When landlords get together, they typically trade stories of the worst tenant and/or other landlord horror stories.
Today I am going to walk through 6 strategies that we use when renovating our properties, to avoid some of those horror stories.
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1. Use Standard Materials
This was one of the decisions that we made early in our investing career.
We decided on the paint scheme for our properties (Hilton Head Cream for the walls and High Gloss White for doors/trim). We use the same trim, lights, door handles, etc. in every rental property that we own. The result?
- We never waste materials. Whatever is left over from one property can be used on the next.
- Our properties all look the same. This makes it easy for tenants to look at one property and general know what other properties will look like.
- When purchasing supplies we spend less time trying to make cosmetic decisions since we have our standard list of materials.
2. Tile or Laminate Flooring
I’m amazed when I see landlords putting carpet into their rentals.
Carpet is expensive, difficult to install, gets dirty easily and holds in smells. After purchasing our first rental property which had old/smelly carpet that just would not come clean, we decided to remove all carpet and never install it in a rental.
Instead we now install tile in bathrooms (and sometimes kitchens) and laminate flooring in the remainder of the property. Tile is very durable, easy to clean and looks nice.
Laminate wood floor is cheap, easy to install and is a big selling point for our tenants. Depending on your area you want to use different materials, but avoid carpet and look for low maintenance flooring.
3. Pex Piping
For any new plumbing work, we use Pex piping instead of copper. Below are the benefits that we see.
- Pex comes in red and blue colors (hot and cold). It makes it easy to identify which line you are working with.
- Pex is cheaper, both in terms of material and also in terms of labor costs.
- Pex is flexible.
- Pex is durable and is resistant to extreme temperatures.
- People are not breaking into houses to steal Pex.
4. Metal Roof
We invest in the NorthEast United States, which means that our properties experience all four seasons.
When we need to replace a roof, we go with metal instead of the traditional asphalt. Not only is this a trend in our region (so we fit in), but metal roofing has twice the life of asphalt roofing (at ~50 years).
5. Separate Utilities and/or Install Submeters
The goal of buying and holding properties is to generate a profit.
Every bill, especially variable ones such as utilities, can cut into that profit. As a result, we always split the utilities and have the tenants cover that expense. In our area the landlord must pay the water utilities, so we install water submeters and bill the tenants for their individual water usage.
6. Replace Over Fixing Appliances (Energy Efficient)
If you need a company to come and take a look at an appliance such as a furnace, hot water heater, refrigerator or a stove, they will charge a standard service fee just for making the trip.
This charge can range from $50-$150 depending on the area. And that charge is just for the trip out, not even for the materials or time required to fix the issue. So after a few trips out, the cost of repairing an appliance is more expensive than purchasing a new one.
Therefore an appliances get older or once they experience 2 issues within a short amount of time, we will typically scrap them and install a new appliance. This avoids service calls and usually allows us to upgrade to a more energy efficient appliance.
Landlords… what are your favorite strategies for “tenant-proofing” your properties?
Be sure to leave your comments below!