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AHHHH! 8 Actionable DIY QuickTips to Save Hundreds on Your Next Nasty Tenant Turnover

by Brandon Turner on January 22, 2014 · 39 comments

  
Tenant Turnover DIY

It smelled like Bigfoot’s cave.

Okay, that’s being generous… it smelled like Bigfoot’s tomb.

Not only was the smell so bad that every dog within a 16 block radius was cowering in fear, but the appearance wasn’t much better. Holes in the wall and doors, destroyed carpet, broken light fixtures, disgusting appliances.

If you’ve been a landlord for any period of time, you probably know exactly what I’m talking about. If not… don’t worry, you will. No matter how well we screen for the perfect tenant (see Tenant Screening: The Ultimate Guide) you may still have a problem. Recently, for me, it was a tenant we “inherited” when we bought the property and were forced to evict.

Perhaps you have a lot of money and can simply hire a contractor to come in and total remodel the place. Maybe you have a property manager who will take care of the problem.

Great!

However, that’s not me (yet) and I often find myself with a hammer and bleach after a nasty tenant turnover. It’s not that I like doing it, but when contractor bids are coming in around $10,000 to get the property turned over, I can’t help but get in there and do what I can to save some money. (I know, I know… a lot of you are cringing at that, saying my time is better spent finding deals. Perhaps that’s a debate for another day…)

Therefore, this article is for the DIY landlords out there, those just starting out, and those who just want to save money and fix problems themselves. The following are 8 tips that I use to get my rental properties fixed up and rented back out quickly. Keep in mind – I’m not saying this is exactly how you should do it, I’m just letting you know how I do it. Perhaps there is a tip or two in here you can use to save a few bucks on your next tenant turnover.

1.) Consider Hiring Out The Worst

Often times, people forget that it doesn’t need to be “all or nothing” when deciding whether to DIY it or hire a contractor to fix a place up.  In the example I gave above with the recent eviction I did, I hired a local handyman to haul out the smell carpet, the tenants junk, and do a quick cleaning of the place before I went in.

Yes, I want to save money, but for under $100, I was able to bypass all the worst parts.

2.) How to Kill Smells

When looking at potential properties, I LOVE a bad smell. Why? Because it drives everyone else away but it’s one of the easiest things to fix. To eliminate most smells:

  1. Get rid of soiled carpet and pad. This is the #1 biggest reason a place smells.
  2. Bleach the floors with 1 cup of bleach per gallon of water.
  3. Let it dry, then paint the floors (as long as they aren’t nice hardwoods) with Kilz Oil Based Primer.  This stuff runs about $12 a gallon but will kill any bad smell on the floor – and it’s easy to do. Just pour small amounts out on the floor and spread it out with a roller on a stick.
  4. Always use a respirator (about $30) when working with oil primer. Seriously – or you’ll pass out. I’m not kidding.

After a couple days, the primer smell will go away, and you’ll be left with a clean, fresh smelling property. If not… check your sewer pipes!

3.) Paint Color

I’ve done a lot of “testing” of paint over the years. As I documented at depth in my post What Is The Best Interior Paint for Landlords and House Flippers? (Hint… It’s Not What You Think)  I primarily use Wal-Mart’s in-house brand “ColorPlace” on all my properties, using the “Country White” color (no, it’s not white… it’s a tan/yellow color) they have pre-mixed. This way, no matter what property I go into to work on, it’s all the same color.  To sum up that article I wrote, I tested almost every paint I could find and determined that every single paint brand required 2 coats (one heavy, one light.) The best paint usually covered 90% well on the first coat, but still required a second. The cheapest paint, however, covered about 60% but still required a second coat.  So… if all paint required 2 coats…and it all looked the exact same once finished… I’m going to go with the cheapest – ColorPlace. Besides, having it pre-mixed on the shelf at WalMart is awesome.

I also use Semi-Gloss on all properties. Some people say it doesn’t look the best – but I think it looks amazing and have yet to hear a tenant complain otherwise. Instead, I am constantly encouraged by those looking at my properties at how beautiful it looks.

One more tip that Darren Sager advised on the BiggerPockets Podcast a few months back… always write the paint brand and color on the lease. This way, both the tenant and you will know exactly what was used, leading to less confusion. Smart.

4.) Patching Holes

I will never understand why tenants punch holes in the wall. To me, that just seems so painful. However, I see it all the time – a fist-sized hole at chest level. So irritating.

Learning to do drywall repair is a sort of “art” but it’s not really that complicated. Today, there are several tools that can make the process much easier. However, rather than trying to explain it in writing, here’s a quick video on YouTube I found that will show you how to do it:


Another hole that really annoys me (and happens often) is when a tenant punches a hollow-core door in one of the bedrooms (again… don’t ask me why. They just do this.) If the door is paintable, the hole can be sometimes be patched the same way as in the above video, but many times the hole is too large or the surface too smooth for the drywall mud to adhere properly. Instead, I usually do one of two things:

  1. Get a new door (if it’s a standard size, you can often pick it up just the door slab for under $30 at Home Depot or Lowes)
  2. Put a mirror on the door. Yes, I’m serious. I learned this trick a few years ago and it has saved me a lot of time and money. Simply pick up one of those cheap, full length mirrors they sell for under $10 at a lot of stores (like this one at Target for $5.99) and screw it to the door. Not only does it cover the hole, it also makes your hallway look larger and decorates the unit a bit for under $10 and 10 minutes of work.

5.) Mold: Calm Down, People

If you live in an area where moisture is often present (like the Pacific Northwest, where I live) you are likely going to deal with mold and mildew often. Contrary to popular opinion, mold does not kill you and it’s much more common than you’d think – and it’s very easy to treat when it’s not completely overgrown. Mold is generally the fault of the tenant, who has their furniture pushed too close to the wall or doesn’t ever allow for air movement in their home. It tends to grow near windows (because of condensation) and in bathrooms.

Mold RemoveTo clean mold, there are a lot of different products, but I’m a big fan of the 32 oz. Mold and Mildew Stain Remover made by ZEP and available at Home Depot. The stuff costs $2.47 and works like a charm. It’s amazing what a roll of paper towels and a $2.47 bottle of this chemical can do.

(Keep in mind, if you’ve got a major mold problem, you may need to call in the professionals. I’m not talking about black grass growing across the ceiling. I’m talking about the small spores that develop on the window ledges and corners in the shower. Don’t freak out, just clean it and move on.)

6.) Door Knobs

You should be changing out the locks every time a tenant moves. After all, you don’t want to be responsible if a disgruntled tenant comes back to their old home and steals all the new tenant’s stuff. However, lock changes don’t need to be expensive. In fact, if you have multiple units – it doesn’t have to cost much at all.

I always save my locks/keys and keep them well organized and labeled. This way, I just rotate my lock sets around to different properties when I need some changed. Just be sure to keep track of what properties a certain lock has been on so you don’t put it on the same property again.

One final tip on locks: by buying the same brand for all your properties, you can avoid having to change out the “guts” of the lock, and simple replace the knobs with two simple screws. This can save you half the time of replacing the locks. Myself – I use “KwikSet” brand locks from Home Depot on all my properties, which run about $20 bucks for deadbolt and door knob set.

Some landlords like using the KwikSet “SmartKey” locks, which allow you to re-key the lock whenever you like. For me, however, I kept loosing the tiny little tool they give you to re-key the lock, so I ended up switching back to just rotating my cheaper lock sets. It was just easier in my opinion, and the SmartKey locks start around $50.

7.) Flooring

Perhaps the most expensive fix when turning over a property is the flooring. You have a few choices, and it’s hard to say for sure which is the best, but here are my thoughts:

  1. Carpet: Carpet feels nice, looks nice, and is quick to put down. Installing carpet is typically not a DIY job (though, it’s easier than you think.) However, even though I know how to do my own carpet, I usually don’t. Instead, I usually use Home Depot to get my carpet installed. Home Depot (and Lowes) usually have $97 whole house install on their carpet, which is a great deal. I usually order one of the carpet styles that they sell in the store, on the rack. My favorite color is called “Fireworks” and it sells for under $1 per square foot ($9 per square yard.) This dark, speckled color hides stains well and can handle traffic exceptionally well. I have it in most of my apartment units, and it looks great in all of them – even those that have been in for several years.  Home Depot and Lowes both carry some really cheap carpet for under $.70 a square foot – but I’d recommend avoiding this. You’ll rip it out next year.  Instead, look for darker colors, thick carpet, and carpet that is “FHA Approved” – which means it should hold up just fine for what you need it for.    In order to get the $97 instal at Home Depot, you will need to buy the pad and carpet from Home Depot as well, so assume about $.40 per square foot for the pad (they have contractor grade pad for about $.25 a square foot, but it doesn’t count toward the $97 install. Instead, go with the 6lb pad for around $.40 a square foot.  For 1000 square foot apartment, you’ll be looking at $1,400 worth of materials, $97 for install, and then tax. I usually assume about $1.50 per square foot for installed carpet from Home Depot.
  2. Laminate: Laminate flooring is great. It looks and feels like wood, but it’s a composite material made of saw dust and other odd materials. It also can withstand a lot of traffic, dings, and dents without getting ruined – so although it’s more expensive than carpet, it can last a lot longer (and easier to clean between tenants.) Laminate prices can run anywhere from $1 a square foot to $5 a square foot (including pad), but I usually use the Harmonics brand laminate from Costco which runs $2.30 a square foot and has the pad attached. I really think the Costco Harmonics stuff is the best laminate flooring I’ve ever seen. It may take a little bit of work to learn, but installing laminate is a DIY job if you want to do it (I usually do it myself.)  If not, you could likely find installers for around $1 – $2 per square foot  if possible. Home Depot and Lowes usually also charge around $400 for a whole-house install, so be sure to check into that also if you plan to hire it out. 
  3. Tile – The grand-daddy of flooring, tile is perhaps the most cost effective flooring you can do because it lasts SO long (like, forever.) However, it can be spendy to get it installed if you use a professional tile layer. Luckily, tile floor is fairly easy to learn to put down if you have the time and patience to do it. Tile prices are all over the board, but for a lower-end rental, you can easily find tile for under $1 per square foot from any large home 

 

8.) Mini Blinds

Another inexpensive way to make your rental properties look great is using mini blinds. These come in either white or tan and you can pick them up for around $5 each from Home Depot (these are the ones I use), Lowes, or even Wal Mart. I like to replace the blinds often, as they are cheap way to make a unit look incredible (and it’s often faster to replace than clean.) They take just a couple minutes to install and will help your unit look more like a home when showing prospective tenants.

A quick tip about saving money on mini blinds: if you have a larger window, you can save 50% by purchasing 2 smaller blinds rather than one large one. For example, a 70 inch mini blind at Home Depot will cost you $20, but you can get two 35 inch blinds for just $5 each. When installing a few dozen, this can quickly add up to a lot of savings.Plus, the end result looks just as good, and gives the tenant some more flexibility for letting light in.

Conclusion

Alright, enough for now. I could probably go on and on for days, but these are just a sample of some quick tips you can use to save money on your next tenant turnover.

As I said at the beginning, yes – you could hire this all out. However, if you are just getting started or want to save some cash, doing your own work and being smart about the repairs can save you a lot of money that you can use to buy more property (or take a nice vacation!)

So next time you walk into Bigfoot’s tomb after a tenant vacates, keep calm, make a plan, and re-visit this list to tackle the turnover with the least money out-of-pocket.

Do you have any more quick tips you can add to the list? Or do you have any questions/comments on the tips above? Please – leave your comments below and let’s talk about it!

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{ 39 comments… read them below or add one }

Amy Arata January 22, 2014 at 2:02 pm

I thought I was the only one who inherited this type of tenant! I’ve found #1 especially useful. Much more productive that sitting in your car crying on the steering wheel (yes, I’ve done this. Ain’t landlording glamorous?)

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Brandon Turner January 22, 2014 at 2:42 pm

Lol I’m sure I’ve done the same. And yes, some tenants are just evil :)

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Larry Brown January 22, 2014 at 2:33 pm

How often do you wind up replacing the miniblinds and do you have much luck getting the tenant to pay for them when you replace them (i.e., by taking it out of the security deposit)? I have often found that miniblinds need to be replaced whenever I have a tenant move out and quite often the cost of the new miniblinds come out of my pocket (for example, if the tenant stiffs me on the last months rent by saying “use the security deposit as last month’s rent” even when this is prohibited by the rental agreement).

Have you used the Allure vinyl plank flooring that Home Depot sells? It gets a lot of positive reviews on one of the landlord sites I visit frequently and is very easy to install.

Thanks for the tips on paint selection and getting rid of smells. I do a lot of the apartment rehabs myself since I am not actively looking for new deals (I have enough for now) and prefer to save some $$ on the rehab work.

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Brandon Turner January 22, 2014 at 2:41 pm

Hey Larry,

Yeah, I usually get the tenant to pay for the blinds, but every once in a while I get the same problem with “use my security deposit for my last month.” I tell them I can’t, threaten with an eviction… but in the end, I usually cave to save the $900 eviction cost.

As for the Allure – YES, I love the stuff. I forgot to mention it :) It’s a little spendy, but it’s wonderful in kitchens, living rooms, etc. It lasts forever and really holds up well – and is easy to install.

Best of luck!

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Mike July 10, 2014 at 11:18 am

What is your take on whether to do carpet or Allure? I have heard some saying the larger up front investment of Allure is worth it because you don’t have to do it again and it doesn’t need cleaned and that they use it everywhere (including basements and bedrooms), but I charge the tenants for carpet cleaning so I don’t think cleaning cost is an issue. Overall cost is and as mentioned the Allure is more expensive initially but last longer, but it seems that over the long haul you might be looking at the same overall price.

So do you Allure everywhere but the bedrooms and carpet there? What do you use on stairs? I heard you cannot Allure or laminate stairs, but carpet wears out quickly on stairs and is expensive to clean. What to do there?

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Sharon Tzib January 23, 2014 at 9:26 am

One trick you could start implementing, Larry, is to make the security deposit an amount that is more than the rent. For instance, if the rent is $750, the security deposit is $900.

This does two things. First, psychologically, it can prevent the tenants from thinking of the security deposit like rent. Even tho the lease says you can’t use S/D for last’s month rent, if the amounts are the same, they will equate them as one.

Second, if they still go ahead and do it, you can use the surplus for little things, like blinds.

Now, if you’re lucky enough to invest in a state that allows first, last and security, this isn’t an issue, but I’m not sure how many of those states are left, and finding tenant’s who can afford that at move in is pretty challenging as well.

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Brett Shepherd January 26, 2014 at 10:54 am

Thats a great suggestion Sharon. Thanks!

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Michael Sadler January 22, 2014 at 2:46 pm

Some sellers are afraid to post pictures of their property because it needs some rehab before it can be rented out.

Brandon, this makes for a great guide on how to spruce up the place on a budget!

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Brandon Turner January 22, 2014 at 3:32 pm

Thanks Michael!

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Sharon Tzib January 23, 2014 at 9:27 am

This is why it’s good to take pictures of your units once they are rent ready, and then you can use it the next time around, so if the unit needs rehab, you still have acceptable pics to market with.

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Steve January 22, 2014 at 4:33 pm

I love the double down idea on the blinds. Great way to save that money and really add the versatility a tenant may want when it comes to lighting.

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Andy Teasley January 22, 2014 at 7:30 pm

Plus the shorter ones don’t break as fast

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James Pratt January 22, 2014 at 4:35 pm

Hey Brandon, we do pretty much the same thing. I use Awesome for cleaning and mold- $1.00, oil base paint IS the only way to go. Vinegar takes care of most smells and spiders. When a tenant moves out I replace the front and back door knobs with the same (number) door knobs- one key. My wife makes the curtains for each place, they last about 2-3 times longer for a few dollars more.

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Dawn Anastasi January 22, 2014 at 5:44 pm

I’m also a big fan/advocate of curtains. I put them up using a 97-cent rod and get the curtains from Goodwill. I tell the tenants they can use the curtains if they want, but if they put up their own, to please give the curtains back to me. Which I can then use at another property.

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James Pratt January 22, 2014 at 8:19 pm

What we do is use shower rings and 1 1/2″ wooden rods, easy to open/close.

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Ben January 25, 2014 at 8:57 am

I like the curtain idea, Dawn. I’d been doing the same as Brandon – going to HD for the $8 mini blinds. Do you get any feedback from tenants or prospects about it? I’m always happy for any small amenity which makes me stand out against other properties!

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Kimberly H. January 22, 2014 at 5:33 pm

Great list! Thanks for the tips…just closed on two new rentals this month and am just starting the rehabs so I will definitely keep this in mind!

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Steve Babiak January 22, 2014 at 7:22 pm

I repair hollow core doors differently from the way that the drywall patch is done.

I cut a piece of plywood to size so that it will fit through the diagonal of the hole in the door, yet be wide enough and long enough to cover the hole. Put glue on the perimeter of the plywood patch, and insert it inside the door. The patch gets held in place with a piece of one-by using a drywall screw through center of the one-by and through the center of the patch; so the patch is on the inside and the one-by stays on the outside of the hollow core door. Let glue dry, and then remove screw and one-by. Next fill the hole with sandable wood filler; I have used the water putty shown in this link with good results:

http://waterputty.com/about_water-putty/

Sand and finish with paint. The repaired area is not raised using this method – that is what makes it hard to discover the repair afterward.

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Andy Teasley January 22, 2014 at 7:26 pm

Here is a “quick tip” for anyone who plans to own a rental for over 4 tenant changes. I don’t know about where you are but where I am I have to pay at least $1 a sq ft for new carpet. Since I am strictly a buy and hold investor and expect to screw the IRS out of my appreciation by dying and having my daughter get the adjusted basis. I always install tile wall to wall and around toilets, shower surronds and often every surface of a bathroom but the cieling. The only time I don’t use tile is when the floor isn’t on a slab and then I use laminate wood flooring. Since I am tight with a buck I have come up with an inexpensive way to tile my units that also makes repairs easy. First I go out to my local tile dealers (not the big box guys) and I talk to the manager, I tell them I will pay 30 cents a foot for all the odd lot tiles they have, even samples. I just ask them to fill a pallet with all their leftovers and whatever they are tired of tripping over. Usually they say “we don’t have anything like that” or “I can’t sell anything that cheap” and I ask them if we can stroll through their warehouse/yard. Once i’m in the warehouse I look for dusty pallets with small quantities of tile and various boxes mixed together, I point to them and say “what’s that” I have rarely not been able to buy at my price and have had to make multiple trips for many pallets of their “junk”.
Now this is the trick, when I get the tile back to my place I have a laborer or two sort the tiles by size only assorted colors are great with me and broken tiles go in their own pile. Then I check out what sizes are the smallest quantity along with the broken tiles and I have my laborer cut these tiles into two sizes I use 6X6 tiles and I use 3″ tile base in all my units so he cuts the tiles to make 6X6′s and cuts the remaining pieces into 3″ strips.
When I do a tile job I have my installer choose from the larger quantity tile sizes and let me know how many of that size I need for the job. Then if I’m a few tiles short we just cut down a large size that is small quantity.
Trick 2 I always install my tile using the “French’ pattern, which is where you use two distinctly different sizes of tile (In So Cal. you will find it in most Lowe’s restrooms, in fact we used to call it ‘lowes bathroom’ style before my installer told me his name for it). We use a large size, any one will work, and 6X6. We really want an assortment of colors and patterns to help with trick 3.
Trick 3. Anyone who buys used houses has had to deal with the challenge of trying to match a tile that came with the house and it is almost impossible to do, the new tile always looks odd right? Well, since we use an assortment of tiles through out the floor, we don’t even try to match the tile, just cut something the right size and tada!
Trick 4. Same problem on a tile surround in a bath. As a landlord it always amazes me that they can knock tiles of a bathroom wall, but they often do. So even when I am tiling a surround with all identical tiles I have my guy install 4 or 5% different odd tiles randomly around the wall, that way the replacement tiles dont look out of place.

Finally, why is this good for a 4 tenant plus owner? Well $.30 for tile, $.50 for labor and fuel to prepare the tile, $2.75 for install, grout and thinset equals $3.55 a foot for permanent flooring.
4X$1.00=$4.00 for 4 carpet changeouts.

Anyone who can’t figure out the patern is welcome to email me and I’ll send you a picture.

Andy Teasley PS sorry for the length

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Geoff January 24, 2014 at 12:37 am
chuck wilson January 22, 2014 at 7:45 pm

I have been a landlord for many years. I have found recycled paint at the county landfill that is free!! You can buy tints at the local paint store to change color. Its a neutral grey color that can be lightened up for interiors. The quality of the paint is good. If you are running it through an airless paint gun, strain it through a nylon panty a couple of times. We used it on exterior of some apartment buildings over the summer and it looks great. Also here in Oregon they sell recycled paint in some hardware stores. Metro is the brand here in Oregon. You can buy it for around $12 per gallon which is a good deal. As you know anything to save on turnover costs is good.

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Sanclare January 23, 2014 at 11:01 am

I have to try this where I live. Usually what I do is go on a scavenger hunt in early summer for all mistint and oops paint, paying an average of $5/gallon. Its amazing that if you mix enough of these, it ends up looking brown. I mix in a huge trash can about 20gallons at a time. Then i just pour them back into cans and use them at all my properties. I have started to use darken paints because if the walls are light, kids are more apt to write on them.

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R Jenkins January 22, 2014 at 8:17 pm

Anyone have suggestions for counter tops?

I’m currently looking at one for a client that has stains, it’s outdated,

under mount sink, cabinets, and faucet seems okay.

I love the stickers on the kitchen cabinets.

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James Pratt January 22, 2014 at 8:29 pm

You can go to where they cut granite and get odd cut pieces for less than half the cost. Or you can put high quality Formica over it.

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Andy Teasley January 23, 2014 at 8:19 am

All of my units use the same Formica style countertop. Then style we use is Amber Milano, or something like that. Home Depot used to carry it but then they switched to the new style with the extra thick front and back that my plumber hates. Thankfully Lowes has started carrying it now. It is a nice “granite looking” black, brown, tan, pumkin blend that looks great with Maple kitchens as well as white and Walnut. Easy to install and replace when necessary as well as fairly hard to hurt, in fact I don’t think I have had a tenant hurt one yet (knock wood) End splashes and caps are easy to install, although we use gorrilla glue instead of the iron on glue that comes with the kit.

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Jason Merchey January 23, 2014 at 7:21 am

Man, you always turn out great posts.

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Sharon Tzib January 23, 2014 at 9:33 am

OMG! So many insanely good ideas, Brandon!! The mirror over the hole on the door idea is genius!! I have a rental that is going to definitely need carpet the next time it goes vacant – I just can’t put if off any longer. I’m so grateful for the Home Depot tip – I had no idea. Thanks for all this. Bookmarking this post!

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Alan Mackenthun January 23, 2014 at 5:58 pm

Baking soda is great for minor smells. If the carpet doesn’t need to be replaced, clean it as best you can then sprinkle baking soda over it liberally. Sweep it around a bit to work it in. Give it a few days if possible, then vacuum.

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Alan Mackenthun January 23, 2014 at 6:03 pm

Also Lime Away or similar is great for hard water deposit stains. If sinks, counters, or fixtures don’t sparkle after 1st cleaning, spray a little on, give it a few minutes, wipe it off and rinse thoroughly. It’s amazing how much better things can look very quickly.

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Wes Eaves January 23, 2014 at 8:59 pm

I’ve used KwikSet “SmartKey” locks for a few years and they are great!

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R Jenkins January 24, 2014 at 12:20 am

Nice tips for counter tops
Thank You

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Geoff January 24, 2014 at 12:31 am

All of these ideas are great

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djopgenort January 24, 2014 at 1:23 am

When you work with the Kilz-on-the-floor deal roller have at least two pairs of flip-flops or slip-on shoes to save tracking paint smudges onto the unpainted areas.
Agree – Kilz is GREAT for sealing floors. I did come across a hot-water soluable wax that did an AMAZING job of sealing a concrete floor with cat pee. It came in a shavings/chip form that smelt vaguely of ammonia, which I simply mixed with hot water and just rollered on.
I’d tried everything before that (bleach, hydrogen peroxide, baking soda paste, bioenzymes, etc). Didn’t try Kilz, because I wasn’t sure how concrete would act (might hold moisture). In retrospect I should have just done the Kilz right off. I wonder how the water-based does with stuff like dog pee?

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Tara Garcia January 24, 2014 at 6:13 pm

For hardwood floors worth preserving, I have used gymthane (gym floor traffic polyurithane) so that it can take a LOT of traffic and resist spills etc – same as school gyms that are also cafeterias. Do it once and forever (hopefully).

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Don Daniels January 25, 2014 at 2:35 pm

Very nice article. The thought of DIY can seem overwhelming for the unpracticed; you’ve make it seem much more approachable and price worth. Thanks!

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Cory Binsfield January 26, 2014 at 6:48 am

Great tips everybody. I’m in the Brandon camp where I don’t mind getting down and dirty on a turnover versus simply outsourcing it. Frankly, you are always there managing the contractors so you might as well chip in and do your part to save money.

I’m using a shellac based primer for urine and heavy duty smoke or nicotine issues. It’s spendy but seems to work better on sealing toxic smells.

By the way, a turnover is a great time to add a “wow” factor. Yes, it sucks to see your nice rental trashed. However, there is always something you can add to make it better, faster, stronger-Ha!

My favorite projects are painting, blinds bathroom and door hardware.

Quick tips for painting.

1) I’ve gone from cheap 3/8 nap rollers to high end 3/4 nap rollers from Purdy. I learned this trick from a college pro painter franchisee. The heavy roller cover holds more paint and allows “almost” a single coat job on walls. I rehab old buildings with a mix of plaster and sheetrock and the heavy duty rollers save me a ton of time.
2) Buy a high quality 3″ width angled soft brush to cut in the walls and trim. I’ve had professional painters watch me use this brush that is normally for exterior work and the next day they own one. Make sure the brush is not too stiff. I find the stiffer brushes are better for precise edging work and clean lines so you don’t have to use painters tape.
3) Ultimate time saver is a 18″ adjustable roller cage. I use this to fly through walls and ceilings. Yes, you pay more for tool and roller cover, but if you take care of both you end up saving more money in the long run. I wrap my roller covers in plastic shopping bags when I leave the job and come back the next day and they are still wet. This saves ya a ton of time cleaning. Don’t do this with your expensive brushes. I always clean them thoroughly since a good brush can last you years.
4) I used to buy paint from the big box store. Unfortunately, they switched their stock color that I used for all my units. After that, I swore I would never use them again. I use the local Benjamin Moore dealer. It’s a family business and they treat me like a rock star. I call in what I need a hour or two beforehand and they have all my paint ready to go. Plus, they record all my properties and paint jobs for me by location. Yes, I pay more for the paint but the quality of the paint is amazing-it seems to hold up better than other paints. Since I own multiple units they give me the contractor discount.

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Sharon Vornholt January 26, 2014 at 12:32 pm

Brandon -

That’s a great list. It’s always about having good systems and procedures isn’t it? I would add that there is a product called “Nilium” that is great for removing odors. It has many uses, but one that I love is to put a little directly into your can of paint. It gets rid of all kinds of nasty odors with out additional priming.

Sharon

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Sergio January 26, 2014 at 9:15 pm

Great tips

Thanks a lot Brandon

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Flint February 24, 2014 at 6:54 am

Brandon, Great article. Don’t apologize for saving money. Sometimes it can be the only way to MAKE money as a landlord. I have a few hints….

Locks: I buy my Kwikset locks from Home Depot. They have a package of two knobs and two deadbolts, all keyed-alike, for about $35.00. I master them so I only need one key to get in all my properties. Home Depot or a locksmith can do it, also. I think it’s worth it. I bought the Keying Kit No. 272. It was about $100.00 when I got it. I also bought a key puncher to make my own keys. Like others, I have extra locks so I only need a screw driver to change-out locks during turn-over. Just keep track of the key codes.

Miniblinds: I get these from Home Depot, like you. They have a nice selection of widths, and are a breeze to replace. Just pull the tabs, pull out the old one, slip in the new one, and put the tabs back in. I install them ‘inside’ the window trim so you can see the trim. In case I can’t get the proper length, I just shorten them with a power miter box (chop saw).

Closets: When I couldn’t find a cheap way to replace over-size closet doors, I installed a closet rod in the opening, with cheap panel drapes that have loops at the top. Much easier than dealing with bi-fold doors.

Speaking of Bi-fold doors: I recently found a way to repair loose pins at the top of bi-fold doors. There is a pin mounted to a metal plate. It mounts to the top of the door with four screws instead of being pushed into a hole that becomes elongated. Lowe’s has them, but I think just discontinued them.

Door bumpers: Okay, it took me way too long, but I finally stopped using baseboard-mounted door stops. I started buying the round plastic discs that stick to the wall to cover door knob holes.

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