We had another open house for a property yesterday, and it went very well. We had a dozen or so people through the doors, multiple applications for rent—and lots of nice people I enjoyed meeting. This is one of dozens of houses we have prepped, rehabbed, cleaned up, and made awesome just this year.
I am continually learning through trial and error and listening to other investors all the things that cost me money, time, or frustration. I want to find ways to alleviate them.
In previous posts I’ve talked about how we use the same palate for our rental properties. It’s the same colors, the same carpet, the same vinyl flooring. When they are searching for a property to rent, tenants know it’s one of ours when they see pictures of our properties.
There are a few things I think a lot of us go cheaper on that I will NOT being doing anymore.
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This has bitten me more than once this summer. We tried to eek more years out of really old units, and it just hasn’t gone well for me. In one instance, we replaced one property with a used unit that wasn’t very old. I ended up spending nearly half what the new one would have been to replace it, and then it died 2 months later.
Another one had some leaks, so we had to replace the a-coil, etc.
If we are on the fence with putting SOME money into something like this (other than a bit of coolant or a normal service), I will just end up replacing it. It’s not worth my hassle, frustration, or the added cost. I always end up thinking that we should have just done it the “right way” the first time.
2. Faucets and Bath Manifold
We’ve gone through a lot of different kinds of fixtures for the bathtub, the kitchen faucet, and the bathrooms, and there are a lot of brands out there that offer significant (cheap) value. However, after examining the cost of each, how long they last, and how much I pay to fix them—I’ve decided to pretty much only use the basic all metal Delta … they’ve been lasting well, wearing well, and causing no issues so far. They’re worth a few extra bucks on the front end.
It doesn’t mean you need to go crazy either. Just because it’s expensive doesn’t mean it will last. Ask the guys at the local hardware store what they put in their houses or their rentals—or what other investors are buying with good success.
Like with the plumbing fixtures, we’ve also started buying the nicer toilets. Why not spend an extra $50 bucks and get the low flow, simple mechanics of the new toilets?
We have had awesome luck with them in our properties. Tenants love having the nice ones because they use less water and don’t break. I love them because my phone doesn’t ring, and I am not spending money to fix or replace them all the time.
4. Vinyl Flooring
We’ve started using the thicker vinyl for the flooring—and not just the cheapest samples we could get. We do the full pieces, or rolls, as well, instead of the peel and stick. Yes, peel and stick tiles are easy, but I have found they just don’t stay down that well, and we are always going back to fix them.
I do realize that if you get a tear in one of your single tiles, you can just replace them versus having the large piece of vinyl. But I’ve also found I have significantly fewer issues when it is larger, nicer, and thicker material to start with.
The more often we run into the problems or maintenance issues within the units, the more we are moving in the direction of finding, correcting, and fixing the issue prior to having a tenant occupy the property. Once you have a tenant occupying it, everything is more complicated with scheduling the work and can be a nuisance to you and your tenant.
Plenty of times if I would have just completed the work or installed a new item the first time, I would have saved myself the hassle (and the phone call). I know of many investors who do not spend much money on new plumbing lines, or a low flow toilet with the newer flushing system, or whatever the case may be. But in the end, what is the cost of that single maintenance issue with your plumber, handyman, or whoever you have to call? A plumber or electrician may cost you $50-$75 just to show up.
That toilet doesn’t seem so expensive now, does it?
Once again, if you just do the fixes the first time, you will likely save money in the long run instead of trying to limp something along. Plus you control your costs more (knowing what it costs to install new and to maintain it correctly) on the front end of any problem.
Just go through your checklist of items that could cause issue, and especially on the easy and cheaper ones, consider doing them every time in your properties:
- Bathroom(s): Faucet, water lines, and shut off valves
- Manifold for bath/shower
- Kitchen: Water lines, faucet, and shut off valves
- Hot water heater
- Running the main sewer line for tree roots and debris
The time and money spent on the front end will definitely be worth the lack of headache after the tenant is moved in, and you’ll create a more controlled environment over your costs.
What else do you do for your properties to have fewer calls, less maintenance costs, and happier tenants?
Let me know with a comment!