a mockup of a kitchen remodel

Remodeling Your Rental Property: An In-Depth Look at Costs & ROI

By: Steve Hembree
October 4, 2023  | 

In today's booming real estate market, rental property owners often find themselves asking: Is it time to invest in property remodeling to maximize my rental income? Understanding the costs and potential returns of such an undertaking is vital. This comprehensive guide will delve into the intricacies of remodeling a rental property and shed light on the associated expenses.

First, we will inform you of the cost of remodeling your rental property, but also why maybe you shouldn't, or more precisely, why "reigning in" may be called for.


Why Consider Remodeling Your Rental Property?

Enhanced Attractiveness:

First, we will inform you of the cost of remodeling your rental property, but also why maybe you shouldn't, or more precisely, why "reigning in" may be called for.

Increased Rent:

Upgraded features can justify higher rental rates.

Long-Term Tenancy:

Tenants are more likely to renew leases on properties that are modern and well-maintained.

Higher Property Value:

In the event you decide to sell, an updated property can fetch a higher market price.

On the other hand, fully remodeling your rental property takes time! For every $1,000 you spend, expect a day of vacancy, and that is once work starts. You could easily be half a month organizing too. Looking at it in this light, a $50,000 remodel could take your property off the market 60 to 70 days. At a $2,500 a month rental rate you're out an astounding $5,000 to $7,500 in lost rental income.

Key areas

Key Areas to Focus on During Remodeling

  1. Kitchen: As the heart of the home, kitchen remodels yield significant returns. Consider upgrading cabinets, countertops, and appliances.
  2. Bathrooms: Modern, functional bathrooms are a major selling point. Investing in fixtures, tiles, and vanities can be beneficial.
  3. Flooring: Replace old carpets with hardwood or high-quality vinyl to enhance the property’s appeal.
  4. Exterior: Fresh paint, new doors, and landscaping can drastically increase curb appeal.

Understanding the costs
Understanding the Costs

1. Kitchen Remodel:

Costs can vary based on finishes and extent of the remodel:

  • Minor: $7,500 - $15,000.
  • Major: $10,000 - $25,000+

A modest kitchen renovation could involve refinishing the current cabinets instead of substituting them. Introducing or altering the existing hardware will infuse fresh vitality into the outdated kitchen space. Remember that there are instances where upgrading the countertops might not be practical, especially if the cabinets are not sturdy enough to support heavy materials like quartz. In such situations, applying a glaze to the existing countertops can provide the rejuvenation you're aiming for.

A comprehensive renovation encompasses the installation of new cabinets, countertops, flooring, and sinks. Essentially, it involves completely revamping the kitchen from scratch, potentially involving actions like demolishing walls or incorporating additions like an island.

2. Bathroom Remodel:

  • Minor: $2500 - $7,000
  • Major: $5,000 - $15,000+

Keep in mind that bathrooms generally don't provide the same level of return on investment (ROI) as kitchens, whether it's for rental property or a personal residence. A minor enhancement could involve refreshing the appearance by refinishing the countertops, repainting the cabinets, or swapping out the hardware. Even the simple act of replacing that outdated pink toilet seat with a clean white one can bring a modern touch to the bathroom.

A significant transformation of the bathroom could encompass the removal of the outdated and stained shower/tub enclosure, and the installation of an appealing bathtub paired with a tiled backdrop. Upgrading to new vanities and fixtures is also part of the process, along with substituting the existing vinyl flooring for Luxury Vinyl Plank.

3. Flooring Upgrades:

  • Hardwood or Laminate: $4 - $10 per sq. ft.
  • LVP Vinyl: $2 - $9 per sq. ft.
  • Carpet $2 to $5 a square foot.

Among these three flooring options, your top choice would be Luxury Vinyl Plank (LVP). This flooring is not only visually appealing but also incredibly durable, outlasting both carpeting and hardwood/laminate alternatives.

4. Exterior Upgrades:

  • Painting: $1,500 - $5,000 for a standard home.
  • Landscaping: $1,000 - $10,000 based on complexity.

Landscaping and the exterior of a home function much like the cover of a book. If the cover fails to captivate, then the likelihood of picking up the book and delving into its opening paragraph diminishes.

Similarly, if your property displays overgrown grass, an abundance of weeds, or even peeling paint on the house, it's unlikely to attract attention from passersby.

Opt for inviting hues for your home. Vibrant colors that demand sunglasses might not be the most appealing to most people. Instead, consider subdued yet attention-catching shades, and contemplate painting your front door with a complementary color.

Cost savings

Cost-Saving Tips

  • DIY: When your abilities allow, engaging in do-it-yourself projects can reduce labor expenses. Nevertheless, it's essential to assess your level of proficiency. This is a consideration worth pondering. I, like numerous individuals, experienced this firsthand. I undertook the task of painting the entire interior of a house, assuming, "just roll it on, it can't be that challenging." However, I've since developed a strong aversion to painting.
  • Bulk Purchasing: Buying materials in bulk can lead to discounts.
  • Off-Peak Renovations: Contractors might offer discounts during their off-peak seasons.
  • Reuse & Recycle: Repurpose old materials. For instance, old wooden beams can be turned into shelves. Check out Pinterest for some amazing ideas for projects that you can complete.

Estimating ROI

Return on Investment (ROI) for rental property remodels isn’t just about immediate rent increases. It's also about long-term gains in property value and resident retention. On average:

  • Kitchen and bathroom remodels can offer an ROI of 60-85%.
  • Exterior improvements can see an ROI of 60-100%, depending on the changes.
  • New flooring typically yields an ROI of 70-80%.

Factors Affecting Remodeling Costs

  • Location: Urban areas typically have higher labor and material costs.
  • Property Age: Older properties may have unforeseen challenges, leading to higher costs.
  • Extent of Remodel: Cosmetic changes are cheaper than structural modifications.

Financing the Remodel

If you don't have immediate cash available, consider these options:

  • Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC): Suitable for ongoing projects where you can draw money as needed.
  • Refinancing: Refinance your mortgage to cash out on your home's equity.
  • Personal Loans: Higher interest rates than the above options, but quicker to procure.

Here is an article on Remodeling Your Rental Property For More Passive Income And Value that breaks down some numbers for you.

Before and after remodeling room
Conclusion: remodeling your rental property

Remodeling your rental property requires a significant investment but can lead to increased rental income, better resident retention, and a higher property valuation. By focusing on key areas, leveraging cost-saving techniques, and understanding the associated costs, property owners can make informed decisions and anticipate solid returns on their remodeling ventures. Before diving in, always ensure thorough research, acquire multiple quotes, and consult with professionals. Remember, the goal isn't just to beautify, but to amplify the functionality, durability, and return on your rental property.

Sharing a couple of great lists on the Top Contractors for Orange County and Top Contractors in Riverside County

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