The original “Flip or Flop” duo is back! Yep, we’re talking about Tarek and Christina El Moussa. Which is downright astonishing, given they’re the midst of a bitter divorce that caused nails-on-a-chalkboard tension throughout their sixth season (whose finale aired in April) and had many of their many fans whispering that this couple would never, ever agree to team up for a seventh.
Yet here they are! Because after all, despite months of stories about affairs, rumors of child custody disputes, and arguments over alimony, the show must go on. In fact, now it’s been over a year since the couple officially separated, they seem to have come to terms with their situation and turned a bit more cordial.
“Honestly, if we didn’t get along, we wouldn’t be doing the show,” Christina told the press, after word came out that they’d signed on with HGTV for two more seasons.
“Now we say, ‘Hi, good morning.’ We film together and talk about houses and the kids,” Tarek agreed. “We’ll be together for the rest of our lives because we have kids. We need to get along for the kids and for our sanity.”
Further proof of the ex-couple’s efforts to shed their previous animosity can be seen in their Season 7 premiere, “A Deceiving Deal,” where they tackle a house that could sour even the most harmonious couple, because it stinks. Literally.
“That’s the worst-smelling house I’ve ever been in in my entire life,” says Christina on the show, wrinkling her nose.
The reason: A rotten turkey carcass has been sitting on the kitchen counter for heaven knows how long (Thanksgiving??!!), and it fills up the whole house with a stench so strong, you can almost smell it through your TV screen. Gross.
Despite the smell, the owner is asking $370,000 for this 1,200-square-foot three-bedroom, two bath in Whittier, CA. Christina is dubious, but since Tarek estimates they can spend $70,000 on the renovation, and with comps in the low $500,000s, they might be able to pull in a decent profit. So Christina makes a leap of faith and trusts his judgment.
Here’s how they join forces for yet another challenging house flip—and the great advice you’ll pick up if you watch them in action in terms of renovations and problem-solving as a team.
Never rush a home inspection
Unfortunately, the house smelled so bad that Christina and Tarek rushed through their initial inspection in an effort to get out quickly, and they missed some serious flaws that would later come back to bite them in the derriere. For instance: A huge crack hiding under a carpet in the garage ends up costing $4,000 to fix. Next, a rainstorm causes the rotting roof to cave in, setting them back another $10,000. Suddenly that funky smell seems like the least of their problems.
Try a pop-out
Of course, Christina and Tarek want to open up the floor plan so the kitchen flows seamlessly into the living room and dining area, but there’s a problem here: The walls that close off the kitchen are load-bearing. Tarek is reluctant to go through the permitting and engineering process, plus the expense, to get rid of the walls, so they devise an excellent work-around: They make a “pop-out,” or opening, in one wall, and put a bar/pass through there, which allows it to do double duty as an island. They also expand the doorway in the other wall, so the kitchen seems more open. The support studs are left in place, but they’re cleverly hidden.
‘Small shower, big impact’
That’s one of Christina’s favorite sayings, and it applies to the second bath in this house, where the shower is little bigger than a phone booth and can’t be relocated. She spends a little extra to put in some gorgeous tile that makes a very elegant statement. It looks great, even if it isn’t spacious.
What to do if the tile doesn’t match
Unfortunately, the marbled tile they selected for the floor isn’t quite as successful. They didn’t notice the brown and purple veins in the sample, and that clashes with the walls. What to do? Tarek estimates that replacing the tile, which has already been laid in both bathrooms and the laundry room, would cost at least $1,000. Painting the walls a more simpatico soft gray, however, would only cost a couple hundred. Guess which option they choose?
How does it end?
To finish this house, Tarek and Christina spend an eye-watering $91,400 on the renovation, mostly to fix problems with the foundation and roof.
Add in staging costs, and they’ve made a $465,000 total investment. They decide to list it at $524,900, which is actually above the comps in the area, but they cross their fingers and hope for the best.
In this case, their decision to take a big, stinking risk pays off. In less than a week, they have multiple offers, which drives the price up to $540,000. Once they pay closing costs, they stand to make a $55,000 profit.
All of which bodes well for this couple continuing their work, separated but together.