by Jim O'Keefe
It is easy to be intimidated by the size of a rehab
project, particularly if youve never tackled one
before. This chapter breaks down the steps involved
in completing a renovation from start to finish and
removes some of the mystery, and hopefully some of the
fear, surrounding a renovation. I hope you find it a
useful tool when eyeing your next fixer upper.
Step One - Meet With Contractor and Define Job
When starting a rehab, the very first thing that I do
is walk through and evaluate the project myself. Then
I set up a meeting with my contractor to get his input
and finalize my strategy including how to handle certain
repairs and whether or not were going to make
any changes to the basic layout of the property. Now
that I work exclusively with one general contractor,
my life is much easier since I only have to meet one
person. He contacts everyone else and then relays the
results of his conversations with them to me. As a result
of my experience, Im becoming fairly adept at
determining the best way to do the work. Therefore,
my contractor usually winds up completing the projects
in the way that I envision. However, he does offer advice
and Im always open to suggestions as to better
or cheaper ways to get the job done.
Step Two - Define Job and Buy Materials
Once we meet and determine the work we are going to
do, my contractor and I put together a draw schedule.
This is usually required by the lender and lists the
order in which we intend to complete the work required.
I like to shift things around to keep the cash flow
coming from the lender. My contractor likes to do things
in an order that makes his life easier. We usually settle
on something in between.
Step Three - Phase One: Demolition
Through experience, I have finally learned to do my
entire demo first. I used to get into my
homes and start the jobs immediately. However, this
meant we were constantly working around trash, having
to haul trash away, etc. Now, I just get a dumpster
or two at the very beginning of a job, bring in a crew,
and begin to rip everything out. We clean out all the
trash and tear out the kitchen, bath(s), drop ceilings,
paneling, flooring, and anything else that might get
in our way of completing the job properly and efficiently.
Step Four - Phase Two: Roof, Windows and Siding
The rest of the job typically begins on the exterior
of the home. We start with the roof in order to ensure
that the inside of the house stays dry, and usually,
Ill have the windows and siding done at the same
time. One reason I like completing the entire exterior
rather quickly is that it starts to attract attention
from the neighbors and people who drive by.
Step Five - Phase Three: Plumbing and HVAC
The next two items on my list are the plumbing and the
heating and air conditioning system. In the past, I
had contractors who didnt do the plumbing right
away and it only led to disaster. After they hung, finished
and painted all of the sheet rock in the home, they
turned on the water only to find that there were pipes
burst in the walls. Today, I ALWAYS make my contractor
check out the plumbing first, including the sewer lines.
It is important to have a working heating system in
the home upfront so that much of the interior work,
particularly the finishing and painting of the sheet
rock, can be done. While the plumber is working, Ill
have an HVAC crew installing a new heating system which
consists of a new gas furnace and central air conditioning.
I havent always replaced functional HVAC systems
and even today, if the current system is fairly new,
I will avoid it. Primarily, though, I always install
completely new systems. Finally, if the electrical system
needs to be updated in any way, I usually do this while
the HVAC system is being installed. In many instances,
if I am installing central air conditioning in a home
that didnt have it previously, the electrical
system will need to be updated to accommodate the central
air. Other than this, which isnt always necessary,
I rarely have to do any electrical work in my homes.
Step Six - Phase Four: Framing and Subfloors
Once the exterior and the HVAC, plumbing and electrical
systems are done, I begin to address areas such as rotten
wood, tearing down walls and building new ones. Of course,
if Im going to remove or build a wall containing
plumbing and/or electric, then my crew has to do it
before or during Step Five. I make an effort to finish
the basement of every house that I renovate. It creates
more living space, and for many of my buyers, my finished
basement is the reason that they buy my home.
Step Seven - Phase Five: Sheet Rock (Drywall)
Once I have completed all of the major systems, then
I begin to do my sheet rock (a.k.a. drywall). If at
all possible, I prefer to just skim and patch the walls,
but I frequently put a lot of new sheet rock in my homes.
Hanging and finishing the sheet rock is something that
takes a while, but it goes a long way toward making
an old house look new.
Step Eight - Phase Six: Painting
Once all of the sheet rock is done, we get paint on
the walls. First, well put a coat of primer or
a light first coat of paint on the walls and then have
the sheet rock crew fix any flaws, which wont
show up until there is paint on the walls. As soon as
the flaws are repaired, well put two more coats
of paint on the walls.
Step Nine - Phase Seven: Installing New Kitchens and
Once the paint is on the walls, we get our vinyl floors
in the kitchens and baths before installing all the
new cabinets, commode, vanity, etc. We usually take
our kitchen dimensions to Lowes or Home Depot
and have them design the kitchen for us. It makes my
contractors life easier and we always get the
right size cabinets with a good fit.
Step Ten - Phase Eight: Punch Out
Once the kitchens and baths are installed, we start
to wrap everything up. Contractors usually refer to
this as their punch out and consists of
all the little details such as outlets, switchplates,
and light fixtures. Many times, a homeowner will walk
through and create a punch list with the contractor.
Since weve worked together for so long, my contractor
already knows what needs to be done and we dont
need to do this. Sometimes it seems like the punch out
is the hardest part of the whole renovation since it
takes so long to complete everything on the list. However,
this is also the part of the job that makes your renovation
a good one or an excellent one.
Step Eleven - Phase Nine: Carpeting
Since we dont want workers ruining the new carpet,
this is the very last thing we install. We usually put
new wall-to-wall carpeting throughout.
Step Twelve - Phase Ten - Clean Up and Landscaping
At this point, the home should be finished and well
begin the clean up. Since you want your homes to stand
out, it is important to get them clean and looking like
a million bucks. If Im going to do any landscaping,
it is usually done here as the last thing.
Step Thirteen - Phase Eleven - Marketing
Once the home is complete, I immediately begin marketing
it. If the area is hot and the home is going to move
quickly, then sometimes Ill start marketing before
completion, but most of the time I prefer to have the
entire job done before allowing people to see the home.
Step Fourteen - Phase Twelve - Final Repairs Required
Once the home is under contract with a buyer, they may
select to use a home inspector and their lender will
order an appraisal. As a result of the inspection or
appraisal, you may need to do additional repairs. Then
the inspector or appraiser will reinspect the property
to make sure the repairs have been done before issuing
their final approval.
About the Author
James OKeefe is the owner of My Millionaire Friend,
www.mymillionairefriend.com, offering FREE articles,
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