Home Renovations can be a daunting prospect regardless of whether you are just diving into the world of fixer-uppers or plan to rehab a rundown old home for personal use.
You should also be aware of permits, demolition, and whether to paint or install flooring or replace windows first. Additionally, you should take precautions against theft, vandalism, and others.
A simple rehab plan of action could be helpful for many new or aspiring real estate investors, as well as homeowners who may not even realize they’re real estate investors yet.
Listed below are several strategies for assessing a property for repair or renovation to living in it, flip it, or rent it.
Make sure the property is secure
Security is the first order of business. That means an installation of new locks throughout the home, as well as paying attention to any other means of entry. Changing the locks by yourself or calling a locksmith is the best way to begin. You may need to board up insecure windows and doors until they are replaced.
Take the time to double-check your home’s security in the event vandalism occurs, such as breaking in and stealing appliances. Get the electricity turned on and leave outdoor lighting on the property (except for replacing dead bulbs for floodlights).
Do you have no exterior lighting? You may want to prioritize this purchase. Also, consider leaving a light on in the interior to give the impression that someone is there.
If you want to prevent bypassers from seeing what you are doing, put up fabric or sheets of butcher paper over the windows.
Thieves will be less likely to steal if the outside world can’t see in. You don’t want brand new light fixtures to disappear.
Collaborating with local authorities
Consider informing the local police of your plans to renovate the property. This will help keep it safe.
When in the neighborhood, ask if police patrols could be on the lookout.
Those who live in the neighborhood will see it as good news that you’re renovating a house nearby and will be happy to keep an eye out for you.
- Develop a plan for remodeling your home.
Before moving into, renting, or selling the property, make a list of the problems, planned renovations, and any other minor jobs that might need to get done before you move in. Then arrange the main systems logically, starting with the roof, electrical, HVAC, and plumbing. Change the floor plan next. (If your floor plan or layout changes will affect major systems, it might be best to make all the changes at once.)
Cosmetic items, such as paint or new lighting, are best done last. Starting your rehab with a well-planned schedule is always a good idea.
It is important to take time to consider the property and what is required.
Write a list for Home Renovations
Here are some items that you need to pay attention to:
- The Mailbox
- Hardscaping and landscaping, including retaining walls
- The Windows
- The roof.
- The chimney
- Reinforcing walls
- Lighting for the exterior
- Decks or patios
- The pool
- The irrigation system
- Gutter systems
- Trim and paint
- The garage door
- The exterior door
- Installing flooring
- The baseboards
- The ceiling
- Lighting for interiors
- Interior doors, including hinges and handles
- Plugs and outlets
- Installing fixtures
- A thermostat
- The curtains
- Kitchen cabinets, appliances, counters, and hardware
- The bathrooms, including sinks and showers.
- Detectors of CO2 and smoke
- A water heater
There may be unnecessary items in this list. Still, make sure you check them all to make sure you don’t miss anything.
Layout and budget are important
Take some time to think about what your plans are. Begin with generalities. Want to move walls? Install a new bathroom? Do you need a new kitchen? Your rehab project will start to take shape as you design it, which will help you establish a budget estimate. A major room remodels, such as a kitchen addition or master bathroom renovation, requires a list of to-dos for each element—and a price estimate for each one. Plan out your strategy while keeping your budget in mind. Hopefully, you’ve already planned out potential costs—but if you haven’t, you’ll need to get quotes on every line item. While you may have to spend more money on a general contractor, it also removes a significant burden from your shoulders if you’re not handy. Be sure to include an extra 10% or 15% in your budget for emergencies and surprises. This will ensure that your entire plan will remain on course even if you discover major issues behind closed walls.
What if I am uncertain of what work is required?
It’s time to call in the pros when you become overwhelmed by the amount of work that needs to be done on a home.
The closing process should have included an inspection, but if not, you may want to arrange one now. By reviewing the inspector’s report, you can determine whether the roof is sound, whether the ceilings and drywall have evidence of mold or moisture, or whether there are any other major problems throughout the house.
Also, you might want to bring in an architect, contractor, engineer, and interior designer. They’ll all be essential partners for your renovation, especially if you plan to remove any existing walls. You won’t be able to DIY such a project — if the wall is load-bearing, you’ll need an engineer’s eye, and you’ll likely need to install heavy beams to make sure the roof doesn’t collapse. To get an apples-to-apples comparison, we suggest getting two contractor quotes for each project on our list.
The first time you flip or renovate, it may be difficult to find a contractor. Keep calling.
A note on windows and doors
It’s important to assess the current condition of all the windows and doors on the property. Ordering replacements can take several weeks to arrive, so get that done right away to keep renovation timelines and budgets on track.
Decide whether a yes, no, and maybe is appropriate
There should be two main factors in the comprehensive bid sheet: the budget and the economics of the deal. Is it more sensible to rent, sell or live in the house yourself? What is more sensible for your neighborhood?
And most importantly, what can you pay for? Mark every item on your to-do list as “no,” “yes,” or “maybe.”
As soon as you’re done with this exercise, you’ll need to add up the bids for the line items where you have put “yes” or “maybe”. If it fits your budget (plus a little margin for surprises) then you’re good to go. If not, it’s time to continue culling.
Clean up debris
It’s important to clean the exterior before you tackle any interior work. Get started by removing loose debris in the yard and around the house and pulling any tall weeds. You’re not doing this to appease your neighbors: you’re also complying with local building codes. The last thing you need is a code violation when you’re learning about the property.
The exterior needs no more work right now. Don’t prioritize landscaping until after you tackle the interior changes.
Now is the time for you to get rid of old cabinetry, furniture, and other items if the house wasn’t empty when you purchased it. Donate them to save money, or toss them.
Demolition can all take place on the same day, but you can’t start until the debris has been removed. Once it’s gone, you’ll know for sure what demolition is required.
Make a plan for junk removal as well. Don’t pile it in the front yard. If the property has a lot of trash and demolition work, then you can rent a roll-off dumpster in the morning and remove it the following day.
Start the interior work.
We recommend starting the interior work first unless there are exterior leaks you need to handle. One good reason: you want to concentrate your budget on the interior first, as this is where people will live.
It’s always a good idea to budget a bit extra for emergencies because you never know what you’ll find in a building until you start the work. Mold, leaking pipes, and rotted framing are all common problems you might face during renovations.
Conduct a contractor meeting
Make sure everyone agrees on the plans before you begin the work. Review your plans, introduce yourself, and exchange phone numbers.
Several of them will be involved in a rehabilitation project closely coordinated with each other. Having a meeting like this will help free you from the middleman role.
Begin the repair work
You will need to hire licensed electricians, plumbers, HVAC contractors, and more to assess the major systems, and make repairs.
Your property might be covered in holes once these systems are fixed and in working order. A leaky pipe can only be replaced by cutting through walls, and exposed studs will likely become visible if you added or removed walls.
You’ll want a good handyman to do sheetrock repairs or prepare the wall for painting if you need to add new drywall – these skills can appear to be simple. Otherwise, you’ll need a good drywaller.
Make sure you’re specific.
Having your contractor know exactly where a stove should be (or where the bathroom should be) is imperative to ensuring the job gets done.
Put everything exactly where you want it. Draw out what you want to scale if possible. It doesn’t have to be fancy; a pencil drawing will often work.
Have a list of tiles, fixtures, carpet, etc.
The more precise you are upfront, the better off you will be in the long run. Plus, there will be fewer errors to correct along the way.
Any renovation—especially if you’re adding or repairing drywall—is incomplete without a fresh coat of paint.
Install sheetrock or render the interior, and then paint the interiors. If you are painting a kitchen or bathroom cabinet, make sure it has been sanded, so it can be painted correctly. Put plastic or painter’s tape on everything you don’t want to be painted. When painting the interior, consider hiring a painting subcontractor. You’ll save time and money that way.
An amateur painter may take longer than expected to complete a DIY paint job.
Flooring should be replaced or repaired
Choose flooring that is cost-effective, durable, and appealing when choosing a new floor in your home or rental.
If you plan to rent out your home, you may want to consider a more durable option, such as refinishing original hardwoods or installing durable laminate. New carpeting always makes a house look nice, but it may not last as long. Consider the current kitchen and bathroom flooring. Does it look dirty and worn? Does there appear to be broken tile? You may want to replace it.
New tile or linoleum always adds to the property’s appeal and will likely increase the value. Getting flooring installed is a DIY task, but bringing in an expert is recommended due to how easy it is to make a flooring mistake.
Take care of exterior needs
After you finish improving the interior, check the exterior. Consider siding, porches, railings, shutters, screens, garage doors, gutters, and garage doors. If the exterior is damaged, consider painting.
The front of the house can be painted only to add curb appeal if the property is part of a rental. You’ll also need to be aware of any hazards that could pose to a potential tenant (i.e. broken handrails, falling retaining walls, etc.). Keep your eyes open for anything that might turn out to be a liability.
Hire a good landscaper to enhance your landscape, with pops of color from the flowers and a clean appearance. Attaching your home’s number to the mailbox will improve its value. Other minor features can also be used to improve your home’s value.
If you can affordably make changes, do so. The mulching will make your property feel like home even if you hire some local high school students for the day. These are simple tasks that will make your home even better.
Follow these steps and you will increase your chances of attracting the best tenants, earning more in sales, or simply loving your home.