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The Rental House Rebuild – Update #2

rental houseLiz and I bought our new investment property almost 3 weeks ago now. While we aren’t necessarily working on it 24/7 (we are actually still trying to have a life at the same time – you know, before all the baby screaming begins), we are still making some pretty solid progress.

In the last update (after Week 1), we had basically tore up all the carpet in the living room, dining room, and bedroom, and then removed the laminate tiles in the kitchen and bathroom. It was the majority of the tear-down that needed to happen on the main floor.

The Rental House Rebuild – Weeks #2 and #3

In weeks #2 and #3, we focused on seven different areas of the house:

  • painting
  • the bathroom
  • the kitchen
  • the basement grow room
  • plumbing
  • the furnace
  • the deck

It sounds like a lot, but much of it felt more like project management than a DIY project (which is okay with me!).

rental week 3 living room1) Painting

We’re starting to prime the walls and it’s quite exciting! Liz first started putting up primer in the living and dining room. Soon after we started that, my parents came over and helped knock out those rooms quicker than we planned on, so we started painting the hallway and kitchen! Just yesterday, we finished priming the bedroom and bathroom, which means that we’re now ready to prime and paint the upstairs bedrooms!

While the inside of the house was enjoying its first coat of primer, I started tackling the garage. Thankfully, we’ve had unseasonably warm days in December and I was actually able to paint outside! This isn’t something you get to do every December, so I went for it. In just a couple of short days, I was able to scrape the old paint off and slap on some new paint that actually matched the house! It’s looking great, and I’m glad I tackled it before the snow started flying.

rental house bathroom2) The Bathroom

I think the bathroom is going to be a fairly slow project because there are so many little things to do. In week #1, we were able to tear out the flooring, which also meant taking out the toilet and vanity. Since then, we were only able to patch a few holes, take down the border wall-paper (which took hours….!!), and prime.

For the next steps, we hope to scrape the glue off the shower surround (where the glass door used to be), pick out a paint color, and start installing some high-quality laminate flooring. After that, we can simply install the vanity and toilet and have a functional bathroom again!!

3) The Kitchen

This project is using up more of my brainpower than anything else in the house. I want the kitchen to look awesome, but I don’t want to spend $20,000 to do it.

Since there were no cupboard doors when we bought the house, our options were to:

  • order all new and install a functional L-shaped kitchen (instead of the randomness that’s going on now)
  • order just the cupboard doors to refresh the facing and make it look new
  • build my own doors out of 1/2″ plywood board
  • do nothing and keep it open (apparently this is becoming a thing now??)

After doing a little digging, we decided that installing an entirely new cupboard system would just take too much time, so that idea got axed. Then, I priced the cupboard doors and it was going to cost me over $1,000 to do that….so that got nixed as well. At this point, Liz is going to refresh the cupboards to try to make them look so nice that they don’t need doors (apparently that’s a thing now). Hopefully that works, because it sounds like a very affordable option! If it doesn’t, then I’ll spend about $100 on some lumber and cut out some doors myself. Stay tuned on this one!

rental house basement week 34) The Basement Grow Room

I’m not sure I mentioned this before, but there was an apparent grow room in the basement. It was the only room downstairs that was finished, it had about 8 outlets in the 10’x10′ room, and it had a fan that was specially installed to vent all the smells outside…. Oh, and there was a lock installed on the door frame. So…we’re pretty sure something illegal was probably going on down there.

Needless to say, all that moisture from the plants had started to mold the drywall. Since the room really wasn’t functional for anything, we decided to just tear it all down and make it available for a storage area, which is pretty much all it’s good for.

My dad and I spent about 3 hours demoing that room. It wasn’t easy, and there’s still some clean-up to do (as you can see), but we’re glad that we can already check that box on the to-do list!

5) Plumbing

When we got the house inspected, we discovered that the water pressure was awful, which was probably due to the heavily corroded piping that was used throughout the house. This all needed to get replaced, and since the city had already inspected the house (as they do for all foreclosures these days), the work required a permit and a licensed professional to do the work.

Thankfully, the job was pretty simple since all the plumbing was exposed in the basement and since there was no bathroom upstairs (which would have meant plumbing through the walls. The job ended up taking the contractors only 4 hours and we now have beautiful, clean, PEX piping throughout the house. The water is running smoothly and should be worry-free for many years to come!

6) The Furnace

The furnace is 18 years old and wasn’t running quite right when we bought the house. It desperately needed a tune-up, and probably a new igniter and sensor. Sure enough, those items needed replacement and now the furnace is running great!

rental house deck week 37) The Deck

This house has a nice little deck off the back. The only problem is, it was never cleaned and was never stained or sealed. With the warm days, my dad decided to help out and power wash the heck out of it! After about 6 hours, the deck is looking like new and is a great “selling point” for our future renters!

The Dollars and Cents

Tearing out floors and priming walls doesn’t hardly cost anything, but the plumbing and furnace work definitely cost us a few bucks. Here’s the run-down of our expenses to date to fix up this new fixer-upper of ours:

  • Primer, paint, and supplies: $200
  • Furnace repair: $212
  • Plumbing work: $1,450

The total bill is still under $2,000, so we’re still feeling pretty good about that. Our goal is to keep all the repairs under $10,000, and quite honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if we landed far below that!

What do you think about our progress? Any additional advice for us?

Rental Property


My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.


  1. Thank-you for the update Derek. I like to know how you are coming with it. I am sure it will be very nice when it is finished. Keep us informed.

    • Yeah, you should really come visit sometime! We’re making progress, but to be honest it’s still just a big mess!

  2. Wow, Derek, I need a nap after reading about all that work. I am very impressed with the numbers. Good job on keeping the expenses so low.

    • Haha, yeah, I feel like I need a nap right now too! Lol. But, it’s fun to see the progress. Liz and I are nearly done priming upstairs after our work today, and then it’s time to start painting actual colors! 🙂 Stay tuned for the next update!

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