Rehab for Resale

The first step in a major rehab is the design plan. If you are changing the footprint of the home, moving walls and/or adding an addition you will need to hire an architect to draw up the plans. Do your due diligence and research for a reputable and qualified architect. Start by asking for references, word of mouth is always the best referral. Specify that you are looking for a residential not commercial architect. There are a lot of online resources to find a good architect, start with The American Institute of Architects: http://www.aia.org. Also, if you are renovating a home in a historic district hire an architect that has experience with period homes.

When planning the new design of your home, keep in mind that more usable and functional living space such as a finished basement, an attic bedroom or a deck can increase the value of the home for resale. Certain improvements have more value over other improvements. For example building a deck, according to Realtors in the cost vs. value survey, it is estimated that the on average you will recover 85.4% of the cost of a new wood deck from a resale. It's a relatively inexpensive way to add more usable space and perceived value. Another rehab hint, if the laundry is located in the basement, the value of the home decreases by two percent. If you plan on adding square footage to the home, build a laundry room on one of the upper floors.

One of the most important things to keep in mind when rehabbing for resale is to not go overboard. What I mean by this is, the resale value of the home is determined by the value of the neighborhood. Don't make improvements that bring the home's value significantly over the general value of neighborhood homes or under for that matter. Don't put laminate counter tops in a granite neighborhood, or hardwood floors in a carpet neighborhood!

For a major renovation, most likely you will be demoing walls and changing the footprint of the home… you will need a licensed Contractor! Get referrals from your friends and family and then check in with the National Association of the Remodeling Industry for a list of members in your area. You can also talk with the home inspector that you hired to inspect the home prior to purchase. The home inspector will know which contractors routinely meet code requirements.

Interview the contractors over the phone and ask questions. The answers to these questions will reveal the contractor's availability, reliability, how much attention they'll be able to give your project and how smoothly the project will go.

  • Do they take on renovation projects of your size?
  • Are they willing to provide financial references, from suppliers or banks?
  • Request to see the contractor's current projects & former projects.
  • Can they give you a list of previous clients?
  • How many other projects would they have going at the same time?
  • How long have they worked with their subcontractors?

Narrow your choices down to 3 candidates and meet them in person. Review the project and designs plans. The contractors will provide you with estimates and a time line of the renovation. Weigh your options and choose the contractor that you want to work with wisely and remember that time is of the essence. You want a contractor that is going to stick to the schedule, so you can get this property on the market and sold!

If you are just starting out and have a tight budget, you might want to tackle some of the easier rehab projects yourself. There are thousands of online, TV, magazines and book resources for DYI (Do it yourself) home renovation projects. Check out your local Home Depot or Lowes for classes in DIY home projects. Check out this website for a chart of which projects are DIY and which require a licensed contractor Planning a Renovation, DIY List

Before your project starts you need to get the appropriate permits. Applying for permits will be the responsibility of your contractor, which being said it's important for you to know what projects require permits if you are doing some or all of the renovation yourself. Always check with your local city and/or county code enforcement office. Here is a guideline:

You May Need a Permit

  • Replacing or adding plumbing
  • Demolishing a load-bearing wall.
  • Changing the house's roof-line.
  • Punching in a new window or door.
  • Altering the footprint of your house.
  • Installing new electrical wiring.
  • Parking your roll-off dumpster on a public street.

You May Not Need a Permit

  • Parking your roll-off dumpster on your own property (If you have an HOA, Check with them)
  • Installing a hardwood floor
  • Installing carpet or tile
  • Replacing existing doors or windows.
  • Upgrading your counter-tops.
  • Installing new siding
  • Minor electrical work, such as replacing an electrical outlet.

The step-by-step plan

Your contractor will have a scope of work, which will detail the schedule and timeline of the renovation project. Each sub-contractor is scheduled in a specific order that the work needs to be done. Here is an overview of what a renovation project might look like.

Demolition Day

  • Dumpster is in place
  • A word about lead paint. If the house was built before the 1970's chances there could be lead paint. Your contractor should be licensed in lead base paint removal and/or should have access to a licensed professional that can safely remove the lead paint. If you are doing a 100% DIY home renovation please get educated and know what you are doing. Lead is serious stuff; please don't mess around with it!

Roof, Foundation, Siding, Windows

  • Secure the foundation.
  • Major structural repairs to areas such as weakened walls, joists and carrying beams.
  • Repair or replace roof
  • Replace seriously damaged windows. If not seriously damaged, it can wait until later in the process.
  • If the siding is badly damaged and rainwater is getting in, repair or replace the siding. If not seriously damaged, it can wait until later in the process.

Structural Carpentry

  • Moving or constructing new walls.
  • Enlarging window openings & adding new windows.
  • Adding beams to support a greater weight upstairs.
  • Punching in new doors (or removing existing doors).

HVAC Ductwork, Electrical & Plumbing

With the walls and ceiling open, it's time for the HVAC sub-contractors to install ductwork for central heating and air conditioning. Also with the walls accessible, run new electrical and plumbing systems. Electrical and plumbing inspectors will do their inspections at this time too.

  • Insulation: Last thing to do with the walls open: install fiberglass insulation in the walls and attic.
  • Drywall. After the second inspection from the electrical inspector and/or plumbing inspection.
  • Flooring. Install the flooring later in the renovation process to protect the floor from damage.
  • Windows. Install new-construction or replacement windows.
  • Finish Carpentry: Baseboards, molding, trim around windows and doors, built-in shelving.
  • Interior Painting, Wallpaper, and Other Surface Finishes.
  • Siding & Gutters. With the house mostly finished, it's safe to put on siding. You don't want to do this earlier (unless absolutely necessary) because doors and windows may get punched out, ruining the siding.

The final project is landscaping, save this for last otherwise your newly planted grass and shrubs will get trampled in the construction zone. Landscaping is a fun and easy DIY project if you enjoy gardening. With a little bit of sweat equity you can transform a yard and add lots of curb appeal. One last tip, planting shade trees can also add to the value of the home, be careful not to plant them too close to the house to allow them room to spread as they grow.

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