacker.

If you have questions about house hacking, please reach out. My contact information is below.

YouTube Video: Plumbing DIY in House Hack Turned Camping Trip

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Ben Einspahr
Ben Einspahr is the House Hacking & AirBnB Specialist at Envision Advisors. He helps clients implement strategies that generate above average income from their properties in Denver, where cashflow is getting harder and harder to find. He’s an investor himself, and for the past several years he’s been building his portfolio both in and out of state. He has 3 properties which he’s used to replace his w-2 income. It just goes to show how the number of doors matters so much less than the cashflow that each one produces!
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