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The Rental House Rebuild – Update #3

Whew! This house rebuild is starting to tire us out! We’ve officially been working on rebuilding this house for just over a month now, and we’re pretty happy with the progress we’ve made so far (ha, but it sure would be nice to be done!!! …maybe in another month or so).

In the last update (see Rental House Rebuild – Update #2), the plumbing was completed, the furnace was fixed, the deck was power washed, the basement “grow room” was torn down, the bathroom was prepped for painting, and the entire main floor was primed. That was a ton of work, but progress must keep moving forward! Let’s see what we got finished in the last two weeks.

The Rental House Rebuild – Update #3

After writing down a list of all the things we tackled in the last 2 weeks, I’m pretty impressed with what we got done again! Here’s a quick peek at what we accomplished this time around:

  • Removed and dumped all the carpet, vinyl flooring, and tack strips
  • Pulled up the plywood sub-floor and laminate squares in the kitchen
  • Primed the stairway and the two upstairs bedrooms
  • Pulled all staples from the living room, main bedroom, stairway, and two upper bedrooms
  • Painted the kitchen
  • Painted the first coat in the living room and dining room

BOOM! That’s pretty solid work! Now let’s dig into the hard work that went into each one of these projects!

1) Dumped the Carpet and…everything we could find

rental house rebuild - pile of drywall

We closed on our house on November 30th, and thankfully my sister and brother-in-law closed on their place just a few days after (follow their home flip project at – which means that we can share dumpsters!

About a week ago, they rented their second dumpster so that they could throw away old garage shingles and a bunch of other random stuff that the original owners left behind. Since they weren’t going to need all of the dumpster space, they offered to let us throw some of our stuff in there!

I definitely jumped at the opportunity, so we took a night to haul out all the carpeting, the vinyl tiles, and oh yeah…all that drywall from the basement (thanks to my brother-in-law and my parents for helping out!)!!

It took a solid 3 hours or so, but it was well worth it. The house looked 2x better just by cleaning out each room!

2) Dug Into the Kitchen…again

About a week into the initial demo work, I spend an hour removing all the sticky vinyl tile from the kitchen. Beneath that vinyl was a sub-floor that was in great shape, so we figured that we’d just buy some nice new laminate and lay that down and call it good.

…..but then we discovered that there were hardwood floors beneath the sub-floor, and we just couldn’t resist….

DIY – trying to find hardwood floors!!

Posted by Life And My Finances on Thursday, December 24, 2015

Yup, there I was, the day before Christmas, working hard to remove the sub-floor, and the vinyl tiles…and hundreds of 2″ staples… All in all, this impromptu demo project probably took 6 hours – 2 hours volunteered by my Dad and 4 hours by me. It was pretty time consuming, but I think the hardwood floors are going to look great!

3) Primed Remaining Rooms

In the last update, I mentioned that we had the entire first floor primed and ready to paint, but that still left the stairwell and the upper bedrooms to get primed. This was another solid night’s worth of work, but no big surprises. Check that box – the upper bedrooms are primed!

4) Pulled Hundreds of Staples

After we pulled out all the carpet, we soon realized that there were many more staples that had been holding the carpet padding down. Arg…. At least they weren’t the huge staples like we found in the kitchen, but it still was pretty time consuming. Pulling all the staples in the living room, bedrooms, and the stairwell probably tacked on about 8 more hours to our overall project, but now the floors are ready to be sanded and refinished!

5) Painted the Kitchen!

Remember what the kitchen used to look like? It was dirty (I mean look at it!!), yellow, and even had some random blue for some reason.


Liz has spent a ton of time in this kitchen. She first sanded all the cabinets and drawers down, then cleaned them, and started to paint this past week! The creamish color is really looking nice, especially with the light blue we decided to paint the walls! The cupboard doors and drawers will be painted and installed soon!


6) Started Painting the Dining and Living Room

We were excited to start painting the dining room and living room earlier this week, and check out what we did to the window trim! Instead of the typical white trim on the windows, we decided to go with a gray-blue. It really seems to suit the time-period of the house! What do you think?


Refinish the Floors Ourselves?

Liz and I are strongly considering refinishing the hardwood floors ourselves, but there are so many people out there that strongly recommend we hire a professional. Why? Is it just too difficult to get right? Is it going to take us too much time?

What do you think? Should we refinish the floors ourselves or should we hire a professional? As of now, the cost to get them refinished is roughly $3,500. If we did it ourselves, we’d probably spend less than $500 in materials (including the rental sander).

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. Hey brother, your house is coming along nicely! Painting is the most time consuming task if you ask me. Just yesterday we were working at our flipper, painting the final coat in one bedroom. It seemed silly to be putting the finishing touches on one small room when the rest of the house is still in shambles, but I figure getting the painting done in small chunks will save us from having to paint an entire house after all the renovations are done.

    Thanks for the shout out to our website. its not as cool as yours, yet 😉

    I was wondering when your floor quote was coming back, it sounds like you will be doing them yourself, I think we will be going the same route. Friends of ours have done their floors themselves twice now, it can’t be too hard. What’s the worst that can happen?

    • Hi brother! I was wondering how you were starting to paint already, since there are still holes in the ceiling! Makes sense though. Tackle it in small chunks. We’re definitely sick of painting at this point, and we still have the entire upstairs to do (oh yeah….and the stairway…that should be fun ;))

      We got the first floor quote. $3,000 for sanding only, and $4,000 for the full finish work on 1,200 square feet. Our floor guy mentioned a “rental sand” option, which means he’ll do less buffing, but it will still look decent. I’m still waiting on that quote.

      Liz wants to tackle the floors ourselves. Who knows – might be a good learning experience for the next one!

  2. Derek, to answer your last few questions, definitely hire a professional. A friend of mine and her husband just bought a home. They too were advised to hire a professional. They decided to save money and do it themselves and discovered it was way harder to get it right than they anticipated. So yes it is harder to get it right and yes it takes a lot more time if you have never done it before. Yes it will cost more money but it will be one less thing that you will have to hassle with and probably be done quicker.

    • I’m close to hiring a professional…but it’s just so much money! The fact that it’ll be a rental home makes me care a little bit less about how it comes out. Maybe it’ll be a good chance to try my skills out! I don’t know… We’re getting a second quote soon. Then we’ll weigh the costs vs. our time…and how much money we’d be losing in rent for taking the time to do them ourselves. So many things to consider!!

  3. Derek, have you tried a quote from Lowe’s? We had good luck with them on two projects in the past year. The last was for nail down hard wood floors upstairs and the subcontractors they sent us were fantastic.

    • Do they refinish existing hardwood floors? I would have thought they’d only do the work if I bought the wood from them.

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