Small Rehab Recommendations

6 Replies

Just got a triplex (all 2/1’s) and I want to do some small rehab work to get it rent ready. I’m looking for some recommendations for the rehab.

The walls need to be painted, I figure that’s an easy enough thing to do myself (although I’ve never tried it)

The floors appear to be a light colored hardwood but they seem to have been painted a dark brown. The paint is gone in several places . What’s the best way to make this flooring look new and fresh? Buff them? Repaint them? Throw some carpet down?

Besides that, the cabinets and counter seem a bit older and not very attractive. What’s the best way to make them look fresh and nice? Paint them? Replace countertops? Get new cabinets altogether?


John Paul Williams

REI, Clarksville, TN

@John Williams

I've often heard that painting yourself isnt worth it, but to each his own. I'd suggest new hardware for the cabinets, then paint them. Also change the countertops. Depending on the area you're in can mean no difference or a lot.

I'd try buffing the floors, painting them will work also. That's how one of my places is. You just need a good match.

Wall paint is "easy" but time consuming especially if you have never done it before. Hiring painters can be expensive, so you will have to weigh this in your decision.

Not sure what "buffing" a painted floor with sections of paint missing will do. Do you have a floor buffer? Can you rent one? I always refinish HW floors, which can run $2-3/sf. I would get some pricing on this. Painting them again is an option, as well as carpet (not desired in a rental). You could also put vinyl plank over the wood as lots of rental owners do.

Cabinets and counters all depend on the local comparable rentals and what you have.

Hi John,

The answers to those questions might be neighborhood dependent.

Class, A, B, C and D neighborhoods will have different answers and price points.

Some tenant profiles will expect better and some will expect lower end.

Just my thoughts.

Good Luck!

If you haven't painted before you can make the rooms look worse instead of better.  Hiring painters is expensive but worth it if you don't know what you are doing. What paint should you buy, which finish should you get, etc... Not knowing what you are doing can be more expensive than hiring someone who knows. 

Likewise painting cabinets requires special considerations. Is there grease on the cabinets which will stop the paint from adhering properly. 

Pay attention to what the pros buy and do and next time you could take the route of using your labor to save money.

Please remember that your business is investing not being a contractor. I can tell you from experience that you don't have time to do both. 

I just got finished rehabbing a 2/1 single family and I did all the rehab work you mentioned, so I will speak from my experience. 

Paint - if you have time and can do it on your own, why not? It is definitely not rocket science. It is time consuming, especially painting (3) 2/1s. One option is to enlist the help of some friends/family and buy them lunch in return. If you have the money to hire someone and saving time is more important, then by all means do that.

Floors - If other rentals in the area have hardwood floors, I would pay to have them refinished. This is not something that is worth doing yourself if you have never done it. I had my floors refinished and the dust and fumes are tough to deal with, not to mention learning to operate the sander. If it is good hardwood, it will be durable and it looks great, so I would go with that over carpet. Get a few quotes on refinishing the hardwood vs putting down carpet. 

Cabinets - providing you have decent quality cabinets that can be painted, keep them and paint them. Paint goes a LONG way. New hardware goes a long way too. If you must replace the countertops, depending on the neighborhood again, I would look at new laminate countertops (Formica). If that is what is currently on there, it would be relatively easy to remove and install new, whether you do it yourself or hire someone.

Good luck!

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