You've got a house, now the question is
"What to do with it?"
The best first step is to evaluate the neighborhood. If the neighborhood has shingle roofs, vinyl floors and basic amenities in the homes, you don't need a tile roof, ceramic tile and gold plated fixtures. The objective when doing a quick cost-effective rehab is conformity with the neighborhood. Flooring, paint and some landscaping the curb appeal are almost always a requirement to freshen the appearance of the property, after that, your rehab should focus on getting the most improvement for your investment dollar.
Experienced investors are more prone to purchasing properties needing structural rehabilitation or rebuild. If there are sagging floors, cracked foundations, fire damage, water or dryrot damage, these are types of homes in Toronto that can bring the highest return on investment. While these kinds of property can be purchased very often way below market value, the rehab cost will be extensive but the gain can be huge! The difficulty in evaluating cost of repairs means this type of property should be left to more experienced investors and contractors and not the first time handy man that's just getting his feet wet.
Beginning Cosmetic Rehab
You've evaluated the area and know what the house should look like, now how do you get it there? If you start on the outside first pruning back overgrown trees, cutting shrubbery back and getting any lawn back to a normal height, that's the first step. Watering on a regular basis after your trim back will allow plants and trees to start to grow in an attractive fashion, having some form of greenery in Toronto is a huge plus! You start with vegetation first, because you can control the speed of interior projects, but you can't make plants grow any faster. A freshly painted exterior on a home greatly improves it's curb appeal. Since you have the existing plants cut back, now is a good time to proceed with exterior paint. Again, keep in mind you are looking for conformity with the area, colors should be in the same range as other area homes.
Inside Cosmetic Rehab
There are three basic inside area types - kitchen, bath and living. Kitchen and bath are the most expensive to rehab and living areas are fairly inexpensive to rehab.
Starting with basic living areas, pull the carpet from each living area. It's much easier to paint with the exposed sub floor as the new floors should be installed near the end of the rehab. Window coverings, electrical outlet covers, switch plates, light fixtures, door knobs and hinges can all be pulled. Please keep in mind the power should be turned off at the breaker box anytime you are working around electrical fixtures and outlets. You should be able to see every imperfection in the walls, now is the time to patch, clean and prep for painting. Mask off door frames, cabinets and window frames. When you've completed the prep, start the painting. Spraying is the fastest method of applying paint, since the house is gutted, over spray isn't a major problem except around your masked areas. Ventilation is important though, so you'll want to open windows wherever you're working.
How long does the process take?
Depends on how much time you want to spend and how much you want to contract out. Doing one at a time, cosmetic rehabs shouldn't take more than 30-45 days total. If you are doing multiple rehabs or require roofs, driveways, major debris removal, these can all cause delays due to scheduling problems. You can reduce the time by contracting interior and exterior painting, use day labor for exterior cleanup and use supervised day labor for some interior work. Most rehabbers start to contract out the labor intensive jobs as they progress. It's often most cost effective to find a new project rather than spend the time actually working on the projects.
How much will it cost?
Time for you to spend some time at Home Depot, Rona, or your local building supply store. Get your local prices for knobs, hinges, switches, outlets, cover plates, light fixtures, bulbs, mailboxes, plumbing supplies, sinks, toilets, water heaters, faucets and paint. Write the prices down, after a few trips, you should have a decent knowledge of material costs. You'll add to your knowledge as you go along and every time you purchase more supplies, you'll see other items and add to your knowledge. Always figure on flooring, paint and fixture replacement. Then you'll only have to add specific items as needed for individual properties. If you can't get a close estimate of costs then you need to re evaluate and budget yourself accordingly! The most prudent action plan would be to speak with professionals such as your Realtor, Contractor, Home Inspector to just name a few who specialize in all aspects of real estate!
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