All redevelopment in the SFR space is not the same. There is a distinct difference in construction on a home that is meant for resale than a home that will eventually be leased. We have had the fortune or misfortune (depending on your point of view) of having 20 years of trial and error as to ascertain the optimum construction specifications that are desirous in a single-family home that will be leased.
Although aesthetics always play a role in the appearance and curb appeal of the home our main thrust is directed at reducing deferred maintenance and using durable, lasting materials. The first thing we do on every home is to address what we refer to as the “backbone” of the home. This consists of the roof, foundation, plumbing, HVAC, and electric. We generally replace each one of these systems (save the foundation which we repair and waterproof) and bring them up to current building codes. This is costly and generally does not appear visible as the majority of this work is behind the walls but it greatly impacts the deferred maintenance for the next 30 years.
We know from experience that tenants will generally create more wear and tear on the home then would a homeowner and it is crucial that the areas of the home that receive wear and tear be up to the challenges of tenants or multiple tenants over time. The following is a list of the materials we use to extend the useful life of the interior finishes:
1. Ceramic tile. This is a must in kitchens and bathrooms. Vinyl and laminate products are much cheaper but you get what you pay for in general. We have learned over time that we spend less money over the long run and ceramic floors last for decades if cared for properly.
2. Upgrade carpeting. It seems simple but spend a little more on the front end for higher quality carpeting and it will pay dividends in the long run.
3. Granite countertops. This may seem excessive but again we know the granite will last 30 years and laminate surfaces can easily be scratched and damaged, requiring replacement.
4. Name brand plumbing fixtures. These also cost more up front but all metal parts and better quality mean far fewer service calls and very few defective items.
5. Upgrade cabinets. Composite materials are cheaper and will fall apart with the presence of water. You will find replacement fixtures necessary when using these inexpensive alternatives.
6. New windows. This is a big ticket item and many rehabbers make the mistake of trying to salvage older windows and this view is short sighted as the performance of these older windows are ineffective and will eventually require replacement. In the meanwhile the old, drafty windows will require many repairs and result in an unhappy client.
7. Semi gloss paint. This type of paint is much easier to clean and wears significantly better then does the cheaper flat paint many in the business routinely use.
8. VCT flooring in basements. This virtually indestructible product is a must in basements where there is always a possibility of taking on water. These floors survive flooding and can be stripped and waxed multiple times throughout their lifespan.
9. Name Brand appliances. Buying cheap appliances will lead to defective units and multiple repairs in short order. Quality products will last 3-4 times longer than their cheap counterparts.
The end result of all of these improvements is to add to the initial cost of redevelopment but doing so will return the investment many times over the next 30 years of operation while leasing the home. It may be a bitter pill to swallow on the front end but trust us when we tell you that you can pay now or pay significantly more later.