Rental Property Improvements that make a Difference

Adding a ClosetWhen you have a rental property you are managing yourself, and even more importantly if you are doing the maintenance on them, you need to be efficient.  You need to make some rental property improvements that make a difference!

I have 25 renters to manage, plus a full time job.  I do not have time for wasted efforts.  Here is an improvement that I recently made to make my life easier.  It is also a great improvement for your own home…

Wasting effort on bringing supplies to and from a property takes too much time.  You forget to bring supplies, you leave them behind t be forgotten, you neglect to do things as soon as you can because you do not have the proper tools.  I like to have a few basic items in my properties so that when I notice something is amiss, I can correct it immediately.

In my 4-plexes, there is a section of wasted space under the stairway.  It really isn’t too much space, perhaps an area 38” x 60” deep, with a sloped ceiling.  In most homes, they make closets out of that space.  In my third 4-plex, that closet space was already made by a previous owner, and I realized it was a pretty handy place to use as storage.

Some of my apartments, such as my fourth and fifth 4-plex, have a closet that houses the common area water heater and water meter.  There is a bit of room in there to store a few items.  But in the second and third 4-plex, I needed some additional storage room.

I put in one closet a year or so ago, when I was working on the property remodeling an apartment.  When I have all my tools already there, it is pretty easy.  I generally take over a unit, and create a de-facto workshop in the garage.  I haul in a table saw; free standing miter saw, and I store materials I will be using, etc.  When I remodel an entire 4-plex, that temporary workshop gets to be quite a large one.

So, with all my apartments full, I continually look for efficiency improvements.  This past month, I decided to put in a closet.  It is a bit of a messy job, as you can see by the pictures.

Closet StartSome of the steps were this.

  • Buy the supplies that you need
  • Bring over the proper tools for the job
  • Cut a doorway into the wall to expose the existing studs
  • Clean out all of the construction debris from when they built the building and were too lazy to throw it in the construction dumpster…
  • Put in king studs and a header above the door
  • Install the door
  • Run a wire for the pull chain light switch
  • Cut and install the Sheetrock
  • Tape, mud and sand the joints
  • Paint the closet (with my Sherwin Williams cup gun, yeah!)
  • Clean up everything (yuck)
  • Install the plastic shelving unit.
  • Bring in the supplies!

The total cost of this project is not much.  I am rounding the numbers, and going from memory, but here is a brief summary.

  • 30” six-panel door, $40
  • 3 pieces Sheetrock, $20 total
  • Paint, 1 gallon, $20
  • Shelf unit, $25
  • Miscellaneous materials and supplies $40 (Sheet rock tape and mud, screws and nails, popcorn for ceiling patch, electrical supplies for light, painting tape, etc.)

You always need to have the proper tools for the job.  Some of the tools I used were these

  • Closet and Tools15 amp Makita reciprocating saw (The beast!)
  • 1.5 gallon compressor (very portable and light)
  • Brad Nail gun
  • Finishing nail gun
  • Makita circular saw
  • Ridgid cordless drill
  • Sherwin Williams ProShot sprayer
  • Lots of miscellaneous hand tools

So, for about 20 hours of work, and ~$145 worth of supplies I have a storage area that will save me time.  I will be storing a small step ladder, light bulbs, cleaning materials, cleaning buckets, trash bags, a vacuum cleaner, etc.  I may also store other items on an as needed basis, things like a carpet shampooer.

Do you do your own home or rental maintenance?  If so, what are some of the projects that you have tackled?

6 Replies to “Rental Property Improvements that make a Difference”

  1. Great article! I love all the actual examples and advice you give based on what you are currently doing.

    I have been really fortunate to have people of all trades as close friends. We recently did some remodeling to our rental unit. We completely remodeled the kitchen, replaced all of the flooring in the house and painted the interior/exterior. Due to all of that, we were able to charge about $300 more per month, so we already almost have our money back.

    I will say that we ran into some issues of wanting to do things that didn’t make sense financially. We had to be realistic that it is a rental house, not our home to live in right now.

    1. Thanks for the comment!

      You can save quite a bit of money doing things yourself. This closet saved me $500+, and I will now save time in the future. It may not increase rents, because the closet is in the common area, but if I can keep the area cleaner by having the proper equipment on site, it may make for a better appearance. A better appearance might lead to a higher rent.

  2. Great idea to build some storage for supplies so you don’t have to transport quite as much. In our basement rental I replaced the sink, mirror, toilet, outlets, and some fixtures. Nothing too major but I think my biggest efficiency killer is that none of my tools are organized so I spend half the time looking for the right tools. I haven’t had time to do anything with our garage so I may try to build some sort of work bench and storage. It would be nice to have a system.

    1. It is a lot handier to have the supplies already there. I manage them myself, which puts an extra $20K in my pocket. Not bad for handling a few calls. I do the maintenance too, so that saves even more.

      If I would pay for maintenance, it would take 20% of my cash flow or more.

  3. I just received a flyer in the mail for a duplex up for sale and my first thought was rental income. Then I read your post reminding me of all the work it would take to manage a duplex I quickly squashed that idea. I love all your stories you share. I will definitely remember this if I ever decide to venture into rental properties.

    1. Thank you for the comment!

      Don’t be afraid of the work. A duplex is a great way to get started. Any great deal in RE, will have some work. Either you get paid to do the work, or you pay someone to do it. If you can do the work, you make the best money.

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