by Tanja Kraus, author, get her book here www.maximumreturnsminimumconcerns.com
This article is the third in a series
Property Investment is one of the fastest ways to create wealth. It can also be a drain on your back pocket if you don’t know how to manage your investment properly. This article takes a look at refurbishing or renovating your property on a budget.
Maintaining your property so it is safe, clean and attractive is the basic goal when owning an investment property. Here are some of my tips on refurbishing your property to Maximize appearance and rental income, on a shoestring.
Often, your property manager will tell you that your property needs repainting. Sometimes this is the case but not always. Have a professional cleaning company hit the walls with sugar soap and gumption and watch them come back to life. You can extend the need for paint for years with this simple method. If there is a wall that is particularly bad - paint just it, if you think it is going to make the other walls look worse, paint it as a feature wall in a bright colour.
If you have reached the point where painting is a necessity - stick with the basics. Paint the walls an off white colour - you may think that these are harder to maintain and show marks easier, but painting the walls a solid colour is the fastest way to turn off tenants. If the walls are already a darker colour and you cannot afford the extra coats of paint to bring it back to white (the more coats, the more cost), pick a colour that will go over the old colour with the least possible fuss. This said, if the walls are pink or blue, you may need to bite the bullet and pay for the extra coats. DIY is also an option in this area - 20 litres of paint, a tray, rollers, paintbrushes, a weekend and some buddies can make it happen.
Carpets. Carpets can get very dirty, very quickly, and again a fast option is to replace them. The first step is to have them professionally cleaned. If this is not a great improvement on the carpets, another option is dyeing. I have seen carpets last 10 years in a property, they were due to be replaced at around 5 years, and were a light pink colour. The owner decided to dye the carpet a dark green. It looked great, cost alot less than new carpet. You do need to consider the safety of the existing carpet - if it is lifting, torn or bubbling, you need to replace or repair it. When the time comes to replace carpets - hunt around. Carpet stores often have a really great option for rental properties - they are are hardier wearing blend. When choosing a colour - go for something dark, but timeless. Don’t go for the mottled brown because it will ‘hide the stains’ - it will also turn off your prospective tenants. I have often used, blues, greens and purples in carpeted areas. If you can replace the carpet with something more long term - like floor boards or tiles, go for this option. They will last alot longer than carpet and are appealing to tenants with allergies, or even those just wanting an easier maintenance option.
Lino can be a budget option if this is your only option. Lino does tend to rip, lift, scuff and show damage quite fast. If you have an area that has lino, and you must make a decision about replacement, consider tiles or floor boards. I recently renovated a kitchen floor, and replaced the lino with ‘click clack’ floor boards - a cheaper option to real wood, often available in large hardware stores.
Wooden floors / Tiles
One of the best options for an investment property - low maintenance and low safety issues. When they get to the point of being a little worse for wear options include; Regrouting the tiles and giving them a steam clean / scrub. When the time comes to replace them - head to tile warehouses - you can get them for under $16 a metre. Wooden floors can be ‘touched up’ with a stain oil that gets into those scuff marks and scratches. Wooden floors can also be lightly sanded and given 1 coat of new stain.
Curtains / Window Coverings
Step 1 is to make sure there is only 1 window covering on each window - may sound a little crazy, but numerous properties have a combination of blinds and curtains on each window.
Once you have only one covering to deal with - these are the tips;
Relatively easy to maintain, most curtains can be washed in the washing machine. If this is the case - fantastic, wash them all and see what you are dealing with. If you have older curtains that may be rubber backed, they can be professionally cleaned, however you need to weigh up the cost vs value. If they are only a couple of years old, then by all means have them professionally done, if they are 10 years old, and have small holes and tears, then consider a replacement option. Curtains can be quite cheap to replace - go for a cotton blend that can be washed, and if you can buy ‘tab topped’ curtains - this can avoid all the fuss with hooks. Make sure you either have a rod that takes tabbed topped curtains, or build this into your budget. Stick with a colour, that again, compliments the rest of the property.
Can be a nightmare for an investment property - cords and chains break, and mechanisms fail. In the vertical blind area you can buy blinds without chains - they have weights in the base to help them hang in their ‘spot’. Another option that I have come across in the last few years are ‘eco blinds’. They are like the old wooden slat blinds or aluminum blinds, however they are made out of plastic. They are UV rated so wont get sun damaged, and they look fantastic! Being plastic they are relatively easy to maintain and keep clean. Budget wise they are quite competitive. If you have a property that is a little upmarket, these could be a good option.
I hope you enjoyed this article on saving money on your investment. Look out for my the next part of this series, on “Bathrooms & Kitchens”