This Guy Transformed a Dirt Cheap Apartment into an Airbnb Gem

There are so many of us who are only too happy to spend a Sunday afternoon lazily watching a marathon of Flip This House on HGTV. But have you ever thought, how hard could it be to actually buy a house and renovate for a profit? Well, reddit user, Drisco, not only considered it, he followed through.

A DIY renovation can create an unbelievable return on investment. The original duplex apartment cost $160,000. The cost of the DIY reno was $40,000. Final appraisal of the finished home? $300,000 Airbnb gem. By investing $200,000, he got a sure $100,000 profit, before he began even using the finished apartment’s money making potential!

How did he do it? Here’s the breakdown on how he got from Point A to Point Amazing. The transformation is incredible!

44. One Man’s Trash is Another Man’s Treasure, Literally


When Drisco bought the property for 160k, he wasn’t just getting a fixer-upper. The place had been thoroughly trashed by its previous owners, and before he could go from a disgraceful dump to high-class retreat, he needed to take out the trash.

43. Half a Ton of Trash, Actually

Even after selling what was salvageable, there was still massive amounts of furniture broken beyond repair, building materials that couldn’t be used, and all sorts of other flotsam and debris. All told, the total haul of trash came in at 1,000 pounds.

42. More Junk

This was the sorry state of things throughout the house. While DIY real estate renovations can let you reap astronomical returns while keeping costs low, it’s vital to make a thorough budget beforehand. You won’t see a dime until all of the work is completed, and you want to make sure that you have enough funds to get there.

41. The Before Shot of the Bathroom

You’d think that in an apartment that had been thoroughly trashed, the bathroom would provide the most unpleasant “before shot.” While hardly inviting, this was far from the room in the worst shape. That honor goes to the room pictured in the next slide.

40. The Upstairs Master Bedroom, Looking Less Than Habitable

What could be so bad about the master bedroom? Dirty diapers left under the bed is an unpleasant place to start! All of these photos were of the duplex’s upstairs. Luckily, the downstairs was left in good shape. 

39. Getting Started

Downstairs, there was no trash to take out, but there was carpets, all of which were pulled up and hauled out.

38. Carpets Gone

Baseboards were taken out too. This would facilitate new ones to create modern, airy look achieved in the big reveal.

37. A New Coat of Paint

Also contributing to that modern look: painting all the walls a flat white. While that choice might make it a bit harder to clean the walls, it does create a more light-filled room, even when there is only one small window. Another advantage of flat white paint?

36. Creating Space with Paint

If a room is smaller or oddly shaped, the flat white color choice creates the feeling of a larger, open space. But there’s one trick that’s sure to increase open space and create a great sense of flow…

35. Creating Space for Real

Yes, taking down a wall is a pretty surefire way to add open space to an apartment. Why create the feeling when you can make more space a reality. The section of grey floor is where the wall used to be.

34. Now it Looks Like a Real Renovation

Knocking down a wall is also a great way to get the place looking like a proper construction site. For a first time DIYer it’s the perfect time to take a moment and revel in the joys of making a huge mess in order to get the job done.

33. Gather Materials

DIY will help you to keep costs low, but you still need to buy lots of stuff. After spending the money it’s fun to see a huge pile of materials with which you’re going to create an incredible space.

32. Just Plug it In

Going DIY while attempting to maximize savings means that assembly is required for just about everything. Everything except appliances. Enjoy being able to take something out of the box that’s fully assembled.

31. Good Budgeting Isn’t Just About Cutting Costs

It’s great to cut costs, but just as important is deciding where it’s best to spend extra—it can end up saving (or even making you more) money in the long run.

30. Sometimes a Splurge Can Save You Money

Drisco decided to shell out for the underlay, choosing the much more expensive brand, Acoustik.

29. Never Underestimate the Value of a Good Night’s Sleep

By paying more for the flooring materials, he was investing in a way to reduce noise between the floors. His Airbnb guests will appreciate being able to get a sound night of sleep, and will leave a positive review that reflects that. And positive reviews mean more guests, which mean more money. But when you’re DIY, you don’t just have to decide where you want to spend money.

28. DIY Means Your Investing Your Time in Addition to Money

You also have to decide where you want to invest your time. In order to install the specialized flooring, Drisco had to tuck tape the gaps to create the tightest seal for the greatest sound proofing, and he also had to cut up door frames to make sure there was plenty of space for the flooring. Each individual job has choices that will cost money and save money.

27. It’s the Little Things that Can Add Up to Big Savings

In installing the flooring, Drisco chose a small brick pattern. The oddly shaped room, meant that this pattern would create less waste, as he was able to use cut off ends from one side to begin the other side.

26. Bedroom Post-Renovation, Pre-Decoration

Without giving a spoiler alert for the big reveal at the end, here’s the finished bedroom. What was a small room with dark carpet and a tiny window now is light-filled and airy.

25. One Down, A Lot to Go!

Renovating an entire apartment is a massive amount of work. It can feel never ending, when as soon as you finish with one room, you have so many left to begin on!

24. It Might Seem Endless

That’s why it’s so important to take a moment to appreciate when you have finished one project. Here’s the second completed bedroom, ready for furniture and decorating…

23. But Every Project Completed Brings You Closer to the End Goal

As soon as the rest of the apartment is completed!

22. With DIY It’s Best to Leave Perfectionism at the Door

When the going gets tough, sometimes the tough have to wing it. Using the small brick pattern in the two bedrooms was a great way to save on flooring by minimizing waste, but it made it complicated when it was time to transition from the living room to the finished bedrooms. Rather than splitting hairs trying to solve the puzzle, Drisco just went with a white transitional piece for the entryway. Problem solved.

21. Wise DIY Advice

Here’s another mantra to have a successful DIY experience: Pick your battles.

20. If You Can’t Change It, Spruce It Up

Drisco was not a fan of the kitchen’s cabinets or its layout. But both were usable. Rather than reinvent the wheel, he made due with a new coat of paint to freshen the cabinets and instead of redoing the layout…

19. New Floors Can Create the Illusion of a New Room

He put down all new flooring to create a new kitchen.

18. Mystery Focal Point Goes Here

This also let him make space to add in a special piece which would tie the entire living space together. You’ll have to wait to see the finished room to find out what it is.

17.The Bathroom

Another key place to choose your battles wisely is the bathroom.

16. It’s the Easiest Room to Blow Through Your Budget

There’s no room where it’s easier to find your budget ends up flushed down the drain.

15. Invest Time Over Money

The key to a successful bathroom DIY reno is to choose improvements you can make using elbow grease, instead of with fancy (and expensive fixtures).

14. Just Like Floors, New Tile Is an Affordable Way to Bring New Life to an Old Room

New tile is one of the best ways to do this.

13. But It’s Not Always Easy

But remember, it definitely takes some real elbow grease.

12. YouTube Was Never So Useful

And it’s vital you do it right, so you don’t end up with leaks and water damage. Drisco had no experience but made lot of use of the internet (as well as FaceTime calls with his dad) to get the job done like a pro.

11. Mistakes Are Part of the Learning Process

When you’re making your plan, it’s imperative to budget it in both more money and time than you’ll think you’ll need to allow for mistakes. When you’re a beginner you’re not always going to make the right decisions. But sometimes you find yourself pleasantly surprised.

10. You’ll Have Doubts

Drisco started off making a tongue and groove accent wall with stained planks of wood, and quickly came to regret it when he realized the massive amount of time it took, not to mention money, as each wall cost $300.

9. But Perseverance…

But he persevered, and when they were finished they looked so good…

8. Often Pays Off

He realized it was time and money well spent.

7. Ready for the Reveal?

Here’s the last “before photo.” Just a clean up and a couple of finishing touches and we’re ready for the big reveal.

6. The Living Room!

It’s hard to believe this is the same address as where Drisco started!

5. The Living Area

Aren’t open floor plans the best!

4. The Kitchen

The special addition to tie the entire living area together? A bar!

3. Bedroom One

That accent wall was definitely worth $300 and a few hours labor!

2. Bedroom Two

Could this room be any more inviting and zen? Certainly a huge change from dingy carpets!

1. The Bathroom

Last, but certainly not least! Can you believe the difference that tiling can make?

Thanks for enjoying the article! If you want to try some DIY projects of your own you can now access over 16,000 woodworking plans. Ted’s Woodworking plans have step-by-step instructions, photos and diagrams to make every project laughably easy. Watch this video to gain full access.

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