Why Every Unit Must Be Uniformed

Every one of your units must be uniformed

You notice when you go into a chain store or restaurant anywhere in the country it looks familiar to you? When you walk into the CVS you know the pharmacy is in the back, the refrigerated drinks are to the right. The colors are all the same and the employees are wearing the same uniform.

When you’re on a road trip and you stop at your favorite burger joint in Boise, Idaho, it looks, and tastes the same as it did in Detroit, MI.

There are reasons for this; efficiency and knowledge of the building and how to run it, or repair it if needed.

This is exactly what I do with my rental units.

In my residential units I use the exact same plumbing faucets, electrical fixtures, paint, sinks, toilets, windows, appliances, and anything else I might need to replace.

This makes the houses very easy to maintain and fix if needed. Or if something goes wrong I know exactly how to fix, replace, or who to call to fix it.

When I buy a house here’s the first things I do to uniform it and make it efficient.

Bathroom– I immediately put in a single handle faucet in the bathtub. With only one piece of hardware in the tub there are less moving parts to break and fix than those old three handles. I buy Delta for all my faucets they are reliable and I’ve never had a problem with them. If there’s a leak behind your tub it will be a costly problem to fix. Which I’ve had to do. The Deltas not only look much better and more modern but they won’t leak and break as easy as the others.

If needed I’ll do the same for the sink faucet. Sometimes I’ll have to buy a new sink cabinet. I just go to Home Depot or Lowes and buy one for a few hundred bucks.
I always buy a new toilet seat but rarely have to buy a new toilet.

I always try to shop local and support small biz first. But here’s the problem. Usually they won’t have what I need in stock. I went to get a lighting fixture a few weeks ago at a small shop, they said they don’t have it in stock and need to order it. Said they would call me in a few days when it’s in. Well 2 weeks go by and it’s still not in. I say forget it and get a refund. I go to Home Depot and pick up a fixture in 10 minutes. This disappointment has happened way too many times with these small hardware stores. So, I always go to the big box now.

Electrical– If needed I replace all outlets, switches, and covers. All white.

In the living room I always install a ceiling fan. Usually there is already a junky one there and I put up a new Hampton Bay from Lowes. $50. All other light fixtures I use I get from Lowes about $20 a piece, in every single room they are all the exact same I install them myself which is very easy. They are white with a silver strip around the base.

I always make sure there are updated circuit breakers in the house. If it has the knob and tube panel I might pass.  Unless it’s such a good deal, then I’ll pay the few grand to have new panels installed.  As I did on a 4 unit.  There were 5 panels, one for the main hallways that the landlord paid.  I just had those new wires run through the tenant’s boxes.  The voltage is so low for about 3 lights, they’ll never see a major difference on their bill. It also leaves me with one less thing to worry about and one less small bill.

The houses I buy never need a full remodel but usually they’ll need some updating.

Kitchen– New stove. White, electric, glass top. If gas I’ll have it changed. The stoves are cheaper, and I don’t trust my tenants with an open flame. It looks clean and when it’s new I leave some of the tape on the outside so they know its brand new. <$500

White fridge I bought used before but it didn’t turn out. It was just junky. Spend $500 get a new fridge. No ice maker or water dispenser. Just freezer on top with some ice trays.

If there is a dish washer and needs to be replaced. Same thing white and clean.

The floors I get dark gray sticky tile put down. Higher end units I use the same color tile.

If cabinets are old I just paint them white. And throw on new silver hinges and pulls.

If cabinets need to be replaced go to Ikea and get them for around $1,000. You install them yourself and they are really easy to do.

Basement– You won’t believe how many houses I see with old single pane basement windows in them. Even houses in bad areas I don’t see that much glass block windows.

These old windows you can tap them and they’ll break.

Always put in glass block windows they look much better, they keep the heat in, and they are much safer than the old single pane.

In the basement I just sweep the floor and clean it up. I don’t make it livable I do put in new electric washer and dryers tough. About $600 total.

If needed a new finance with central air this gets a bit pricey around 4-5K

I have a guy that puts them in right away and he’s done in half a day. I’ve bought 4 from him so far.

I rip any old wiring from TV antennas, door bells, old phone lines, or anything that isn’t needed I rip out. Doesn’t matter how big or small. It’s just something for your tenant to break or hurt themselves on.  When I was ripping out wires in a basement once, there was a paneled ceiling like in an office.  I pushed up on a panel and an empty tequila bottle fell right on my head! The kid that lived there before was hiding it from his mom.  So, when moving those panels don’t do it with your head right under them.

If there are many storage closets in the basement. I’ll close all but 1 off for the same reasons. Anything extra is always taken out or closed off. Same with the attic. I lock it off if I can, and just have management say it’s landlord storage.

The other areas of the house– I always have the floors sanded, always have hardwoods in there, the carpet will get ruined every time. They look much better than carpet anyway.

If I have to I will install new windows $400 a piece. Most my units have ~10-15 windows this can be pricey. Start with the bedrooms and bath only. Make sure they can open the bathroom window after a steamy shower. It will make the paint last longer. The bedrooms with new windows will look more inviting. Then over the next couple years piece the house together with new windows if you don’t have the money all at once. Plus, you can write all of this off on your taxes. (I am not giving tax advice)

I paint all the walls in all the houses the same color. An off white. If it ever needs touch up after someone moves out its very easy. You know exactly what color to use.

The outside– Take down any antennas. Trim all trees and bushes. Put wood chips down in the back of garage or side of house. I am thinking about experimenting with fake grass so I don’t have to pay to cut it. I’ll write a post about it if I decide to do it.

All of this eliminates guessing it saves time, makes the house more efficient. Plus, it looks great.

Implement this uniformed code on all of your rentals it will make your life a lot easier.

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