Essential Renovations for Any Rental Property Investment

Tales of rental renovation projects tripling in cost are enough to give any real estate investor night sweats. Most often, these stories come from an inability to understand the problem. Truly essential renovations for a rental property differ from the ones we’ll make when dealing with a fix-and-flip. When renovating for a rental, we’ll want to move away from wow-factor and instead increase the property’s efficiency and livability.

A good guideline? Renovate to the standard of the neighborhood. Do nearby rentals have fresh paint, minimal landscaping and Corian countertops? Then that’s the zone we’ll want to hit when making renovations. Use the tips below to get the most mileage from your rental renovation budget.

Clean Before You Renovate

Save money on rental renovations by zeroing in on what’s actually essential. New carpet may look great, but a professional cleaning can make existing carpet look surprisingly good. A Magic Eraser can work wonders on marred walls. A pressure washer can give a house more curb appeal or make a backyard deck or patio look new again. The goal is to make the property inviting and livable. To do that, save money where you can and focus spending where it matters most.

Bathroom & Kitchen Are Crucial

For a rental, the bathroom and the kitchen are essential renovation hotspots. Tenants pay close attention to the condition of these areas because they know they’ll spend a lot of time there. Kitchen and bathroom renovations also add the most value to a property for the money.

For kitchens, focus on countertops, light fixtures, and cabinets. Corian and quartz work great for rental renovations because they’re durable, inexpensive, and create a sense of luxury. Replace old, worn out appliances with newer, more energy-efficient models to save money. Target outdated or unattractive light fixtures. Consider painting or refacing cabinet fronts as a real budget booster.

For bathrooms, replace toilets that look old, stained, or that run too frequently. Update old light fixtures and think about adding a high-end showerhead as an attractive but not-too costly perk. Renovate cabinets by re-facing, not replacing. Consider new, more maintenance-friendly floors like porcelain, ceramic, or stone.

Other Rental Renovation Essentials

While bathrooms and kitchens provide the most bang-for-buck in rental renovation situations, don’t miss these other semi-essentials below.

  • Livability musts include a dry roof, dry basement, intact gutters and downspouts, and a working furnace.
  • Neighborhood essentials. Depending on location, this might mean a comparable number of bedrooms and bathrooms, A/C, or even a swimming pool. At the very least, age-of-paint and quality of landscaping should match the neighborhood.
  • Livability perks. Tenants look for details in a rental that will make their time there comfortable and practical. This means energy-efficient appliances, clean, dry storage space, storm windows, and small comforts like microwaves or ceiling fans. Focus on these perks during renovations to get quicker, longer-lasting rentals.
  • Renovation checklist. Between rentals, make a checklist of essentials to revisit every five years, including door handles, lighting, cabinet hardware, mini blinds, toilets, and faucets.
  • Layout renovations. Rental owners with higher budgets can consider layout changes, like opening up the floor plan to let in more light. For a cheaper alternative, widen doorways between living rooms and kitchens.
  • Floors. If the carpets can’t be brought back by professional cleaning, consider replacing them or switching to inexpensive options like laminate or salvaged wood.
  • Accessibility. Can the elderly or those with disabilities access your rental, including the kitchen and the bathroom? Wider doorways, ramps, and balance bars can add value to a property. Even lighting, gentle floor transitions, and single-handle faucets can make a rentals easier to access and therefore more attractive.
  • Renovate with maintenance in mind. Choose materials and designs for your rental renovation that lend themselves to future maintenance. Pick materials that are durable, easy-to-clean, and easy to replace if something goes wrong. Then build a list of trustworthy contractors to keep your property in good repair.