Which Updates to make?

5 Replies

My wife and I just bought a 3-family in Marlborough, MA, there is knob and tube all over the place, and we are planning on moving into the first floor. 

We want to update the 2nd and floors, and if we do it could be verrrry costly, possibly 16k for each unit to update electric and plumbing, we do plan on owning this for the long haul. 

What I can't tell is if updating the plumbing and electric now will cut down on future headaches, or will the headaches be caused if we have a few hundred more to pay monthly in loans on the renovations. 

It sounds like you knew about these issues before buying the property? If so, you should have included that in your analysis. If you plan on holding this property for the long term why not just renovate now? 

Also, if you do go forward with the rehab I advise you to read this article by @Brandon Hall :


All the best. 

It doesn't have to be all or nothing. You could tackle it in stages. Try to update the electrical and plumbing on your unit and then the second unit above you. Get that second unit revamped and rented out. When you're financially ready to do so, you can then tackle the third unit. Make sure the contractors your working with know and understand the big picture so they can plan ahead won't have to disturb the tenant later on down the road. I know that many plumbers and electricians will try to pressure you to do everything all at once. This is purely selfish on their part. Best of luck to you.

You need to find yourself a contractor and make friends. You apparently knew about these problems when you purchased the property so did you factor them in and now you are second guessing yourself?

What does your insurance provider say? Knob and tube and other electrical issues are problems for insurers. Get quotes and get electric done as a planned change. If units are vacant do it now. if not stage it for the vacancy. Could be cheaper if you do it all at once though. Plumbing that works fine put off some.

Depending on whether you have plumbing and wiring chases, doing it later can be disruptive to the units below, like cutting out a chunk of wall. I say do it 1st if you can. The 4U I'm currently working on was lucky to provide me with an old dumbwaiter shaft, so I could run a 30A riser for a new kitchen subpanel for each one easily. But the 1st thing I did was run new pex H & C water risers from the basement to each unit, the old ones were 1/2" for all 3 upstairs units and run on the outside of the walls! 

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