Contractor of 25yrs- Happy to answer your questions

11 Replies

Hello BP community! As the title mentions, I’ve been around residential construction for the last 25 years and absolutely love i! I’m also an investor with six buy-and-hold units (and looking for more) in the western suburbs of Chicago, all of which required significant rehab prior to renting them. There’s always tons of questions that come up as a relates to rehab of investment property and I’d be happy to offer my opinions and suggestions as a free resource to help you in any way I can. Fire when ready! :) Bob

@Bob Jaeger how hard is it to find a good contractor in the western suburbs of Chicago? I have been quoted extremely high. Like 30k for paint and flooring for two 1200sq/ft units. Needs a little tin work on the HVAC, some balcony repair. Basic 10x10 kitchen size. Windows I understand. It isn’t down to the studs but it is about everything. 96k was the best price but I know all materials are going to be 35k and that is the premium stuff. 96k was for mid grade.

Let’s clarify a bit-
Flooring- What type are we talking about and how much of it?
Paint- Interior? Walls, ceiling and trim?
Can you clarify the remaining scope of work? Is
Where are you sourcing these contractors? Yelp, Home Advisor, Angie’s list?
Let’s see if we can sort this out.

hey @Bob Jaeger I'm rehabbing a unit the old owner had bandaids.l on things. bathroom window ledge is about 18"wide x 13"deep at the deepest, almost isocelse triangle kind. on the ledge he had put wood covered by drywall. So that's completely rotted out, I want see suggestions for waterproofing the ledge? also the tub surround is wood on 2 sides covered by a plastic insert, is that ok? we tore out the old insert and don't know if I should spring for hardie board or if the wood is ok if it's sealed behind a plastic insert. Thanks.

I’d say 7-9 per unit. This all depends. If you have a listing info I’d be happy to quote you a rough estimate

Hi Donald, I just emailed you. If you’d like to send a few photos I’d be happy to comment on your shower/tub.

Hi Bob - thanks for the kind offer to the community. I'm new to real estate investing and will be buying my first property in Indy. I have read that finding a good contractor is one of the hardest aspect for an out of state buy and hold investor. What would be the top 3 or 5 points I and other new folks should consider when we are looking for/interviewing a contractor?

Thanks for your time. 


@Donald S. A picture of that window would be nice but here's what you can do without me knowing more. Go to your local countertop or cabinet company and ask for remnants of marble/granite/Corian/etc. You can likely get some that small just for asking but for sure less than 50 bucks. Use that for your sill and caulk it well. You could also use tile with a bullnose but not sure how that would look with the plastic wrap. 

On the plywood I would by all means use Hardi Backer or Durock. At the very least some green rock or DenseGlas (the yellow paperless kind). The key is making sure that the subsurface is waterproofed. Not the wrap. Consider the wrap to be cosmetic even though it will shed water. If you do this you will likely never have to revisit this unless it is vandalized. You can water proof it by using the perforated tape and the waterpoofing available at the big box stores. Ask for it in the tile section and they will get you what you need.  

@Donald S. I agree with Mike Reynolds completely.  I avoid keeping windows in the shower whenever possible but I understand that eliminating it is not always an option.  Mechanically speaking, its a water problem waiting to happen as is the case for you now.  What you want to focus on now is putting it back together in the best possible fashion.  Some sort of true water impermeable surface is best here which is why Mike and I both like a solid surface of some sort.  Note that we are not suggesting tile here because the grout joints will be the weak points destine to fail again in the future.  Make a template from cardboard and take that with to a countertop fabricator.  Remember that this piece should be the first thing installed on the wall and all other surfaces installed around it.  Think like a drip and overlap surfaces accordingly always directing water out to the desired location.  Also, make sure you address any water damage to the framing behind the existing drywall.  You cannot put good work over a bad frame and expect it to last.  

@Eric Gyasi Great question.  I always uses online sources like HomeAdvisor, Yelp, Angies List.  There's many others of course but the key to me is being able to see reviews, good and bad, from a solid batch or previous customers.  Knowing the reputation of a contractor before you engage them saves a world of drama.  I don't ask them for references because they may suck 50% of the time but there only going to give you the good ones.  We all want the best price but the vetting process should be the same as it ever was.  Get multiple bids from reputable contractors and make sure you are absolutely clear on the scope of work and timing.  Don't start by having and unrealistic budget and force yourself into working with bad contractors. 

Thanks Bob, I'll look into that. What do you think about one contractors opinion to just frame the window in and be done with it like that? There's no fan in the bathroom so I'd have to install one then. 

The problem with that is your creating a wall assembly that isn’t complete. To be correct the exterior side needs a vapor barrier and should be weather resistant. The existing window does not accomplish these things as it should.

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