Columbus, OH - renovation suggestions

12 Replies

Hi BP Columbus, OH community. I'm in the process of buying my first duplex in the German Village/Merion Village area (2 blocks south of Schiller) and am looking for any trade secrets people are willing to share, insight, ideas & referrals.

I plan on renting out one side while I live in the other. The side that is getting the upgrades is where I plan on living for about 2 years or until I save up for another down payment. The long term goal is to buy and hold so I'm looking for recommendations that are good for both an owner and future renter.

Looking for help with the following:

1. A good place around town to buy quality (budget friendly) flooring. I'm leaning towards laminate on the first floor but am open to suggestions. Does anyone have experience as to what works best in rentals? I'm interested in understanding what type of flooring people think is best and why.

- For the 2nd & 3rd floor, I'm leaning towards carpet but could potentially refinish the existing wood floors or put laminate in them as well. Does anyone have a recommendation as to why I would go with one option over another? The wood floors are currently not in great condition. Lots of gaps and some cupping is visible.

2. A place to get kitchen cabinets. Not looking for anything custom. Just some decent cabinets that are durable and a look that makes the place feel like home. Would it be a good idea to look at Craig's list and refinish cabinets I can buy on the cheap?

3. Quality interior painters. The house is in need of a full paint job on the inside. It will be completely empty with the floors being replaced so I hope to make this a quick process.

4. Lastly, I'm considering adding a bathroom. With this being said, would turning a unit from a 2bed/1bath to a 2bed/2bath be worth it in the long term? Does it have a big impact on rent or make the rental much more desirable? Any idea what a bathroom addition would cost? The space is roughly 8'x8' Again, would look to install just the basics.

(Note: The main stack goes through the corner of this room which I am guessing would make a bathroom addition much more cost efficient)

Thanks for reading and I look forward to seeing what people have to say.

- Chris

Congrats Chris. That's a great neighborhood and I hope you do very well there.  My initial reaction to you post is that it appears as though your strategy is to put below market finishes into your unit. I'd advise against doing that, for when the time comes to dispose of the property you don't want to have to put more work into it to bring it up to the neighborhood standard. Floors, kitchens, and bathrooms are some of the most important elements in house quality perception. Again this is just my two cents. 

To really answer your questions let us know what your expected rent is going to be. We can better guide you on finishes as the expectations for $1/ft are much different than those at $2/ft. 

1. Lots of folks use America's Floor Source but I've had luck from Floor and Decor. 

2. Think about Ikea. Good cabinets. Good prices. 

3. Can't help you on this one.

4. As you identified, the costs depend largely on your plumbing system in place, ie how much of your existing house do they have to rip up and put back together to run the electrical, plumbing, and venting. Without more context, I'd swag budget it between $10k-$20k. 

Thanks for your response @Jay DeVore

To answer your question, rents for a 2bd/1 bath are in the $1,300-1400 range. Additionally, my particular unit has a bonus room that can be used as an office or if people really wanted to as a 3rd room. The unit is ~1,100sq/ft putting the rent in the range of $1.18-1.27 .

My goal isn't necessarily to put low end finishes. Just want to be smart and run it like a business. Judging by what I see, new floors and an updated kitchen would put this at or above other rentals on the market.

Low maintenance is a priority. I want things done well, fixed right and consistently rented.

At your previous job, was there a metric used that would calculate the increased rent a 2nd bathroom would bring? Is that even a thing?

Thanks again

- Chris

If you have a Menards there its worth a look.  There is alot of difference in cheap cabinets and upgraded to get away from press wood and get real  plywood/wood boxes and drawers.  mostly the drawers.  They have unfinished oak that can be stained or painted

Bamboo floors seem to be popular,looks good and durable

If you already have a tb in the other bath consider a huge walk in shower only in the new bath.  I hear this is a 3 story house???  how much short walls would need removed to replace the obvious metal stack and replace with heavy wall PVC.  From there plumbing upgrdes are easy.  Same way with running pex and taking out metal supply pipes.  IF you go this way take the opportunity to run as many runs of modern 3 wire 12 gauge runs to baths,,at least 2 to 3 runs per bath.  DONT put the lights and outlets on same circuit.  (Invision yourself standing there just out of the shower drying your hair and breaker(or gfi) trips and your standing there without clothes on in the DARK,,,and how you would fix that???)  Besides the bath is required to have GFI anyway.   Run the wire all the way to the box and properly grounded to get you up to code,

If this bath is nice and modern finishes you should be able to increase rents 50 to 100 bucks.  If you dont have nice modern finishes you end up attracting the bottom desirable tenants

If you do most of the wok d-i-y I would think 3-5K for materials will go along way.  All those little things really add up,

I have upgraded lots of baths and never spent over 1500 on any of them,,,but your mileage will vary,,,and new from scratch will add also

Thanks @Don Meinke . Looks like I might be waiting on a bathroom addition for now given the info you and @Jay DeVore provided.

If I could pay someone in the $5-7k range I think it would definitely be worth it. Otherwise, I might be better of putting my money into other upgrades for the time being.

@Chris Schubert , congratulations and welcome to the neighborhood. My family and I live one block south of Schiller and love it (we may end up being close neighbors). The neighbors are great, and there is plenty to do at all hours of they day, but it's a quiet neighborhood. I'm also a REALTOR working in the area and have put my comments to your questions below:

Hi BP Columbus, OH community. I'm in the process of buying my first duplex in the German Village/Merion Village area (2 blocks south of Schiller) and am looking for any trade secrets people are willing to share, insight, ideas & referrals.

I plan on renting out one side while I live in the other. The side that is getting the upgrades is where I plan on living for about 2 years or until I save up for another down payment. The long term goal is to buy and hold so I'm looking for recommendations that are good for both an owner and future renter.

Looking for help with the following:

1. A good place around town to buy quality (budget friendly) flooring. I'm leaning towards laminate on the first floor but am open to suggestions. Does anyone have experience as to what works best in rentals? I'm interested in understanding what type of flooring people think is best and why.

- If you're working with a REALTOR, then you'll be able to get a pretty solid discount through vendor referrals the Board provides. America Floor Source is my go-to.

- For the 2nd & 3rd floor, I'm leaning towards carpet but could potentially refinish the existing wood floors or put laminate in them as well. Does anyone have a recommendation as to why I would go with one option over another? The wood floors are currently not in great condition. Lots of gaps and some cupping is visible.

- If there are hardwoods, don't rip them out!!!! Same goes for any original woodwork or cabinetry. The folks looking to live there and rent from your will be looking for that and likely be find paying a premium for the character.

2. A place to get kitchen cabinets. Not looking for anything custom. Just some decent cabinets that are durable and a look that makes the place feel like home. Would it be a good idea to look at Craig's list and refinish cabinets I can buy on the cheap?

- See #1. Try to keep as much as possible, but if you have to do anything, try to keep the character of the neighborhood homes as much as you can. Your average renter would be looking for granite countertops...etc

3. Quality interior painters. The house is in need of a full paint job on the inside. It will be completely empty with the floors being replaced so I hope to make this a quick process.

- If purchasing via an agent, they should have a list of vendors they've done work with. Angie's list is pretty reputable here in Columbus, too.

4. Lastly, I'm considering adding a bathroom. With this being said, would turning a unit from a 2bed/1bath to a 2bed/2bath be worth it in the long term? Does it have a big impact on rent or make the rental much more desirable? Any idea what a bathroom addition would cost? The space is roughly 8'x8' Again, would look to install just the basics.

- Good rental comps will tell you what to do in that case to ensure you're getting the best ROI. Please be mindful, also that if you're in a historic neighborhood like German Village, you'll likely have to pass any building plans by the neighborhood and city, first, which would mean architectural fees and permit fee.

(Note: The main stack goes through the corner of this room which I am guessing would make a bathroom addition much more cost efficient)

Thanks for reading and I look forward to seeing what people have to say.

- Chris

Originally posted by @Chris Schubert :

Hi BP Columbus, OH community. I'm in the process of buying my first duplex in the German Village/Merion Village area (2 blocks south of Schiller) and am looking for any trade secrets people are willing to share, insight, ideas & referrals.

I plan on renting out one side while I live in the other. The side that is getting the upgrades is where I plan on living for about 2 years or until I save up for another down payment. The long term goal is to buy and hold so I'm looking for recommendations that are good for both an owner and future renter.

Looking for help with the following:

1. A good place around town to buy quality (budget friendly) flooring. I'm leaning towards laminate on the first floor but am open to suggestions. Does anyone have experience as to what works best in rentals? I'm interested in understanding what type of flooring people think is best and why.

- For the 2nd & 3rd floor, I'm leaning towards carpet but could potentially refinish the existing wood floors or put laminate in them as well. Does anyone have a recommendation as to why I would go with one option over another? The wood floors are currently not in great condition. Lots of gaps and some cupping is visible.

2. A place to get kitchen cabinets. Not looking for anything custom. Just some decent cabinets that are durable and a look that makes the place feel like home. Would it be a good idea to look at Craig's list and refinish cabinets I can buy on the cheap?

3. Quality interior painters. The house is in need of a full paint job on the inside. It will be completely empty with the floors being replaced so I hope to make this a quick process.

4. Lastly, I'm considering adding a bathroom. With this being said, would turning a unit from a 2bed/1bath to a 2bed/2bath be worth it in the long term? Does it have a big impact on rent or make the rental much more desirable? Any idea what a bathroom addition would cost? The space is roughly 8'x8' Again, would look to install just the basics.

(Note: The main stack goes through the corner of this room which I am guessing would make a bathroom addition much more cost efficient)

Thanks for reading and I look forward to seeing what people have to say.

- Chris

 Hey Chris, great area there. I have a 1 bed 1 bath and a 1 bed 1.5 bath in German Village and the extra half bath is always desirable. Especially if you can get it on each floor. I can give you a great girl for punch out work that can do almost everything. She refinished all my floors, painted the entire place for cheaper than any other bid I could find here in Columbus. She does rental turnovers and is use to working quickly. She even did some landscaping. There is a great place in Hilliard, I can't think of the name for cabinets. I would redo hardwood. I'm telling you this girl did a really good job and put a new coat of pollyurthaine on it and all i get is compliments. Check out 261 E Blenkner on zillow and you can see some of the work she did. 

Hi @Chris Schubert

Floor and Decor and Americas Floor Source are both great places for a wide selection of flooring at great prices. I'm always leery of putting carpet in rentals at any price. Especially if the 'norm' in the area is hardwood. If the wood is in decent shape, refinish it! Much more durable for rentals than carpet. For cabinets, some good suggestions already made... try to save them if possible (amazing what some repairs and a coat of paint/stain can do). Ikea would be worth checking out. We've used L&E in Hilliard and they have good prices as well. Good luck!

Hi @Chris Schubert , I get all of my laminate and tile from Floor & Decor in Hilliard and my carpet from Rite Rug.  Prices are actually pretty competitive, send me a PM if you want the name and number of my guy.  

About a year ago I turned a closet into a very basic half bath.  I paid a plumber to run the supply lines, drain lines, and connect to the vent stack, and an electrician to add a switch, light box, and gfci box.  Then it's pretty simple from there to throw down some flooring, pop in a vanity and a toilet and you're done.  Altogether labor and materials it cost me under $2500.

For cabinets check out Palmer Donovin in Grove City.

I never paid a painter I was happy with.  Save $2500 and do it yourself if you can, then put that extra money into your kitchen and bathrooms.  

Really appreciate everyone's help. A lot of great insight. One thing that I'm hung up on is if I'm unable to preserve hardwood, the decision between laminate vs vinyl or LVT. Do any of you recommend one over the other?

When you say vinyl, what are you referring to? And what's LVT? 

Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT) is supposedly a high grade vinyl. 

When talking vinyl I want to stay away from the extremely cheap stuff. No peel and stick. I've been considering LVT or vinyl tile as an option.

Originally posted by @Chris Schubert :

Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT) is supposedly a high grade vinyl. 

When talking vinyl I want to stay away from the extremely cheap stuff. No peel and stick. I've been considering LVT or vinyl tile as an option.

 Chris, it's been said many times over here but I really like the Allure flooring from Home Depot. I just got a few hundred square feet for about $2.50 or $3 per foot for a project I'm doing in German Village and we have a guy that does cheap installs and I would recommend that. Not sure what kind of prices you were looking at but this stuff looks really good and almost like hardwood. I've walked into many units with it throughout Columbus and around the ohio state university area and it always looks really good and is very easy to install and replace small sections. I'd recommend getting the click in kind. 

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