My first post!!!
Obviously, the cosmetics of a home are important. If the rehabs in your area are the “Home Depot specials” (everything off the shelf, quick and easy) then you should plan accordingly.
The biggest things that bite you on a rehab are the things you don’t see…also, repairs you do to mechanical systems may not actually make your investment worth more money because they are classified as repairs, not improvements.
Floor and band joist around doors and bathrooms are common troublespots in older homes on crawl spaces because that is where the water is. You also want to look for signs of water damage around washing machines and other plumbing fixtures as well. Slow leaks left unattended for years will completely rot out any supporting strucutre and be expensive to repair. When looking at a home, see how high it is off the ground if it’s on a crawl space. If you can barely move around down there, repairs will escalate accordingly. Noone enjoys wiggling on there back in a crawl space that is 10 inches off the ground.
HVAC is also a kicker. For a house to get by the inspectors, any air conditioning ducts need to be insulated as not to condensate and become mold factories. So if the house has non-insulated duct work, be wary.
Insualtion…find out what your section-8 requirements are in your area. I’ve been stung by this one.
Electrical panels…fuses are out, way out and breakers are in period…here again, section-8 requirements may play a big role in how you do things if a rental strategy is on your list!
As a former auto mechanic and compentent carpenter, I give the following advice as far as learning how to use your hands. Stay away from anything heavy or big in nature (don’t plan on putting vinyl siding on your next rental by yourself). Based on my experiences, a layperson can learn to build simple decks, do minor electrical and plumbing repairs, paint and minor sheetrock repairs. Ceramic tile and trim work are easy enough as well.
Electricity can bite you so it’s important to learn the basics. The books avaliable down at the Home Depot are pretty good. Light fixtures would be an easy place to start, followed by switches and outlets. If it goes beyond that, call the electrician. Understand where you’re breaker panel is and know how to use it!
Plumbing isn’t brain surgery either and replacing a valve here and there and maybe even a toilet is easy enough. Here again, Home Depot books don’t suck for this kind of thing. Just get familiar where the water shutoffs are!!
Building a 10x10 deck is easy enough but don’t ever plan on replacing a band or floor joist. Rotted subfloors in bathrooms are better left to pros too…
Sheetrock work is dirty and nasty while you’re learning but is a great tool to use as it plays a big part in how things actually look when finished. The tools are cheap and whatever you screw up can be fixed! Hint…mix the mud up thourghly before applying…it should go on like butter!
Painting is not bad but there is more to it than you think. Having quality brushes makes all the difference.
If your investment requires more than this, hire someone to do it for you. You don’t need to know anymore than these operations and the tools needed for repairs such as these aren’t expensive. Screwups on items such as these are also not hard to redo.