Closed Second Deal!! Which Project to Start With?

4 Replies

I am closing on and moving into my second property today! I have a lot of ideas of what I would like to do to add value, but not sure where the best place is to start.  I am experienced with renovation and I am planning to take on many of the projects myself over the next 6-9 months as I do not have the capital to pay a contractor.  

Some details about the house:

- 3 Bed/2 Bath located in Old Town Scottsdale, AZ

- Tile flooring throughout entirety of house

- New roof installed within last 8 years (passed inspection so not planning to fix yet)

- Carport in large driveway that covers about 20'x20'

- Backyard space that has old brick/uneven rocks and ugly railroad tie rock gardens

- Kitchen (with no oven) that will need a remodel

- Single pane windows throughout entirety of house.  Weird size (~2' H x 4' W) and large floor to ceiling windows (two 3 foot tall windows on top of each other) with sliding glass door on the whole 25' wall to backyard 

Below are the projects I would like to get done in the current order I plan to do them.  Looking for any insights on what to add/change!

1. Paint exterior of home

2. Clean up/change landscaping

3. Build studio apartment under carport (allowing time for permit to be approved)

4. Renovate main bathroom

5. Renovate Kitchen (need help with design ideas)

6. Change windows to R5 energy efficient (Will need for AC costs around April timeframe in 5 months)

7. Change flooring from tile to laminate flooring throughout house

8. Update laundry room (currently open door through the kitchen that is poorly spaced out)

I know it is tough to comment without seeing the property but I would love any and all insights about what order makes the most sense.  Any insights are more than welcome!

First off, congratulation @Pete Winslow ! Sounds like you are on the right track to a successful REI career. This project sounds like you have a lot of major or whole home projects which can make things difficult while living in the dwelling. Be sure to allow time in your schedule for moving all of your items around the home while doing the floors and when renovating the kitchen.

The only thing I would do differently has to do with the studio apartment under the car port. I would move that project to the first or last item on your to-do list. If you move it to first, then you can live in the apartment while you renovate the house. If last, which would be my suggestion, it allows for any budget issues or market issues to play out. Finish 1 project before moving onto a second. 

I also suggest you build a detailed schedule and budget for the project. Start by putting estimated time frame and cost to each of the already listed projects. Then, build a schedule with actual dates, milestones and be sure to add in extra days to allow for unforeseen issues which arise. After you have the budget and schedule together, you'll have a more clear picture on the projects you want to take on and when to take them on.

PM me with any specific questions! Good luck!

Congrats on the property! That's awesome. Without seeing the property, my first instinct would be moving the first 2 items to last. The house work is your risk in the project (time, property alterations, money). 

-Time: you may find the house work takes way longer than expected and if you schedule runs over time, you can outsource the outside painting and landscape pretty easily if needed. 

-Property alterations: if you need to remove/ move walls, change the window sizes since they are weird, or something else.. that can affect the outside of the house. So paint work you would have done first now needs to be redone along with siding modification. 

-Money: unexpected costs can eat up the budget so if the house work costs more than expected and you need to reduce costs somehow.. then reducing landscape costs for example may be better for you than something inside the house.

.... But you may be trying to do the outside work before winter so that may change things!

@Pete Winslow Congratulations on your second acquisition! If your are wanting to know what people are buying or renting in Old Town, depending on your exit strategy, a great place to start is the sold comps. Looking at the photos to check on the finishes and features that are getting top dollar (again for either strategy) will provide you a Look Book that could inspire you.

As a money-saving idea, visit Stardust Building Materials, which is like a Goodwill version of Home Depot. Contractors and homeowners often donate their oversupplies, or things they've had removed for their own remodels. Sometimes these are like-new items. Sometimes they are truly "vintage", so you never know what you'll find.

Can't wait to see your before and after photos on BiggerPockets!


Welcome to Arizona! I also made the move from the Philadelphia area. You've already gotten some great suggestions but I'd add the following:

It looks like you have a lot of cabinets -- are any of them salvageable/paintable to save on the cost of new cabs? If not, IKEA has great pricing if you've got the time and patience to assemble. Check out scratch & dent yards for quartz/granite countertops. I personally have never purchased retail stone and have gotten some really nice slabs. Scratch and dent/store model appliances can also be a great option, and I've always found the best retail prices at Spencer's. 

I'd also recommend sticking with modern-looking pea gravel and not being tempted by grass in the backyard. You can make some really nice landscaping designs with pavers, a DIY built-in firepit, and desert plants (check out the Plant Stand of Arizona and keep an eye on their Instagram for landscaping specials). Painting your block wall can make a big impact if you're spraying your exterior as well. 

Welcome, and good luck!