Which renovations are easy DIY for a condo?

9 Replies

Currently, I am looking at condos to buy and renovate while I live there. Most of the places I look at have out-dated kitchens, bathrooms, carpet, and popcorn ceiling. The condos I look at are priced under the market value and I hope to add value to the condo through renovation. But of course, if I spend as much as on the upgrades and as the appreciation, I don't make any money. Which features are easy DIY and which are contractor necessary? Also, I do not have any experience in home improvement, other than having painted a room and torn-up carpeting (aka. not-experienced).

Thanks!

The easiest for you would be demolition and clean out Prepping the areas for a contractor to begin work.painting ,changing switch plates,replacing faucets are also easy fixes Doing landscaping and cleaning out he backyard,mending fences, fixing latches are also easy fixes that will save you money

I am a huge believer in DIY and do much of the work myself. You would be amazed at how different a room looks with a fresh coat of paint.

There are numerous sites online that show how to paint cabinets. Rather than install new ones, you could save a bundle if you are willing to put in the work to paint. There are lots of steps, including degreasing and sanding, but this is very easily something that could be done over the course of a couple of days or weeks. Adding a tile backsplash would be very easy as well, and tiling requires very little specialized tools - a notched trowel, a small bucket to mix the mortar up with, sponges to clean up afterwards. 

My favorite tools are a cordless drill and a compound miter saw. You can do so many things with these two tools.

OK, so to your original question: Which renovations are easy DIY for a condo? In the bedroom(s) you can paint and remove the outdated flooring and replace with laminate which requires almost no tools other than the compound miter saw, which you need to trim pieces at the end of the room. You could also install hardwood, but that requires a special flooring nailer - which could be rented - and an air compressor.

In the bathroom, you could remove linoleum or outdated tile and replace with tile. You need the notched trowel and bucket, plus a level to make sure the floor is straight. Spacers, grout, sealer and you are done. A new vanity (turn off the water to the old one first) is easy to install, although plumbing is my nemesis. I do not have the strength to tighten the fixtures up so they don't leak - but maybe you do or know someone who does? If you have old, ugly shower doors, you can remove and replace with new doors from Home Depot. They have off-the-shelf glass doors that look really amazing, and are unbelievably affordable. You could also skip that whole thing and just put up a curtain. Toilets are heavy, but easy to install if you can lift them or bribe someone else to lift, so go ahead and buy that condo with the pink toilet...

In the kitchen, you have those cabinets. If they are ugly, you can paint them. Paint the walls, replace the floor if necessary. Get new appliances if the current ones are outdated. 

Look for sales during all the Government holidays at the big box stores. I think Labor Day will have some big sales. They usually come with free delivery and haul away of the old. And those big box stores have store credit cards that offer no interest for 6-24 months depending on how much you spend. You can kind of game the system by making the minimum payments and paying it off in full before the end of the promotional period, essentially giving yourself a no-interest loan. But if you don't pay it off before the end of the promo period, you will get dinged for interest on the entire amount for the entire length of the loan, so make sure you pay it off.

Mindy Jensen, Real Estate Agent in CO (#FA100049656)

Thanks Steven and Mindy for the advice. When I actually purchase a place, I will probably have more specific questions, such as which projects to do first. For instance, if you plan on painting the walls and replacing carpet with laminate. Would one be preferable before the other, aka seems like you would rather accidentally spill paint on the old carpet rather than new laminate (so paint before reflooring). Anyways, this inspires confidence that there are things I can do myself. 

Mindy, I just listened to your podcast on live-in flips a couple days ago. It was fantastic! It definitely inspired me to think more DIY whereas before I thought I should hire contractors for everything. Thanks!

Always paint first. The longer you can wait to install flooring the less retouch you'll have to do. Paint is basically colored glue. It can be 80% dry in  24 hrs by the last 20% takes 30 to dry. This is the part that attaches to the drywall because air can't get to it as easily because of the dried paint on top. So naturally it's easier to damage just by rubbing up against it. Just be prepared to do the touch up and protect your floors with drop clothes or plastic floor wrap. Would'nt suggest kraft paper though many use it; it just tears up too easily. 

@Dagart Allison  

I'm looking at a condo 2 bd 2 bath right now. But would like to know what interests you in this choice say to that of a duplex or single family? Cost? Community? I know there are alternative fees that come along with condos. Let me know :)

Originally posted by @Zachary Gwin :

@Dagart Allison 

I'm looking at a condo 2 bd 2 bath right now. But would like to know what interests you in this choice say to that of a duplex or single family? Cost? Community? I know there are alternative fees that come along with condos. Let me know :)

Hi Zach,

I am interested in anything that I want to live in, needs work, and that I can improve upon. My pre-approval is up to $325K for a detached house. In the area I am interested in living, there are very few detached homes at that price.  In fact, I put an offer down on a 3bed, 1bath home for $319K, but was beat out by an all cash offer. That was a house that I was very interested in but also had my limit of what I wanted to spend on it.

In terms of the condo I am currently interested in, it's been on the market for a while and the seller has dropped the price three times. It is about 25K below what other nearby 1bd condos are selling. While I would prefer a house, this condo seems like an easy deal that I can do and turn a profit within 6 months - 1year. This would be my first one and so, it's also nice to know that it's comfortably withing my range of loan payments too. The main thing is I see this as a great way to get my feet wet, then in a year or two I buy the detached unit that I am actually after and I'll have more experience. 

Hopefully, that answers your questions about my mindset.

Originally posted by @Keith Lewis :

Always paint first. The longer you can wait to install flooring the less retouch you'll have to do. Paint is basically colored glue. It can be 80% dry in  24 hrs by the last 20% takes 30 to dry. This is the part that attaches to the drywall because air can't get to it as easily because of the dried paint on top. So naturally it's easier to damage just by rubbing up against it. Just be prepared to do the touch up and protect your floors with drop clothes or plastic floor wrap. Would'nt suggest kraft paper though many use it; it just tears up too easily. 

 Thanks Keith! Good advice!

what skills sets are you comfortable doing? We do almost any project that doesn't require permits. So bathrooms, landscaping, flooring, kitchen, etc

@Dagart Allison , it sounds like you are making offers in a hot market. In my area, I know of three people who have won their house because they wrote a personal note describing themselves to the seller. One friend won it because she included a picture of her dog!

It doesn't take much time to write up a note about yourself, and you can personalize it for each offer you may fairly easily. Give some information about you stressing the positives. Tell them how much you love their property, leaving out the fact that you are going to change everything, and end it by asking them to please consider your offer. It can't hurt anything.

Mindy Jensen, Real Estate Agent in CO (#FA100049656)

Free eBook from BiggerPockets!

Ultimate Beginner's Guide Book Cover

Join BiggerPockets and get The Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Real Estate Investing for FREE - read by more than 100,000 people - AND get exclusive real estate investing tips, tricks and techniques delivered straight to your inbox twice weekly!

  • Actionable advice for getting started,
  • Discover the 10 Most Lucrative Real Estate Niches,
  • Learn how to get started with or without money,
  • Explore Real-Life Strategies for Building Wealth,
  • And a LOT more.

Lock We hate spam just as much as you

Join the Largest Real Estate Investing Community

Basic membership is free, forever.