Empowered by internet how-to guides and videos, more and more homeowners are embracing a greater variety of do-it-yourself projects. As a project owner or manager, you, too, can use a DIY mindset and approach to make simple, yet impactful, upgrades to your rental. In this article, we’ll review some of the most popular DIY projects and why they matter. We’ll also discuss the limits of a DIY approach and when it’s better to work with a professional.
Make aesthetic upgrades to the kitchen
A full kitchen remodel can significantly boost the long-term value and appeal of your rental property. If you’re not ready to invest in such a large project, you can make small beneficial changes to the property’s kitchen in the interim. Many kitchens benefit from lighting upgrades: light changes how we perceive everything, and too many kitchens are stuck in one of two extremes: dimly lit dullness or a harshly lit clinical feel. Replacing fluorescent light panels with recessed lighting and pendant lighting over a kitchen island can be a gamechanger for any kitchen. If you want to make the kitchen extra impressive, put lighting under the cabinets to make food prep easier.
Once you’ve changed out the lighting, consider adding a backsplash to the kitchen. While relatively inexpensive, a backsplash serves as an eye-catching design feature and a practical means of protecting walls from cooking splatter and messes. Many types of backsplash are relatively easy to install, making this a perfect project for property owners and managers who are looking for an easier project to complete over a weekend.
Improve your rental property’s efficiency
Just like all of us, renters get frustrated by high utility bills. If your renters have noted how high their summer cooling and winter heating costs are, it might be time to invest some time and effort into improving the property’s energy efficiency. Here’s the great part: many efficiency upgrades can be completed for a couple hundred dollars. Here are just a few ideas to get you started:
- Add attic insulation: A majority of the property’s cooled and heated air is lost through the air ducts and attic. By adding more attic insulation, you can help your rental trap more of this air inside, reducing your renter’s utility bills and making the property that much more comfortable.
- Install a smart thermostat: Smart thermostats are cheaper than ever and allow your renter to better manage the property’s cooling and heating. Here’s what’s in it for you: a smart thermostat can actually reduce the stress that gets put on the property’s air conditioner and furnace.
- Caulk around windows: Loose window frames and gaps around doors can lead to drafts and a ton of heated and cooled air escaping from inside the home. Something as simple and inexpensive as caulking around the frame or adding weatherstripping around the door can significantly reduce this energy waste.
When the stakes are high, bring in a professional
Up to this point, we’ve reviewed pretty low-stakes projects and changes. It’s important to note that a DIY approach doesn’t fit every project. If your rental property needs a major repair—such as air conditioner repair or a new water heater—you need to bring in a professional contractor who knows what they’re doing and has the tools to get the job done right. The last thing you want to do is try to fix a problem yourself and make things worse. This can balloon your repair costs, extend the project timeline, and, understandably, frustrate your current renter.
By taking a DIY approach to small problems and—more importantly—knowing your own limits, you can find a nice balance that makes managing your rental that much less expensive and stressful. To see even more great DIY tips and tricks, be sure to look at this new infographic