One of the people who can be said to be responsible for the popularity of flipping houses is Bob Vila. As host of "This Old House" and later "Home Again," Vila taught thousands of people the art and craft of home improvement and restoration. These are the same skills that many "weekend warriors" have turned into a business and lifestyle through house flipping.
Not only did Vila's "home improvement" show give rise to a popular sitcom of the same name, it also has been multiplied many times over on various cable television networks. Some of these programs specifically center on projects where a house is bought, renovated, then resold – the classic model for house flipping.
Although there are many examples of house flipping that do not include extensive renovations, the practice of buying a house specifically to fix up and resell has grown tremendously in popularity since "This Old House" first appeared on public television. In fact, there are people who make their living by buying, fixing, and selling houses. It is through their use of "sweat equity" that they are able to increase the value of the house and realize a greater profit by selling it than they would normally.
This means there is not a tangible measure of the profit to be made from flipping renovated houses. One couple who spent several years flipping houses after renovating them estimated that they made about $5 an hour for all the time and work they put into the efforts. Of course, that does not include the satisfaction they got out of being their own boss, being able to spend time together, or the included cost of their living expenses in the resale price.
The ability to make a profit using sweat equity to improve a house's value for flipping depends on the home improvement skills possessed by the buyers. The popularity of "do-it-yourself" programs and the shift from hardware stores to "home improvement centers" makes it much easier to get the tools and expertise to do the work, but it does not help with the needed skills.
Carpentry is one thing, but plumbing is another. When the needed repairs outstrip a house flipper's ability to do the work, outside help is needed. Hiring an electrical contractor to replace faulty wiring can be expensive and can often cut into the profit to be had through the flip. Therefore, it is important for the renovating flippers to be comfortable with being able to do the work themselves and to choose the right house on which to work.