41 Best Ways to Save Money on Rental Renovations

For DIY landlords, rental renovations should help you to reduce costs, increase property value/ rent, and reduce maintenance requests, saving you time and money; here are 41 best ways to save money on rental renovations.

1. Make a plan. Well-planned renovations will keep you on time and on budget. Measure twice, cut once.

2. Weigh the pros and cons of your renovation project. Will they add value? If not, reconsider.

3. Set a budget and stick with it. Yes, you want the property to look nice, but remember you’re not going to live there; your renters are. Aim for durability and don’t over-improve.

4. Make sure you get three estimates to compare materials and quality of work, don’t go with the first estimate. HomeStars, Calgary Renovation Contractors, and 403Handyman are good sources.

5. Ask your contractor what they can delegate to you to cut costs. Pulling permits, prepping a room for painting, or hauling materials or garbage will help save you money.

6. Create a timeline and budget for delays. Products and contractors can fall behind schedule; it’s part of the process; bear that in mind when setting a realistic timeline.

7. Be your own project manager. If you’re a good organizer, you can save 10–20% of your overall project costs plus mark up on materials.

8. Manage your time by having regular meetings with your contractor to keep the organization on track.

9. Get all necessary permits. Although it may take a little more time, not getting a permit can haunt you when trying to sell your property in the future.

10. Keep track of your receipts. Many software programs and property management programs store and organize your expenses.Tracking your spending makes income tax time more manageable and shows you the actual costs of your renovations.

11. Rather than replacing kitchen cabinets, make them more efficient. Equip kitchen shelving with pullout drawers with racks to maximize space.

12. Buy former showroom kitchens. Floor models come in the latest styles and can be bought at a fraction of the price.

13. Buy “as is” scratched or dented appliances. You won’t notice the scratches or dents once they’re in your property.

14. Build your own kitchen island with repurposed furniture for added cost savings.

15. Only tile bathroom areas that need to be waterproof like the shower, or use a glass sheet or other easy-to-install/waterproof materials.

16. Don’t cheap out on taps — renters are typically harder on faucets than homeowners, and parts require replacing. Higher-end tap components are easy to find and replace.

17. Use recycled or lightly used fixtures and building materials. ReStores offer repurposed materials at discounted prices.

18. Donate your excess renovation items. ReStore gives charitable tax receipts for donations. It’s a win/win/win; you’re contributing to a charity, freeing up space, and helping the planet.

19. Pack your trash bin efficiently. Trash bins aren’t cheap; maximizing the space can save money.

20. Learn to be handy — small repairs that you can do yourself will save time and money. For example, rather than calling a plumber for a running toilet, replace the internal parts yourself. Doing your own backsplash can be accomplished in a weekend and will save you hundreds of dollars in labour.

21. Suss out deals/discounts from your contractors. Membership groups such as Landlords Buying Group Canada offer reduced pricing for landlords nationwide with group purchasing. Contractors sometimes have leftover materials they are willing to sell at deeply reduced prices.

22. Ask an architect for ideas. If you’re stuck on a design problem, ask an architect to sketch out a few solutions which you can give to a drafting service for a construction drawing.

23. Help with the demolition, cleanup, painting, sanding — anything you can do yourself saves money.

24. Do your own hauling — if you have multiple properties that require renovations, you can save your contractor’s time and your budget by hauling materials yourself. Many hardware stores offer truck/van rentals for very reasonable prices.

25. Find the look-alikes. Many manufacturers offer eco-friendly wood products that are close imitations to natural wood but are half the price.

26. Consider installing a skylight or tube light instead of a window when adding light to your property.

27. Replace or repair a wall? If the wall repair costs would exceed the replacement costs, replace the wall.

28. Paint cabinets and ad new hardware rather than replacing them. A fresh coat of paint and new hardware can make a kitchen look brand new.

29. Install open shelving in the kitchen or bathroom rather than remodeling.

30. Look for remnants to save on countertops.

31. If your property has hardwood — consider refinishing rather than replacing it.

32. Renovate during the slow season. Avoid spring/summer when contractors are the busiest; aim for the off-seasons when it’s easier to find available contractors.

33. Don’t move the plumbing. If you can complete renovations to kitchens and bathrooms with the existing layout, so much the better for your pocketbook.

34. Paint all rentals the same colour. Keeping a stock colour paint on hand for touch ups and re-do’s is a huge time and money saver.

35. Do your own painting. If you have the time, this can be a big money saver. Never painted? Check out these Indoor Painting Tips & Techniques.

36. Keep windows and doors stock sizes, this saves big time on custom construction.

37. Buy building supplies at garage sales or auctions. You never know when someone is retiring, re-organizing, or having an estate sale. Deals can be found, and prices can be negotiated.

38. Keep on top of your operational and capital maintenance with regular maintenance inspections so that you can schedule repairs and budget costs in advance. All home components have a lifespan, and it’s good practice to know the best before date of your furnace, hot water tank, roof, etc. so that you are prepared for upcoming repairs/replacements.

39. Limit recessed light fixtures — which are more costly to install.

40. Don’t hang on to a bad contractor. If your contractor is stalling, doing shoddy work, or acting unprofessionally, cut your losses and move on.

41. Let the experts do their jobs –rental renovations need to follow safety and building codes. Be realistic with your DIY skills and leave the electrical, plumbing, and carpentry to the professionals.

Rental Renovations are a big undertaking. Before your start, it’s important to remember they should add value to your property, appeal to your tenants, and reduce future maintenance costs. Rental renovations should increase your ROI by attracting/keeping quality tenants, staying competitive, and increasing the future value of your property’s resale value.

Do you have rental renovation tips you’d like to share with me? I’d love to hear about them nelda@neldaschulte.com

To take advantage of helpful tips, tools, and educational resources for DIY landlords, sign up for a membership for Landlord Fundamentals 101. To save even more time and money, combine Landlord Fundamentals 101 with one-on-one coaching to qualify for the Canada Alberta Job Grant.

Would you like to receive articles, tips, and events? My news blast will help! www.neldaschulte.com/membership

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Nelda Schulte is a freelance writer based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada who specializes in real estate.

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Nelda Schulte

Nelda Schulte

Nelda Schulte is a freelance writer based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada who specializes in real estate.

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