Renovate your home on a budget, according to house flipping couple

Couple who flip houses in their spare time and made £40,000 on their latest project reveal the tips that will help YOU make a profit – including choosing bold colours over magnolia walls and not touching the garden

  • Deborah Marshall, 47, and husband Paul, 44, are serial house flippers
  • The married couple have renovated and sold five houses in the last eight years 
  • Deborah, from Yorkshire, reveals her  tips to renovate your home on a budget 

A couple who flip houses in their spare time have shared their renovation tips, including choosing bold colours over plain magnolia walls. 

Deborah Marshall, 47, who is training to be a podiatrist, and her husband Paul, 44, who works as a joiner, have renovated and sold five houses in Yorkshire over the last eight years, while keeping up with their 9-5 jobs. 

The couple made £40,000 on their latest project – a three-bedroom semi – and are saving up to pay off their mortgage and to add to their pension pots.

After: A couple who flip houses in their spare time have shared their renovation tips, including choosing bold colours over plain magnolia walls. Pictured, a kitchen renovated by the couple 

Before: The tired kitchen was replaced with one that looks much more modern and appealing

Speaking to LatestDeals.co.uk, Deborah explained they live in homes while they are working on them in order to reduce costs. They also complete most of the work themselves, such as tiling, grouting and painting. 

Deborah said: ‘Many of the projects we take on need a top-to-toe refurb, but I like a challenge. However, when the walls come down and there’s rubble everywhere, I can start to wonder how we’ll see it through. But we always do.’

Once they finish a project, it’s straight onto the next one. ‘It’s a bit addictive, like scratching an itch,’ says Deborah. ‘Although I may not be singing the same tune in a few months’ time when I’m wedged in a kitchen cubbyhole cleaning pipes.

‘You need to have a vision and to be brave in your choices. I make very careful updates that match the style of the home, as well as the type of buyer it will attract. But we always take a view that, if we don’t sell it, we’d be happy living there.’ 

Here, Deborah shares her renovation tips.

DO YOUR HOMEWORK 

Deborah and Paul Marshall, pictured, made £40,000 on their latest project

‘You may need to sit at your computer for hours researching where you could find things a bit cheaper. Some people can’t be bothered, but this is how I save a lot of money.

‘I’ll happily spend an evening looking for the best deal on kitchen cupboard handles. It may save me just £50. But if I apply this money-saving approach five times during a project then that’s an extra £250 in my pocket.’

DON’T COMPROMISE ON THE KITCHEN 

‘It’s always best to shop around and find a kitchen you really want,’ she says. ‘Never compromise, otherwise you will quickly get fed up with it.

‘Always get a plan drawn up, too. It’s free and it’ll show you how the kitchen will look once completed.

‘Also, never buy a complete kitchen from one supplier, unless you can get it cheaper by buying it as a bundle. I always get the exact kitchen I want, but I almost always leave the handles and the worktops out of the package, as I’ve learnt that I can save hundreds by sourcing these myself.’

STEER CLEAR OF PRICEY STRUCTURAL CHANGES 

‘We try not to touch anything structurally, as it costs money. Plus, it saves the time we would have spent applying for planning permission. If you start knocking things down, or even want to switch out a window, you need to ensure you are doing it within the regulations.

‘If you’re working on your forever home, however, then I would advise making those bigger changes you know will be best for your lifestyle in the long run. Knocking down walls to create modern, open-plan spaces, for instance, is hugely popular, and with good reason.’  

BUY COMPLETE BATHROOM SUITES 

AFTER: A stunning bathroom with subway tiles and a roll-top bath was put in by Deborah and Paul during one of their home renovation projects in Yorkshire 

BEFORE: The bathroom looked dated and needed to be completely reworked. Deborah suggests seeking out bathroom suites instead of buying individual items 


Transformed: One of the bathrooms in one of Deborah and Paul’s renovations before and after work was finished

‘For bathrooms, I like Victorian Plumbing, which sometimes has fantastic deals on complete bathroom suites that include everything except for the pipes. This offers a massive saving compared to buying everything individually.

‘Shop around for tiles, too. We have a few local independent suppliers that are very reasonable. Plus, you can often find slightly different designs in these sorts of stores, which may be just what you’re looking for.’

CHEAPEST ISN’T ALWAYS BEST FOR YOUR BUDGET 

‘Buy the best materials you can afford at the time. We’ve plumped for real oak floors, for instance, at times when we may have been able to get away with laminate. But when you get the best you can afford, it’s likely to last you longer, which is ultimately better value.

‘People appreciate quality, so ensure your upgrades have a good finish. As the saying goes, sometimes you need to spend money to make money.’

LOOK OUT FOR DISCOUNTS 

‘Wickes has a great range of kitchens and if you know someone who is signed up to Wickes TradePro and qualifies for an extra 10% off – my husband is, as he’s in the trade – then you may be able to call in a favour.

‘If you time your purchase when Wickes has one of its 25% sales on, and you’re getting an additional 10% on top, it’ll be worth your while buying all your appliances there at the same time, as you’ll make a significant saving.

‘Sales like that usually last for two weeks so you have plenty of time to research whether you could pick up certain elements, such as the handles, for cheaper elsewhere.

‘Charity shops that exclusively sell furniture are always good for a browse. If you’re patient, there’s always something you will find that you like.

‘When shopping, try to imagine how you want to feel in the space and buy accordingly. Be creative too – you may be able to paint the furniture or adapt a chest of drawers into something else entirely as long as it fits the space you want to fill.’

BE BOLD WITH COLOUR 

Go big or go home! Deborah said there are benefits to a splash of colour: they are more likely to attract buyers looking for listings and bring personality to a home 

Deborah and her husband aim to use contemporary colours that catch people’s eye. 

She said: ‘Painting everything in a neutral shade is getting a bit boring now. I’m currently favouring black and navy blues like Frenchic’s Hornblower.

THREE MORE TIPS TO REMEMBER…  

WATCH OUT FOR INCIDENTAL COSTS

‘If you’re renovating a house that you’re living in, like we do, it’s important to factor in how you will cover any extra expenses, such as food when you don’t have a working kitchen or access to bathroom facilities when you water’s shut off.

‘Thankfully, we have family members nearby who accommodate us when needed. If you’re not so lucky, you may need to factor a few hotel stays into your overall budget.’

LEAVE THE GARDEN ALONE 

‘People underestimate how much gardens cost to upgrade. Try and work with what you’ve got unless it’s an absolute tip.’ 

KEEP AN EMERGENCY CASH POT

‘We’ve started factoring in a contingency pot of money to dip into if needed. When you’re nearly at the end of the project and are really having to crunch down, that little bit extra can come in very handy.’ 

‘Our approach may go against more traditional advice to paint everything magnolia if you want to sell a property quickly but, in my opinion, those types of houses can sit on the market for longer. 

‘People will appreciate it when you put your own stamp on a place and it’s evident that a lot of love has gone into it. Plus, bolder homes stand out more among the listings and buyers are more likely to request a viewing.’ 

COMPARE QUOTES 

‘If the house needs any work done involving the electrics, gas or plumbing, then you’ll need to call in the professionals. We’re lucky, as we know lots of people in the trade. Ask around if you can and see if you can get mates rates through friends of friends.

‘If that’s not an option, make sure you get at least three quotes per job, so you can compare prices and work out what an average cost would be for the work. This will help you to make an informed decision.’

DECORATE FROM THE HOUSE 

‘Decorative accents that make a house look inviting can make a big difference to its perceived value. I always like to hang a large mirror in the hallway, for instance. With this in mind, I have collected lots of antique gold mirrors from flea markets, garage sales, online marketplaces and even rescued them from tips.

‘They’re a win-win for me, as people give them away and you can update them easily by painting the frame. They always look good and bounce the natural light around.’

FURNITURE DOES MATTER

‘When furnishing on a budget, the most important factor is that the items are a great fit for the space. When selling a house, I will often offer to throw in the furniture for the same price I bought it for to sweeten the deal. It represents huge value for the buyer, as their current furniture may not work as well in the space – and the same goes for me if I have to move it all to a new house.’

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