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5 DIY Project Ideas to Improve the Value of Rental Properties

532 views January 11, 2024 Karina Jugo 1

Contrary to what some may think, it is easy to improve the value of rental properties with a DIY project. And while it is an upfront investment you may hate to part with, the higher monthly rent and asset value of the home makes it a worthwhile investment—if you choose suitable projects.

To ensure you don’t invest your valuable time and money in things with a low rate of return, here are the DIY projects that get the most out of your rental properties.

PROJECT #1: Open up the rooms.

If you’ve ever watched those remodel shows on HGTVyou know that one of the most common tasks is to open up space. Sometimes this means knocking down non-structural walls. It can also mean taking out the kitchen island or built-in bookshelves.

Fifty years ago, people liked having lots of small rooms. The living room, sitting room, and dining room would each be walled off. You didn’t see many lofts, as every inch of space upstairs was used for either a bedroom or bathroom. These days, our tastes and needs have changed. For example, tenants want open spaces and are willing to pay more for them! Check out most newer homes, and you’ll see this trend isn’t going away anytime soon.

Removing division walls can have a transformative effect on aesthetics, creating a more open and visually appealing living space. This modern design approach, often referred to as an “open concept,” offers several benefits that contribute to an enhanced aesthetic appeal. These include increased natural light, improved sightlines, and visual continuity.

Open layouts also provide more flexibility in furniture arrangement and decor. Tenants can easily personalize the space to their preferences, as there are no restrictive walls dictating where furniture must be placed. Open layouts also afford a better view of decorative elements, artwork, and other design elements that might have been hidden or partially obscured by walls.

PROJECT #2: Boost curb appeal with landscaping.

First impressions matter, and a beautifully landscaped front yard immediately creates curb appeal. Even if the inside of the house is immaculate, an unkempt or crowded yard isn’t something they want to see. Transforming the outdoor space of a rental property through strategic landscaping can significantly enhance its value and desirability. A well-executed landscaping project offers numerous benefits that attract both tenants and potential buyers, making it a wise investment for property owners.

A manicured lawn, vibrant flowerbeds, and well-placed shrubs create an inviting atmosphere that draws in potential tenants. Aesthetically pleasing outdoor spaces often lead to increased tenant satisfaction and longer occupancy rates, boosting the property’s overall profitability.

Beyond aesthetics, landscaping can also provide functional advantages. Thoughtfully designed outdoor areas can offer spaces for relaxation, entertaining, and recreation, thereby expanding the usable square footage of the property. Patios, decks, or well-lit pathways enhance the property’s livability and attractiveness, making it stand out in a competitive rental market.

Moreover, landscaping contributes to a healthier environment. Strategically planted trees and shrubs provide shade, reducing energy costs for both the landlord and tenants. Properly designed landscapes also manage water runoff, preventing erosion and potentially lowering maintenance expenses.

The good thing is that improving landscaping isn’t very difficult. It’s probably the easiest thing to do yourself, plus it has a high rate of return. Some experts will tell you the ROI can exceed 400%! Not bad—especially if it lets you charge higher monthly rent.

In essence, investing in landscaping for a rental property is an investment in its overall attractiveness, functionality, and long-term financial prospects. The upfront costs are outweighed by the potential for increased rental income, tenant satisfaction, and property value appreciation.

PROJECT #3: Install new floors.

Let’s face it, floors take a beating. Whether you have kids or pets, your floors are likely much dirtier than you think! Elevate your rental property’s value with the impactful upgrade of new flooring.

Modern and attractive floors not only enhance the visual appeal but also offer practical benefits that resonate with potential tenants. Installing new hardwood, laminate, or tile floors can instantly refresh living spaces, adding a touch of elegance and sophistication. Updated flooring also signifies a commitment to quality, assuring tenants of a well-maintained and comfortable living environment. Durable materials ensure longevity, reducing maintenance costs and attracting long-term renters.

Additionally, new floors provide a blank canvas for personalization, accommodating various design preferences. By investing in this renovation, you’re not only boosting your rental property’s value but also positioning it as a sought-after residence that offers both style and practicality, appealing to tenants who appreciate the allure of a well-appointed space.

Installing new flooring doesn’t have to be expensive, but it can make a huge difference. The ROI for new floors is usually at least 50%, if not over 100%. In addition, tenants feel better seeing new floors, knowing there’s no hidden dirt, grime, hair, or other nastiness stuck in the carpet!

And speaking of carpets, installing new floors allows you to get rid of carpet—at least some of it. The carpeting is excellent for wrestling with kids and pets, but most people prefer hardwood these days. Hardwood (or laminate) floors are easier to clean and are considered a luxury commodity compared to carpets. Plus, it’s very easy to install hardwood yourself. Most models easily click or slide into place, with no glue required.

You’re also at an advantage because most landlord horror stories involve carpets. So by removing that element altogether (at least in most of the home), you’ll save yourself a lot of headaches!

PROJECT #4: Update the bath.

Updating a bathroom is almost universally agreed upon as a great way to increase home value. It only takes a little to overhaul a bathroom—$500 might be all you need. But that $500 can make it feel completely different, meaning more money in your pocket from tenants.

diy project modern bath

Most projects in the bathroom are relatively straightforward, too. For example, cleaning grout, removing rust stains, installing a fan or a new shower head, and buying a new toilet seat can go a long way. Upgrading fixtures, tiles, and vanities can also revitalize the space, leaving a lasting impression on tenants.

A freshly renovated bathroom offers a sense of luxury and convenience, enticing prospective renters seeking contemporary living spaces. Modern faucets, energy-efficient lighting, and sleek design elements not only enhance functionality but also contribute to a more appealing aesthetic. By investing in a bathroom makeover, you not only increase the rental property’s value but also attract discerning tenants willing to pay a premium for a well-designed and up-to-date living environment.

PROJECT #5: Paint!

Everyone has different tastes. Unfortunately, your tenants may have very different tastes than you or whoever owned the home before you bought it.

But instead of just waiting for “the right tenant,” it makes more sense to do some painting. Neutral colors always work well, especially off-white. A light brown or dark grey hue may be used, but remember, they’ll make the room feel darker, which most tenants don’t like.

The same goes for that hot pink room that used to belong to a little girl or the dinosaur wallpaper in the boys’ room. A little paint and sweat equity put into painting the walls and ceilings will improve the home value and increase the rent from tenants.

Unleash the transformative power of color with a fresh coat of paint that breathes new life into your rental property. A well-chosen palette can instantly uplift the ambiance, making the space more inviting and visually appealing to potential tenants.

A clean and modern color scheme can create an illusion of larger, brighter rooms, enhancing the property’s overall aesthetic and leaving a lasting impression. Beyond the aesthetic boost, a freshly painted interior signifies meticulous upkeep and attention to detail, instilling tenant confidence in the property’s care. Additionally, modern, neutral tones provide a versatile backdrop for diverse furnishings, enabling tenants to easily personalize their living space.

By investing in a paint refresh, you’re not only increasing your rental property’s value but also ensuring it stands out in a competitive market, attracting discerning renters seeking a polished and well-maintained home.

DIY Project Tips to Keep in Mind

Repairs, upgrades, and renovations are most cost-effective if you do them yourself. That is particularly true for first-time investors or those who own just one or two rental properties. Here are a few tips that will help with DIY projects for your rental properties.

⇒ Quality beats quantity.

When you need specific tools for a DIY project, don’t go with the cheapest you can find. A quality tool is one thing where it makes sense to pay a little more for something that lasts. Assuming you’ll take on similar projects with other properties, it only makes sense to invest in something you can use repeatedly.

⇒ Renovate between tenants.

Renovating a home while tenants are living there is a lose-lose situation. First, tenants get frustrated because you’re invading their privacy and causing a nuisance. Even if they aren’t home while you’re doing the work, they probably aren’t happy with the fact you’re there.

Plus, their stuff is only going to get in your way. For example, to paint the cabinets, you must move everything off the kitchen counters and put a drop cloth down. To plant flowers outside, you’ll need to get their kids’ toys off the yard. And bathroom upgrades (which have some of the highest returns of any DIY project) means fiddling around in one of the most private rooms of the house.

⇒ Renovate one room at a time.

While in-between tenants, it may be tempting to do a complete overhaul on the home. But instead of starting multiple projects, do one at a time. You’ll finish much faster, plus prospective tenants will be more likely to rent if they only see one room under construction when they visit the home.

Plus, it’s a lot less expensive! Laying hardwood throughout a whole house is a costly undertaking. Doing it for just the upstairs or those two rooms that needed it the most is much more manageable on your wallet and time.

⇒ Green is good.

Investing in green products for the home is a good investment both financially and socially. Not to mention they typically last longer than traditional units. Here are a few examples of what you can do:

  • Install low-flush toilets
  • Put water-saving shower heads on every shower
  • Replace a tub with a shower (if you’re renovating the entire bathroom)
  • Install solar panels (your tenants will love the lower energy bills)
  • Put in efficient HVAC and water heating systems

Even though you may not directly benefit from some of these, your tenants will! Some will even be willing to pay more, knowing they’ll have lower bills and live in a greener home than the alternatives.

⇒ Stick to areas with high ROIs.

DIY landlords will often renovate anything they don’t like. While this is logical, it makes more sense from an ROI perspective to focus on specific areas of the home. The kitchen and bathrooms are the best rooms to work on, as your ROI is typically about 85%. Improving the flooring, as mentioned earlier, also has a great ROI of (usually) at least 70%.

Our Takeaway

There you have it—some of the best DIY projects and tips for landlords. We acknowledge that these activities aren’t always the most fun in the world, but they help you stay involved with the property, learn a few new skills, and save tens of thousands of dollars over time.

Authors

  • Karina Jugo

    Karina Jugo is a content administrator at RentPost who works directly with real estate and property management experts to create resources and guides for property managers. She has more than 15 years of experience in content research and writing for various industries.

  • Jacob Thomason

    Jacob Thomason is the CEO and co-founder of RentPost, software platform providing property managers, landlord or owners with the tools necessary for property management. Jacob is a software entrepreneur with with a vast array of expertise ranging from business concept design to software architecture and development. He is running RentPost for more than 14 years and helping property managers and property owners.

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