Landlord’s flooring guide for rehabbing for cash flow
Rehabbing a foreclosure to hold as a rental property, versus selling it to a homeowner, requires a different approach to the rehab than one may be accustomed to. Think durability. Most tenants generally do not care for their homes as well as homeowners. Also, many homes in rental heavy neighborhoods usually wind up having many more live-in boyfriends, girlfriends, and kids than originally accounted for on the lease.
Rehab choices for a rental house should be made with with durability and ease of maintenance in mind. Remember that when you decide to sell your investment property down the line, you will have to clean up after the previous tenants anyway. So at that time, invest the additional $3,000 to $4,000 to spruce up the house to make it look homeowner ready instead of tenant ready.
#1 Rule – Durability and ease of replacement or maintenance
Regular carpet will get trashed – go industrial
Whether the rental property is getting $3,000 per month or $700 per month, nice carpet will be in bad shape even after a relatively good tenant moves out. If your rehab property has old and worn wood floors, refinish and seal the floors. Old wood floors are usually solid oak planks which makes them super durable and will allow you to rent your property in half the time. Otherwise install low pile industrial color (the grayish kind you see in office buildings) carpet with no padding in the bedrooms. If the sub-floor is uneven underneath adding padding may help hide the uneven floor boards depending on the severity. To you and I as homeowners this does not sound too appealing, but from a business perspective this single rehab decision could save the landlord thousands of dollars down the line. The industrial low pile carpet hides stains, shampoos easily, and holds up well to a large amount of abuse and traffic.
Install vinyl on the kitchen and bathroom floors. 18” square heavy duty vinyl tiles work great in these locations. Going with the tiles instead of solid sheet eases installation and future maintenance costs. Ceramic is still a common favorite for many rehabbers but it tends to crack and break over time especially under heavy abuse. Also, if the subfloor isn’t perfect (which many times it isn’t) the ceramic tiles will tend to crack and fall apart at the grout lines much easier. 18″ vinyl tiles can even be installed directly over ceramic tiles as long as the grout lines are brought level with the ceramic tiles before the overlay. Vinyl is the best business decision for maximizing cash flow and minimizing long term maintenance costs.
Here is a great link for the basics on vinyl flooring.
Paint the basement floors
Rehab homes with unfinished basements should have the basements fully cleaned out, sprayed for bugs and have the concrete walls and floors patched in preparation for painting. Use a concrete paint made for basements or exteriors to paint the floors and walls of the basement either gray or brown. Paint the support columns and anything else in your way down there. This clean and fresh look will make the basement more inviting to prospective tenants as many will consider this a bonus space for the kids to play in or for extra living space for adults. Painting the concrete walls and floors in the basement provides a lot of bang for the buck. It provides the perception of the house being larger than it is because of the clean and usable living space created in the basement.
Remember that you will not be the one living in this house, so your personal tastes may not be the same as to what goes into the rehab. The goals are to provide affordable housing to the community while building long term wealth for yourself. The flooring choices listed here are smart business decisions in regards to keeping current rehab costs low and future turnover costs in check.
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