We did it!!!!! We bought our first investment property on May 5th, and in three weeks time, scheduled showings, got a year lease signed, and renovated two bathrooms and the kitchen ourselves! We are exhausted from working 24/7, but we set a goal, and we did it. At least to me, there is no more fulfilling feeling than accomplishing each step toward your dreams, and getting higher and higher as you climb those steps you’re building.
The renters moved in last week, and on Wednesday, we moved all of our tools out of the garage back into our home. I’ve since been sleeping almost constantly the last few days, just trying to rest and find myself again after pushing myself to my limits.
We are seriously proud of what we accomplished in the last few weeks. We’ve had no special training or experience to do this. We just had an idea, researched it like heck, and then executed the plan we made.
It cost us about $1,400 in supplies to renovate both bathrooms and kitchen, and then we paid a professional plumber $230 to replace an external faucet that was corroded beyond functional use. (More on that later.) We also paid $260 to have it professionally cleaned by a friend who just started her own business. If you can’t share your wealth with hard-working people who deserve it, you don’t deserve the blessings of wealth, is my thought.
So the entire project cost us around $2,000 to get the house updated from the 1980’s to the 2017’s which is a pretty good deal if you ask me. Check out these before and after pictures. I bet we added 10K in value to the house with all of the sweat equity we put in:
Before Basement Bathroom:
After Basement Bathroom:
I am going to enjoy the heck out of the next week or two of resting, but I wanted to post a few learning experiences I had along the way as I renovated my first rental property.
Lesson #1: Finding closeout deals is fun, until you realize you can’t return them.
I have a personal hobby of deal-finding, and value searching, which has aided me greatly in my adventure toward wealth. However, it didn’t work as well as I thought it would when buying supplies for my first rental property.
Before buying the property, I had visions of myself going to all the great closeout shops, and scouring craigslist for all the coolest deals on items I could use to improve the house value with. I thought I’d make out like a financial bandit since I’d get everything on a deal, and wouldn’t have to pay retail prices for new bathroom vanities, mirrors, light fixtures, doors, etc.
This plan worked at first as I started to buy stuff, but then when things started not fitting, or not working, in their intended location, I realized I had just wasted a bunch of money because I didn’t have a store to return them to!!!!
For instance, the vanity sink-top I bought for the basement bathroom looked perfect in the craigslist picture, but then once I got it home and into the bathroom, I realized it totally clashed with the tile and looked like someone had puked all over it!!!!!!
And the new vanity lights I bought on a non-returnable liquidation sale looked like a steal until I got home, and realized they were wall-mounted fixtures, and I needed ceiling mounted fixtures. Suddenly that great bargain, became $80 worth of light fixtures that I couldn’t return or use.
This was a valuable lesson for me: Sometimes, when you’re doing renovations on a tight timeline and don’t have the time to really study what you’re buying, sometimes it’s better just to buy stuff at retail stores, because then, even if you spend a little more, you can at least return it for a full refund if it doesn’t work out. Now, I’m having to list this stuff on Craigslist and waste more of my time dealing with people.
I learned my lesson on this project: Only buy non-returnable stuff for home improvement projects if I am absolutely 100% sure they will work for me. Because if they don’t work, I’m just wasting that money I could be saving.
(However, I did find a couple of great steals: I paid $140 for the $310 basement bathroom vanity. I also paid $20 for a $100 florescent kitchen light. And $5 for a $20 sump pump hose. So my deal-finding hobby sometimes worked for me.)
Lesson #2: I learned that plumbing issues are what keep a real estate investor up at night, and sometimes it’s just worth hiring a professional so you can sleep better.
When I bought my first investment property, I was super excited to start getting my hands dirty and doing a lot of the work myself. I’ve been a home owner myself for the last three years, and with the help of DIY UTUBE videos I’ve learned how to do so many things myself. I just thought I could take all this knowledge over to my next property.
That attitude helped me re-tile the shower, and paint the kitchen, but I realized that plumbing problems are their own black hole full of nightmares and tricky to navigate.
For example, I had to install a sink drain five times before I could get it to work and not leak. And then I was awake all night wondering if it was leaking when I was gone sleeping in my own house!!!
I learned that it’s fun to experiment doing DIY projects in your own house, because you live there and can watch to see if your fixes are working every day. But in an investment property, YOU DON’T LIVE THERE SO YOU NEVER KNOW IF YOUR PLUMBING FIXES ARE WORKING!!!!
My drain project taught me that it’s EXTREMELY hard to control running water 100% of the time even if you follow the directions perfectly. Every house is different. Leaking water is the cause of the biggest, and most expensive damages, which is why it keeps investors like me up at night.
I learned that even though I like to do a lot of the renovation work myself, if I am not living there and able to check my plumbing fixes every day, some projects are just worth paying a professional plumber to come out and do them right the first time. Plumbing problems = Professional help from now on.
Lesson #3: If you renovate a home, don’t underestimate how long the finishing touches will take.
I first learned this lesson years ago when I was working in an industrial shop spraying bed-liners in trucks. If something looked like it would take me 30 minutes to complete, I learned that it would probably take me an hour. If something looked like it would take an hour, it would really take 3, because something unexpected always comes up.
Even though I had learned this lesson earlier in life, I watched Amanda learn this lesson as we worked on this project. I remember her saying when we first started working on the house, “We can do this. We have three weeks!”
We ended up making it work, but the night before the renters moved in, we were up to 2AM on a work night doing the finishing touches to the house. The finishing touches always take longer than expected, so always budget yourself a few extra days of cushion time for clean up and touch up.
So I implore to you: Whenever you’re starting on a big project, do as much work as you can in the beginning, because you’ll want to get ahead on your timeline because things WILL go wrong. You will have to re-do things like I did when I had to put in the sink 5 times; or when I had to re-engineer the door handle with my metal grinder to fit the hole in the door.
Renovating and improving your investment properties, and your life, sometimes just takes longer than you expect and plan.
Always plan ahead; try to get ahead of schedule as you work; do the best you can; and you really can do anything you put your mind to.
I’m going to continue to sleep this week and just enjoy feeling grateful for the life I am building. I’m glad the project is done; we learned a lot. But it does feel great to get my life back.
Pro-tip #1: I also forgot to mention this learning lesson: Whatever you budget for the renovation, don’t forget to include upping your eating-out costs. We were so busy working, and exhausted from working, that we didn’t have time or the energy to cook our usual home meals every night. This led to more frequent stops at fast food restaurants that were close to Home Depot or Menards than we’d like to admit. So we learned: When our home renovation commitments go up, so will our eating-out budget. Plan a couple hundred bucks in the budget for that!
Pro-Tip #2: I also learned that I wouldn’t advise anyone to take on a real-estate investment opportunity unless you’d think you’d enjoy it. Life is about enjoying your journey through it, and not dreading the challenges coming your way. I personally enjoy taking on big challenges, and completing them. I enjoy learning new hobbies that can increase the value of things. I enjoy working with people. I enjoy shopping for home-improvement deals. I enjoy making things better. I enjoy creating opportunities to make my dreams come true. I enjoyed the process of making my life more fulfilling by increasing the value of my things. This made me think that I’d probably enjoy real-estate investing, so I wanted to at least try it. If you hate doing the above things, I’d probably advise you to avoid what it takes to be great at it, and find something you enjoy doing instead.
Check it out: I am back doing one of my favorite things to do in the summer: Long evening walks through the nature preserve behind our house. I haven’t done this since April. It feels good to get my life back again after a month of 24/7 work! Peace out and I’m getting excited to start writing again. See you next week!
Feels so good to get outside and enjoy my evening walks again in the nature preserve behind my house. My favorite thing to do. pic.twitter.com/82Hxrg8Us8
— Wealth Well Done (@WealthWellDone) June 8, 2017
After buying and rehabbing the rental 24/7for a month, feels so good to open bedroom french doors and just relax, enjoy, and feel grateful. pic.twitter.com/9scbKW1qAP
— Wealth Well Done (@WealthWellDone) June 4, 2017
READ ON AND LEAVE A COMMENT FOR SOMEONE READING THIS AFTER YOU. What did you learn from this article? What have you learned from your own DIY projects, or renovations that can help me?