5 Budget-Friendly Renovation Tips for New Landlords

When it comes to remodeling your rental property, experienced landlords know how to find creative ways to stay within their budget. If you’re a new landlord, here are five renovation tips that can help you save money.

1. Your rental property is not your home

As a landlord, you may be tempted to make everything perfect—maybe you’re meticulous about painting around each window and doorframe with absolute precision, or perhaps you feel the need to replace every light fixture on the property to keep a consistent look.

While it is a good idea to keep things maintained, your tenants are not going to take the same level of care as you do with the property, so there’s no sense in bending over backwards to make everything perfect. Wall scratches, carpet stains, and other accidents are going to happen with every tenant, negating the countless hours you spent perfecting your rental property.

Keeping things looking attractive is ideal, but most tenants only rent for the short-term, so they don’t expect the property to be immaculate.

2. Repair and clean before you replace

When it comes to renovating your rental property, it’s much cheaper to repair something than to replace it. If your tenant’s carpet is only a year old, for instance, then you might consider a professional steam clean instead of installing new carpet. And you probably don’t need to buy new kitchen cabinets—you might just sand and refinish them instead.

A thorough deep cleaning is another cost-effective way to renovate your rental property without needing to “break the bank.” Maybe those scuffs in the linoleum floor can be buffed out with a little bit of scrubbing, or perhaps what you thought was bathtub mold is actually just a buildup of soap scum that removes easily with cleaner. These are things you can typically do yourself, but you might consider hiring a professional if you don’t have the time or available resources.

3. Be neutral

So your favorite color is neon green, but it’s not safe to assume that it’s also your tenant’s favorite color. While this may work for your personal home, these little “tidbits of personality” can be a bit much for your prospective tenants. Rather than decorating in flashy colors, it’s a good idea to keep things neutral so it appeals to more people.

“It’s your job to create a space that a stranger can make their own,” says Vicki Wusche, property investor and owner of Wusche Associates. “In a kitchen, you can’t go wrong with mid-oak-colored cabinets and a dark, grey granite worktop.”

4. Lighten things up and create space

No one wants to feel like they’re living in a crammed, dark room. Studies suggest that light is beneficial and it can even help people who struggle from severe depression. If the cost is within your means, you can try to knock out a wall to create the illusion of space, and you can also install skylights or glass doors to lighten things up.

Also, it’s a good idea to create space because it gives tenants the option to make each room more functional for their needs. According to the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI), space reconfiguration, or “borrowing space from a neighboring room,” can make your rental property seem bigger without having to add square footage. For example, perhaps you can steal space from a linen closet that shares a wall with a bathroom.

5. Don’t forget the landscape

The yard is the first thing your prospective tenants will see when they view your property. This is important because it can improve curb appeal, so you might want to consider a regular schedule to maintain the landscape. Here are some things you can do:

  • Prune trees
  • Cut back overgrown hedges
  • Mow the grass
  • Edge the lawn
  • Pull weeds
  • Plant flowers
  • Lay mulch in garden areas
  • Pick up trash and other debris