Heating System & Renovations

11 Replies

Hey guys!

I just recently closed on my first property! Its a 3bd x 1.5bt single family home in a great town/neighborhood. I am using this as a stepping stone for a live & flip deal. The property is a bit of an antique from 1945 but is not in that bad of shape and has had some recent renovations done in the past (kitchen and main bathroom). I got it for a great deal and there is still some good meat on the bone to really add more value when its time to relist!

Some of the value add projects that I have in mind are expanding the master, adding a master bath/walk in closet and also possibly adding an extra half bath upstairs. The floors need to be replaced and other cosmetic renovations are getting planned with contractors to make it much more modern and appealing.

One of the issues I cant stop thinking about is the damn heating system. The house's main heating comes from oil and it still has those clanky radiators in every room that act as big eyesore (to me at least)! I am a bit nervous that if I go through all of these renovations to make the house look much better & add value the radiators are still going to hold back the value and essentially create a ceiling for profits. I know installing a brand new heating system can be pricey so I'm not sure I can budget that on top of all of the new renovations ATM. Does anyone have any experience in dealing with these in their rehab deals or might be able to share any tips on what to do with these? 

A couple of my concerns are spending $$ to replace them and still having a price ceiling because the age of the house. NOT replacing them and potentially dealing with the same thing with the value after we rehab OR doing all the other renovations first and then having to rip up some of the renovations such as the new flooring after they are done because I dont have a choice in removing the radiators.

Appreciate your responses & anything helps!


Raidators are needed for hydronic heating and steam systems. If its hydronic heating you can replace the freestanding radiators with a baseboard product like slant fin 30. Which would certainly have costs involved but likely cheaper than adding ducts. 

Look at the neighborhood, are all of the houses in the area older and have cast iron rads? If so it probably wouldn't effect the value all that much. The good thing about old cast iron radiators is that they're usually way oversized and the boiler can run a lower water temp and be more efficient. Some people acutally like the looks of them. 

If theres gas available it would probably pay to convert if you plan on living there a long time or if the system there now is very old. It most likely wouldn't pay to convert to forced hot air. I think its one of those things that wouldn't add much value to a property but makes it easier to sell when the heater is new.

What would probably add value is air conditioning. Especially if the rest of the neighborhood doesnt really have any. Could be done with mini-split units. 

Interesting. most of the neighborhood is old and has the same steam based radiator units throughout. I was contemplating switching to baseboard however I am not sure if the cost would make much of a difference in resale value. 

Now I didnt think about Air Conditioning. I live in Massachusetts so the AC is usually only needed for about 4 months out of the year but does that typically add value to the property after weighing out the costs to install mini split units?

Hi Corben, 

I just renovated a home built in 1921 with radiators. I kept the radiators just painted them white to refresh them. Also, there are casing you can buy or build to cover the radiators. Duel purpose, first it covers the radiator to look better and acts as a shelf. On the other hand it is costly to replace them, however the upside they stay hotter longer when the heat shuts off opposed to baseboard. To save space and add eye appeal I replaced the bathroom radiator with baseboard.  

Best of luck. 

Perfect John! Appreciate the response. Im out not too far in your area so if you need a hand with anything I would be more than willing to help out in exchange for some experience! Just starting to get some skin in the game and want to learn as fast as possible.

You can get radiator covers with perforated sheet metal on the front that cover the entire radiator like a box or we had flat metal covers on the top with 1-2 inch sides. I liked the tops for warming towels, or keeping food warm in the kitchen. Painting them is a pain. I assume they are hot water radiators and not steam.  

Baseboard has its disadvantages too because you have to run that radiator basically along the base of the whole wall which moves the furniture out a few inches. Losing radiators is a cosmetic change  People who will buy an old house will and those who won't they just won't, I don't see you losing many buyers over it.  You can go to mini-splits for an addition of course for both AC and heat and that will be seen positively. 

and they block you from putting things against the wall Another thing you can do is if you put an addition use minisplits there for both heat and AC.  They are pricey but if you have to add heat to part of the house. 

I haven't had the tall radiators for a while. We have baseboard radiators. You can get a plastic cover 

@Corben Briggs sorry about those last two lines they are repeats, I couldn't see them.  

It does.   For steam your boiler has to go to a higher temperature then hot water. I am not sure you could do what @John Silva did in his bathroom and replace just one radiator with baseboard, I don't even think there is such a think as baseboard steam. You either need to convert all to hot water baseboard or nothing. Unless you have to replace the boiler I think you might be better off financially just covering them.  You could consider getting rid of them and use electric in locations where they really are in the way but you have to get someone in to re-route. Talk a boiler installer to check out options if you think you need to replace the boiler. Here is some explanation on steam and hot water: http://www.boilersondemand.com...

Not sure if you can remove some radiators in bad locations and replace with another option. Its a piping system so it all goes together in a loop. 


No problem, I fairly new at the investment myself but been around and seen a few things. I'm sure we can learn from each other. 


I had hot water radiators and the section I replaced was in the bathroom a small four foot baseboard the piping was right there. You won't lose heat in a small area plus I installed a heat fan in the ceiling. I agree that painting them are a pain but cheaper than the alternative. 

@John Silva     Whether you can do it depends on the system, I wouldn't be concerned about a small bathroom losing heat and a big bathroom just leave the radiator.    I was just now saying he probably can't do what you did because he has steam radiators.  If you are going to paint them use a spray gun.

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