Renovating the Rental House
After a weekend in Cleveland, I’m back on the rental house front, getting things ready for my new renter. This will be week three of four living in the house. For background, read My Experience LandLording 101, or I’m Not Donald Trump.
Why is it taking so long?
When we lived here there were a ton of improvements I wanted to make, but never could because of our financial situation. I’m not proud to say we owned the worst looking house on the block. Today, with my business sold and my retirement funded, part of me wants to keep up the house for pride. I want to show the neighbors, “See? I’m not a deadbeat! I CAN improve this house.”
I have to stay away from ”I’m worth it” thoughts with this house. I don’t live here and I have two kids getting ready to go to college in a year. As it is, even though we’re on firmer financial footing than when we lived here, the extensive work has wiped out our reserves (next job: rebuild!). So, I repeat the mantra: “This is a rental. This is a rental.”
Instead, I did two things:
First, I had a realtor come through the house. I told her that I want to get it ready to sell in the future. Because she’s a friend, she agreed to come through, even though she can’t sell it today. We made a list of all the improvements the house needed to get into sellable condition.
Second, I took that list and broke them into three groups. The first were improvements I needed to make just for the renter. This one included:
- New appliances. The current ones were all 8 years or older.
- New roof. My roof has needed to be replaced for about 12 years. I need to get a new one on before mold develops.
- New carpeting. I let my last tenant have her dog in the house. Dog in house = new carpets for the next renter. Lesson learned.
The second is a list of improvements I can make regardless of the renter. These will increase the resale value of the property or make it safer.
- Resurface hardwood floors.
- Try to take paint off the back bedroom floor so we can refinish that.
- Lay bamboo flooring in the breezeway.
Normally I wouldn’t lay expensive hardwood flooring in a rental house. The supplies are left over from my home in Texas when we renovated that house. I couldn’t return the little bit that was left, so we decided to use it in the rental. The amount was almost perfect for the little breezeway entrance.
- Fix electrical issues. The electricity in the place is a disaster, and this is going to be a fire hazard at worst, but is unsellable until I fix it at best.
Finally, there was a list of improvements I’d need to make, but shouldn’t do until the renter moves and I’m ready to actually sell the place:
- Kitchen upgrade. Our house won’t sell with the current kitchen, but it’ll easily rent. I’ll save expensive cabinets and fixtures until renters are gone.
- Landscaping facelift. Everything I plant now could die with the renter because I won’t be around to maintain it. I’ll wait on these.
So, today the hardwood floors are getting done, we’re making the carpet appointment, the roofers are here and we’re washing walls before paint.
What are the most important features in a home to you? Can you think of any improvements I should be hitting but have forgotten?