I participate in the Amazon Affiliate Program. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. The good news is that it doesn't cost you extra! You can learn more on the Privacy & Advertising tab at the top of the screen.

Rental House Renovation: Part 1

I'll finish up the year with a blog post of a project that was actually worked on at the beginning of the year. There was some negativity wrapped around this project and it's taken me this long to get enough distance from it to post about it!

This is a two family house that we owned locally. The property is a single story brick and each unit has two bedrooms and one bath. Both units were occupied when we purchased the house. The front unit is well maintained by what I would describe as a dream tenant. She pays the rent on time and keeps the house as a home. The back unit was a different story.

We knew the back unit needed updates when we bought the property and planned to do improvements once it was vacant. The back unit tenant had pets and let's just say at this point that it smelled. Really bad. Really, really bad. Also, I don't think the unit was ever cleaned in the three years she lived there. I'll tell you more about that in another post. Did I mention it smelled?

At the time the "before" photos were taken we were a few days into the project. My husband and son-in-law removed the carpet from the living room and bedrooms and also removed a lot of trash that was left behind.

This is the view of the living room from the front entrance / foyer. Off to the left is the kitchen. To the right is the master bedroom, a linen closet, and then the second bedroom. The bathroom is at the end of the hall past the second bedroom. Behind the dark accent wall in the living room is a laundry room and utility room.

Before: Living room

The unit has an eat-in kitchen. The cabinets and appliance are on the back wall. The oven was moved temporarily so we could create an access panel to the plumbing in the bathroom as well as a shut off valve.

Before kitchen

There is a laundry area in the kitchen. It is adjacent to the utility room (furnace and hot water heater) but unfortunately there is no wall separating the two areas. We'll fix that later. The space for the washer and dryer was not deep enough to actually fit the appliances and they stuck out into the kitchen. The kitchen has a newer laminate floor that's in decent shape, so we'll keep it.

Before laundry room

The oven usually sits below the microwave. It's moved out of the way at this point so we could work in the corner.

Creating an access panel to plumbing

The kitchen also has a decent sized pantry. This is the view from the center of the kitchen facing the living room.

Before kitchen pantry

From the other side of the laundry room is the utility room. I took this photo standing in the second bedroom. As you can see it's an "open concept" into the kitchen. Not a good design! There were louvered doors to close off the utility room which we removed for remodeling. But as I mentioned the laundry area didn't have doors so the back of the utility room was open from the kitchen.

Poor design of utility room

I wasn't able to get photos of the bathroom before renovations started. There was some nastiness in the bathroom that my husband remedied before I was allowed in. I'm not sure what it was and frankly I don't want to know! The tiles were original to the house and were at one time a vintage pink. At some point in time they were painted over, but the paint was peeling, so my husband ripped them out. He also wanted to get access to the plumbing to create an access panel and shut off valve within the unit (the shut off valve for both units was in the front unit).

Before: bathroom demo underway

The vanity doors were falling off, so we ripped them off all the way. I'm not sure why the bathroom heat vent is beneath the vanity.

Before bathroom sink and vanity

I think painting tile can be a good option for an update, however, it must be done properly to get good adhesion. This is an example of what a poor paint job looks like. It was even worse in the shower area.

Example of poorly painted tile

The bathroom floor was in fairly decent shape, so we'll keep it.

Bathroom floor

The property has a large fenced yard and is located in a nice area of town. The oven is outside at this point so I could clean it.

Rental unit with large fenced yard

Since it's a rental property we didn't plan on giving it a high-end renovation; however, we did want it clean and decent for a new tenant. I'll list our initial plan below, which we pretty much stuck to with a few exceptions. As they say, time is money and we needed to get it finished and rented asap.  We set a timeline of four weeks for the project, but it actually ended up taking six weeks as we couldn't work on it full-time.

  • Order dumpster for trash and construction debris.
  • Remove and replace carpet and pad.
  • Clean. Everything.
  • Paint every room.
  • Kitchen -- replace or paint cabinets. To be decided later.
  • Build out laundry room deep enough to store washer/dryer. Add wall to separate the laundry and utility room. Add light to laundry room.
  • Add attic access to unit.
  • Add water shut-off valve to unit.
  • Bathroom: Remove and replace tile and vanity in bathroom. Re-tile or add a tub surround. Either replace tub or have it refinished.
  • Remove & replace blinds.
  • Remove & replace screen door.
You can see the during photos HERE in Part 2.
The final reveal photos and actual cost of the project are HERE in Part 3.

Stay tuned for the next post about the renovations, improvements, and the after photos. Thank you for stopping by the blog today! Wishing you a Happy New Year!


  1. Can't wait to see all tge end results. I know it will be amazing, especially seeing the fabulous table. Have a safe New Year Eve tonight.

    1. Thank you Ivory Jean. I hope you have a safe and happy new year, too!

  2. So appreciate your projects! Can't wait to see how you transform this property.

  3. Oh wow, looking forward to seeing the reveal of this rennovation. Sadly, there is a rental down the street from us. The former tenant kept it immaculate and always had the cutest decor on the front steps and around the yard. Then she moved and a group of young men moved in and the place is literally being trashed. It's such an eye sore to the neighborhood and I often wonder why the owner hasn't given them the boot. I hope you get another tenant like the woman in your other suite that will value your hard work and keep it looking nice.

    1. I know what you mean Marie. Bad tenants really take a toll on the property value of the rental as well as the entire neighborhood.


Post a Comment

A note regarding comments: I welcome questions and comments and make every effort to acknowledge every comment. Please note that comments on older posts are moderated to reduce spam, so there might be a delay before your comment is published. HINT: Select the NOTIFY ME box to receive a notification of replies.

Popular Posts