Renovating a rental property is not something you want to do often. When you undertake to make improvements to an investment property, the first thing you want to ensure is that you are not spending too much money. As a landlord, every penny you put into a rental should be justified by the property’s ability to pay back the investment in the shortest time.
Secondly, you only want to make changes that will improve the property’s appearance and function. Good renovation projects should make your rental more attractive to prospective renters or improve an aspect of the home’s usage. Rental property renovations that let you improve function and aesthetics at once are clearly more beneficial.
The final thing you want when renovating a rental is durability. The longevity of all new materials or features matters. This should be in terms of the life expectancy of the materials and how dateless the features are style-wise. Materials and features that do not need to be replaced after a short time produce the best returns.
Based on these factors – affordability, improved aesthetics/function, durability, and timelessness – how should you approach the renovation of your rental property? What are the areas of the home that, if you focused on them, will drastically reduce the number of repairs you have to do in the future? This post will answer those questions.
Renovate a rental to minimize future repairs
The way to reduce future repairs on a rental is to rehabilitate its main systems and major mechanical features. This means putting your money into improving the roof, windows, plumbing, electrical, furnace, and water heater. If these features are in good order, you have a home that is fully functional.
Focusing on these parts of the building will save you from doing major repairs in the home for the next 10-15 years. Here is how to do it.
1. Start by replacing the roof
A new roof costs a lot and is not something landlords want to spend money on. But a good roof protects other structures of the home; it makes no sense to make improvements elsewhere if a leaky roof will damage them. If the roof needs to be replaced, you should not overlook or postpone it. If the property is in a state where you are allowed to put an overlay on the old roof, use this cheaper option.
2. Replace windows, if necessary
Windows make a huge difference to the appearance and energy costs of the rental. If the windows are doing their job perfectly, there is no need to touch them. If they still work but look old, all they need is a facelift. But, if the windows are bad, it’s best to replace them with new vinyl windows. They are expensive options, but they will also leave you with the least future problems. If the windows are stuck or you notice gaps around windows frames, it’s best to call professional foundation inspectors because the problem might be in the home’s foundation and not the windows.
3. Update the home’s electrical systems
Electrical systems don’t get any attention because tenants typically don’t factor them in before renting a house. But if you want your rental to give you minimal trouble in the future, you should remove the old knob-and-tube wiring. To bring the system up to code, you may go with a 100-amp electrical panel but installing a 200-amp electrical panel ensures you won’t have to do this again in at least 20 years.
4. Install PEX plumbing
If the house has old, galvanized plumbing, you want to replace it. If it has PVC piping, some will say you should leave them in place. But this is not a good idea if your goal is to reduce future repairs. The best plumbing for the home is PEX plumbing. They are flexible and you can snake them through the house. More importantly, they are less likely to burst when the water in them freezes, because they expand.
5. Upgrade to durable flooring
Depending on the type of rental property, the best flooring options are hardwood, porcelain tiles, luxury vinyl, and laminate. For upscale rentals, hardwood is usually the best choice. But most rental homes will benefit from hardwood flooring in the dining area. The appropriate flooring for any part of the home depends on the amount of traffic and level of moisture exposure.
6. Add new water heater and furnace
The reason to add these new features is to take advantage of the 10-15 years manufacturer’s warranty on the equipment. The cost of buying a new water hear and the furnace is minimal compared to how much you could spend on fixing old ones over a 10-year period. You can easily save yourself the expense and effort by spending some money upfront to get a new heater and furnace.
Overall, this is the best way to eliminate expensive repairs from a rental property. With this method, you only have to do small fixes that are unavoidable when you have tenants coming and going from a rental. Your repairs will be limited to routine expenses like new paint jobs, carpet replacement, and drywall touchups. By the time the main systems and mechanicals start needing repairs, the home would have paid for itself many times over.