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  • Writer's pictureAJ Shepard

The Renovation Process

Jacob Wathen: Cool. So I'm talking about the renovation schedule and best practices, essentially what I've been doing with my property. As well as what I've kind of learned from the vendors that I've been having out as well. All right. So the first step in the process is going to be planning. So far this has taken us about, I'd say about a month total. And it's also been pretty difficult primarily because, we didn't know anything about the property, essentially. We didn't get a bunch of vendors in before we purchased it. We got two contractors in early on, as well as a foundation expert, and a couple of people like that. But we didn't have anyone really check out the plumbing or electrical, primarily because that was a condition of the sale. The sellers were just like, "We're not letting people disturb the tenants." That's kind of the situation that we had.

Jacob Wathen: And when you're buying tenant-occupied properties, it might be a little bit difficult to facilitate that especially as a result of COVID. But yeah, during the planning process, you're going to want to determine your scope of work. And this is something that will likely change. But it's definitely a good idea to have it as set in stone as possible. And then once you've got the scope of work, you want to be able to meet with the designer. And the designer I found, I was like, "Okay, let me first come up with a budget," because that's logical. But once you actually meet with the designer, that's kind of what's going to be what helps determine your budget, and determine what's actually realistic. So that's an important thing to do very quickly. I'm meeting with Sasha again today to go over some more things.

Jacob Wathen: And then the next thing, and you could actually do this before you meet with the designer. It kind of depends on who's readily available. But you want to get bids from reputable contractors. My rule of thumb has been to get three different contractors out every single time for every single thing. So I've had a couple of GCs out. But I've also had just plumbers, just electrical. I met with three electricians yesterday, and I met with two plumbers so far today. And I've got one more scheduled for this evening.

Jacob Wathen: Yeah. Make a list of priorities. To determine what needs to be done now, and what could be done maybe next summer, or something like that. And of course, the weather could dictate what you're actually able to do. And what's realistic in terms of your price range. That's another major factor. So of course the next thing, and the thing that meeting with the designer will help with is acquiring any plans and permits necessary. They can kind of point you in the right direction and get you started on that. Or they can actually help pull a permit for you. And also the designer will be able to tell you like, "Hey, you need to get a structural engineer in here," or not.

Jacob Wathen: Demolition. So demolition is about four weeks. It kind of depends on the extent of the project. If you're doing the entire place, and you also have to factor in getting asbestos tests and lead tests, and things like that, if what you're dealing with might contain those materials. And of course, you have to handle those appropriately, hire either an asbestos abatement company to do the whole project. Or depending on your willingness, you can also bag it yourself if it's a personal residence or something like that. But it still does have to be dumped in a proper way. And then the next thing is, have a plan for the debris. So right now that's something I've been running into is, we just got excited and wanted to demolish things. And we just have a pile that's been accumulating over the last ... Probably the last week or two. And it just keeps getting bigger. We started out with a truck and removed a bunch of stuff. But right now we've got enough that we're going to need a full dumpster. So hopefully we'll get that in the next week or so. So we can really get the junk off the property.

Jacob Wathen: And yeah, use your step plans to determine the extent of the demolition. Don't just break into all of the walls if you don't need to. For us, we know that we want to do the electrical, and we want to do the plumbing. But the plumbing for the most part is localized. There's a part of the house that has the kitchen and bathroom. And then there's another part of the house that has the other bathroom. So we're really only going to be breaking into those walls. And then hopefully the electrician said that they can pretty much just put in holes where they need to, and we don't have to completely rip down all of those walls, which is very helpful.

Jacob Wathen: And then do not [inaudible 00:05:07] any potentially load-bearing walls without consulting a designer, and or a structural engineer. And that goes back to the planning process. But again, sometimes the timelines can overlap a little bit and you decide, "I want to start knocking down some walls." It's probably okay to knock down the drywall, but you don't want to actually move anything. It's actually potentially better to knock down the drywall, because the plumbers, the electricians, foundation people, they all said, "We got to be able to see what's inside the walls. So can you please open up the wall?" And a couple of times I just literally opened up a wall while they're standing there [inaudible 00:05:40].

Jacob Wathen: Framing and structural changes. This is assuming you've got permits if necessary, and everything like that. But it could take about 10 days if you have a contractor lined up or if you're planning to do it yourself. And of course, it depends on the extent of the work. If you're just moving one wall or removing one wall, that could be an afternoon. But if you've got a lot of framing to do, it would likely take up to about 10 days. And once you've completed the demo, of course, start that process. Framing the walls, windows, and doors. And that's likely going to be one contractor that can do all of those things, all the framing in general. So definitely have a good plan, know the size, location, and style of the doors or windows. And be able to articulate that in a way that they can't mess it up. And then yeah, if you are moving a load-bearing wall, make sure you or your contractor have the correct beam to meet the code and satisfy the inspector.

Jacob Wathen: Electrical and plumbing rough-in. As I said, I've been talking to these people recently. And the electrician said that they can pretty much do everything in two days. And then the plumber said that they pretty much can re-pipe in about three days. It does depend if we're taking out more than we expect or anything like that. But that's actually quite a bit quicker than I was expecting initially.

Jacob Wathen: Yeah. Electrical and plumbing work is the hardest to schedule over the summer. I have one electrician that said that they are scheduling two and a half months out. And I was like, "Okay, please don't come out." Because I of course want this to happen a little bit quicker. There are two of the electricians that I met with basically said that "We don't schedule out more than two weeks. We shut off all of our advertising. We don't take bids because we want to be able to get in and do things quickly." So those are the right people to know, in my opinion.

Jacob Wathen: Yeah. And of course, you're going to want to have the plan for the kitchen, bathrooms, any other rooms. At least a general plan. So that they're not just being like, "I can't tell you what it's going to cost because I don't know what you're doing." And at the same time as doing that, it'd be a good idea to reroute the gas lines. Drywall and paint. This is something that we're planning to do ourselves. But contractors have told us it would take about two full weeks, two full work weeks to do that. That's including the texture, paint, drywall, everything. And of course, it's going to be a pretty messy job, cutting the drywall, placing it and the texture. And if you're using a spray gun or anything like that, you're going to want to tape everything off, the vents, windows, doors, flooring if you're keeping it. And switches and outlets.

Jacob Wathen: And one thing I've noticed in this home in particular that we're renovating, our current rental, the textures are completely different in so many different rooms, and that is not very attractive. That's something that I noticed almost immediately. So it's something I would like to change if at all possible in this place. And then cabinets and fixtures come next. I didn't put a number to it, but it depends if you're doing it yourself, or if you're having someone do it for you. And of course the extent of the cabinetry. For us, we're doing two bathrooms where it's just a pedestal sink and a simple, probably Home Depot vanity. And then full kitchen cabinets. We're planning to do it ourselves. And we budgeted about two weeks for us to assemble and paint the cabinets.

Jacob Wathen: And this is when it really starts to come together. So that's nice. But of course, you want to have all of the planning done already. There are so many options when it comes to a kitchen. It's insane. So I know that Nicole has done this process before. And she talked to a couple of different, I think Ikea and Home Depot and decided on a floor plan with them. And then she kind of went from there, which is a great way to do it. I have actually not gotten to this step of the process yet.

Jacob Wathen: Yeah. Cabinets and fixtures. It's important to be cohesive here, especially if you are doing a full renovation, keeping matching fixtures, matching appliances, things like that. So keep that all in line. Flooring. The flooring of course can be installed at different points of the remodel. Or you could keep what's there. There are tons and tons of different options. I'm planning to do the luxury vinyl plank flooring. And I'm pretty excited about the options that there are for that, and the durability factor. We are actually not going to do carpets upstairs in the bedrooms, primarily because of the disgusting carpets that we took out of the house. Just filthy. So we decided to opt-out of that, primarily Brandon actually. But yeah, we are planning to do with the flooring ourselves. We'll see if that ends up happening. I've also gotten bids from a couple of foreign contractors that seem very reasonable. So that might be the best bet anyway.

Jacob Wathen: And again, I like the idea of making sure that the flooring is cohesive with the rest of the space. Since our layout is kind of smaller, we're planning to do the same flooring throughout the full main level, and then likely either the same or similar style upstairs as well. But we want it to flow from the living room to the dining room, into the kitchen, all the same. This is why I think luxury vinyl is a little bit better. And then the trim and finish work. Install the baseboards and the window door trim. Install quarter round if necessary throughout. This is one thing that I have a pet peeve about. I really have a particular eye for baseboards. I hate the vinyl or rubber material that you see on the right there. It seriously just annoys me. We've got that throughout most of our apartment. And I've had probably about 10 people comment on how ugly it is, mainly because apparently falling off the wall. But I just hate it. So I will not be installing that.

Jacob Wathen: And then finally the cleaning up. Cleaning up, in general, is important. This is in particular important for us, because rats have been using the air ducts for their highway. So we're going to be doing a lot of house cleaning, and cleaning of the air vents. I will probably do most of that myself. And then I'll hire someone for the ducts if we don't get them completely replaced, which is also a possibility. Yeah. So general tips, like I said, kind of threw out. Don't necessarily buy the cheapest material or hire the cheapest contractors. So far I've had two or three contractors that I've just kept my conversation very short, because yeah, there are a lot of bad contractors out there.

Jacob Wathen: And there are a lot of easy ways to figure out if they're bad contractors. I'd be happy to share those. If, if someone ever tells you to rip the toilet out, and then just put flooring on top of the drain and don't cap it, that's not the right plumber. So that's important to know. But yeah, generate a realistic budget and stick to it. And like I said, I think this is best to do after you talked to a designer. So you know exactly the layout is big, and that's going to help you figure out exactly what the budget should be. And then you just want to stick to it as close as possible. There are so many different things that you could do to break the budget.

Jacob Wathen: I have a friend who is trying to sell their house actually in California. And they spent over $25,000 on their chandelier alone. And they are upset that no one else is in love with it as much as they were. So yeah. And then get multiple bids, and just don't forget about the permitting process when you're developing the timeline. Because I'm finding that's going to be one of our biggest hiccups. Yeah. Any questions?

Speaker 1: What's your overall timeline?

Jacob Wathen: Overall timeline, we've budgeted about six months for the full project. Ideally, we'd like to be occupying the bedrooms, and at least one bathroom within the first three months or so.

Speaker 1: What does that vacancy cost you?

Jacob Wathen: For us, the vacancy will cost about 4,500.

Speaker 1: Is there any way to reduce that time?

Jacob Wathen: Yes and no. I mean, we've got a lot of other things happening too. So we've got to do the siding. We're jacking up one of the walls. And so the siding's kind of the first thing that has to happen for us. And then we'd be able to actually place the plumbing because a lot of that wall that we're jacking up would impact the plumbing pretty significantly. But hopefully, I mean, we have someone that says that they can remove the asbestos siding within the next two weeks. And then we've got a siding person that said they could do it within the next three weeks. And then we just have to finalize everything. And I want to talk to Sasha before we do that.

Speaker 1: What are some tips or tricks, or what tools are you using to organize all the information, what are you doing?

Jacob Wathen: Yeah. So the biggest thing that I'm using right now is definitely Trello. I've got if I say foundation work because we were planning on getting bids for that. I put three different bids on the checklist there, put their contact information. And then if they ended up giving us a price point, I put that number in there as well, just in that same checklist line. And then I checked it off if they have come out and given a full bid. And I've done that for foundation, siding, painting, general contractor. I've done it for literally everything. So I like that version. And then we have our expenses section on a spreadsheet. So projected expenses, actual costs, even just the Home Depot trips, random things that we've spent money on. We started to actually track how much food we're paying for since we've been just too busy in general with this and everything else. But because we started tracking that, and we realized we spent about $300 in two weeks, we decided to cut back, and we've been meal prepping again. So that's nice.

Speaker 1: Cool.

Speaker 2: Do you think the renovation timeline would vary from a rental versus some ... Like a property that's being owner-occupied?

Jacob Wathen: Yes, absolutely. So for us, and also a lot of people would say, "Hey, we don't have to do the plumbing right now. We don't have to do full electrical or anything like that." For us, it's more of a peace of mind, because we do plan on having this place for 50 years. We have everything open. We're trying to deal with all of the rat problems anyway. So opening up all the walls, opening up the ceilings, making sure there are no more rats in the house. That's very high on our priority list. So we figure if we spend a little bit more or a lot more upfront, and a little bit more time and everything like that, then we are going to have a really well-performing rental that we won't have as many expenses down the road. So that's what's important to us. Other people of course would be like, "Hey, let's do the quick, cheaper option." It would probably take a month to get that place in rentable condition. Honestly, we probably could have rented that out by now. But once we opened up the kitchen cabinets and saw three inches of ... Pulled out the kitchen cabinets and saw three inches of solid rat feces, we decided, "Let's fix the problem and not just cover it up."

Speaker 2: Cool.

Jacob Wathen: Yeah.

Speaker 1: Any other questions?

Jacob Wathen: And then ... Yeah, one quick thing. For us, we decided that we are going to actually move into the commercial space next door. So that's going to really help us offset the cost. So we won't be paying rent here. So I mean, it's not even really a commercial space, it's a garage. So I'm still living on the property. I'll be able to manage things better. I'll actually have wifi, so I'll be able to work. And also not have to drive. Even though it's just eight minutes, it's still taxing. I've been over there three times so far today, and I've got to go back right after this. It'll be nice to actually live on the property.

Speaker 1: Cool.

Jacob Wathen: Slightly uncomfortably, but it'll be fine. It'll be like camping.

Speaker 1: Awesome. Well, good work.

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