How best to prioritize remodeling on a limited budget

in
Los Angeles, CA
Level 3
839 Views

I'm preparing a full-home 2-bedroom, 2-bath with an estimated monthly rent of $5,000 or more in the Los Angeles area and would like to optimize improvements to help lead to good reviews from the start. So far, I had the hardwood floors resurfaced, installed mini-splits, updated the plumbing and will have new vinyl windows installed soon.

 

It would be great to get suggestions for prioritizing the remaining improvements, to accommodate a limited budget, involving the kitchen, bathroom and landscaping: 

 

To avoid the costs of a full remodel, is it an option to leave the kitchen and bathroom cabinets as they are for now? If not, would you recommend replacing the cabinet doors and drawers and possibly the countertops?   

 

With new lawn watering restrictions, the front yard is turning into dirt. I believe artificial turf is a good option to enhance the appearance of the property and is common in the neighborhood, but it's expensive. Also, since we're able to provide a semi-private backyard to guests, I thought it would be worthwhile to create an attractive backyard by installing artificial turf.

 

I'd appreciate your thoughts.

 

Kitchen sink sideKitchen sink sideCabinets opposite side of the sinkCabinets opposite side of the sinkside of kitchen with one spice cabinetside of kitchen with one spice cabinetBathroomBathroom

63 Replies

Re: How best to prioritize remodeling on a limited budget

in
California, United States
Level 10

@Jim1912 This looks like a rather rough dwelling at the moment.  But I actually see decent potential with even a modest investment.  

 

However. . .

 

Did you realize that in LA County, in order to be a permitted STR, the home itself must be your primary residence?  Otherwise, if it's a conventional investment/2nd home property, you are forced to rent a minimum of 30 days?

 

Let us know if you have that situation navigated and we can go from there.  Might be a non-starter to invest in this property if you can't run it as a proper STR like how it appears you want to.  

Re: How best to prioritize remodeling on a limited budget

in
Los Angeles, CA
Level 3

@Richard531, yes, and thanks for checking. I'm aware of the law and plan to rent it for at least 30 days.

 

I understand that rentals of 28 days or more represent around 20% of the airbnb platform and it seems to be common in the area. Why do you think it would it be a non-starter?  

 

I'm interested in your suggestions.  

 

 

Re: How best to prioritize remodeling on a limited budget

in
London, United Kingdom
Level 10

@Jim1912 

 

I was told by someone at Airbnb that stays of a month or more now represent 25% of Airbnb bookings and I remember Brian Chesky saying somewhere that they were up around a third from last year. So, yes, they are a significant chunk of the market, but of course it will vary from area to area.

 

I think @Richard531 probably meant it's a non-starter if you were planning on doing shorter stays. 

 

Make sure you are happy with the legalities of it all (do please check tenants' rights in your area and whether they will apply to your guests or not, eviction processes etc.) and do consider what you will do in terms of vetting your guests. Do not rely solely on Airbnb for this as their 'screening' is really basic. Will you have a lease? Will you take a deposit? Will you include utilities or charge for those separately? 

 

Anyway, you can find loads of discussions here on the CC about those sorts of issues, so do have a look if you are unsure.

Re: How best to prioritize remodeling on a limited budget

in
Los Angeles, CA
Level 3

@Huma0 That's good information. 

 

I plan to do credit checks, cover utilities and collect a deposit, and will search the discussions here to sort out the details and best practices. Thanks for the heads-up about Airbnb's  screening. 

 

I appreciate your help.  

Re: How best to prioritize remodeling on a limited budget

in
Bristol, United Kingdom
Level 10

You can't collect a deposit or credit check on Airbnb @Jim1912 

 

have you done some market research to look at what others locally with similar properties are doing in terms of the look and feel of their properties and what amenities they include.

 

I thought in Cali people got automatic tenancy rights 30 days plus? 

Re: How best to prioritize remodeling on a limited budget

in
Los Angeles, CA
Level 3

@Helen3 yes, that's correct. If a tenant decides to stay, they can as long as they pay their rent. This is one of the reasons to use airbnb in the first place. Airbnb vs. standard long-term rentals, gives us the flexibility to have our kids stay here from time to time.  

 

So as I mentioned to @Richard531, achieving the highest possible rental rate is the best protection from tenants overstaying. If the rent is a low market rate, it's a higher likelihood that they overstay.  

 

If credit checks aren't allowed, I wonder how long-term hosts deal with that. Also, what about income information? Is there any info about these restrictions at airbnb?   

 

Thanks for your help.

Re: How best to prioritize remodeling on a limited budget

in
California, United States
Level 10

@Jim1912  I didn't ,mean to say it would be a non-starter and that was the end of my thought.  🙂  I said "might be a non-starter to invest (more) in this property if you can't run it as a proper STR like how it appears you want to."

 

But you kinda mentioned doing $5K a month so I should have deduced that!  

 

For 28-day rentals, I don't feel like its really worth it to make the place super awesome.  I think that the updates you made already are as far as you should probably go.  Long term renters don't appreciate great things and they are much harder on your property than short term renters.  So why make something awesome that nobody may care much about and/or it'll just get beaten/battered in the coming few years anyway?  

 

You also probably don't want to use the Airbnb platform for rentals of this duration either.  You get zero support from them if/when you are in a squatter situation.  Plus, you/the guest are giving such a huge amount of the money spent to Airbnb, it erodes already thin margins.  

 

Good luck to you!  

 

Re: How best to prioritize remodeling on a limited budget

in
Los Angeles, CA
Level 3

@Richard531 That's interesting. Do you have any other platforms that you'd recommend? 

 

Landlords with long-term rentals are generally achieving higher rents from upgrades.  Besides wanting to maximize rental income, I need to be able to achieve a higher rental amount to mitigate the risk of someone staying as long as they want to. The higher the rent, the lower the chance someone will overstay. 

 

Is there any way to check credit and income?  

 

Thanks for your insights.  

Re: How best to prioritize remodeling on a limited budget

in
London, United Kingdom
Level 10

@Jim1912 

 

As for the remodel, I might have some suggestions, but could you please tell me:

 

1. How old is the property? I'm getting a deco vibe, but I could be wrong as I don't know much about the architecture in your part of the world.

 

2. Are you planning on doing all the work yourself or using contractors or a combination of both? How much time do you have to put into this if doing it yourself?

 

3. What condition are the kitchen cabinet doors in? They look like they have been painted over several times, but are they otherwise sound and solid?

 

4. I can't tell what's going on with the kitchen window. Are those glass bricks or is it just the blinds giving that chequered effect?

Re: How best to prioritize remodeling on a limited budget

in
Los Angeles, CA
Level 3

@Huma0 

 

1) Built in 1927. It's Spanish style featuring Spanish roof tiles facing the street and archways in the living room and kitchen areas.  

 

2) So far, I've been using individuals specializing in each field such as an HVAC installer for the mini-splits, an installer for the windows and a person who specializes in resurfacing hardwood flooring. I could do some work myself if necessary, but I'm slow and my time is limited so I prefer to find specialists whenever possible.   

 

3) The kitchen and bathroom frames are solid. The doors are good too and most of them close and latch with the old earthquake-safe latches. The drawers are mostly solid and sound, but they're not on sliders so they're not opening/closing smoothly. There's a wooden groove underneath each drawer in the center made to slide on, but they're almost all broken. You are correct. They look like they've been painted over multiple times. The doors are inset into the frames when they're closed. Most of the latches work, but they're painted over. The countertops are black ceramic tiles.   

 

4) The windows are horizontal glass slats that were probably installed 50 years ago. I plan to replace all the windows and am in the midst of working with a windows installer on a quote to install new vinyl windows, double-glazed, gas filled, throughout the house.  

 

Thanks for your help.

 

 

 

Re: How best to prioritize remodeling on a limited budget

in
London, United Kingdom
Level 10

@Jim1912 

 

Thanks for clarifying. So I was correct, more or less, on the period. Are you interested in going for a deco style (I mean a contemporary interpretation of that)? Do you think that would be a selling point in your market?

 

Personally, I think that a period property should be restored sympathetically as far as is possible, with the mod cons added, but I know not everyone agrees and that it takes more thought and effort. I do think the results can be worth it though. I am not a fan of ripping out and replacing period features.

 

It might not be the case in LA, but when people rip out period features here, it usually results in devaluing the property in the long run.

Re: How best to prioritize remodeling on a limited budget

in
Los Angeles, CA
Level 3

@Huma0 

Deco style would be fine and would fit the area. 

 

That's a good idea to approach restoration carefully. I recently saw the outcome of a partial kitchen remodel in a similar style older building nearby and while the cabinets and countertops are brand new and appear to be decent quality, it lacks design and doesn't flow or match with the rest of the kitchen.  

 

We don't have to worry about impacting the value of the property because we're in an area where these buildings that are sold are always torn down and replaced by mansions when they're located on low density streets like ours. In fact, currently there's a large home being built next door.   

 

Thanks.

Re: How best to prioritize remodeling on a limited budget

in
Prescott, AZ
Level 10

@Jim1912 

It is sad when that starts in a neighborhood, soon all the original cute little houses we used to be able to afford are gone. It happened where I used to live in Lakewood.

 

You probably will get the cabinets to open and close better if you strip them before repainting. I repainted after sanding, then sanded the sticky places down on our cabinets. Your all the way to the ceiling cabinets are great, but the short term renters will probably not appreciate them as much as full time folks.

 

I believe to get good reviews at the price you want, you will need to be pretty stylish in a gentrifying neighborhood. '20's Hollywood glamour, there is a lot of cool jazz & vintage silent movie era stuff around. We have decorated with retro stuff from the '50's - '70s and the young guests like it. The old guests remember it and it makes them feel at home. Keeps the budget down and we enjoy shopping at estate sales.

Ted & Chris

Re: How best to prioritize remodeling on a limited budget

in
London, United Kingdom
Level 10

@Ted307 

 

Yes, I find it sad too because once it's gone, it's gone.

 

Deco style is actually quite fashionable as you have pointed out, so it doesn't make sense to rip it out if you can save it without it costing an arm and a leg. There is already some value there if it can be feasibly be restored. 

 

Good point though about shorter term residents not appreciating the tall kitchen cabinets. Still, I wish I had those installed in my kitchen instead of the standard, modern sized ones. It's not just that the tall ones are more aesthetically pleasing, are actually fashionable and can look very chic, but that gap above is actually just a waste of space and a dust magnet.

 

 

Join the conversation