7 Home Upgrade Jobs to Leave to the Contractor
For property investors, repairs, renovations, and upgrades are par for the course. Whether you plan to rent out your property or sell it for a profit, improvements, whether minor or major, are generally required.
While experienced investors often know what kinds of renovations provide the biggest boost to property values and thus the largest return on investment, or ROI, the mechanics behind performing many necessary upgrades are a little less clear. An experienced and practiced contractor can be an enormous asset in ensuring home renovation projects are done and done right, avoiding the possible need for additional repairs to fix DIY mistakes, which would undermine the ROI.
If you are planning remodeling projects for your investment property, understanding which jobs are best left to a contractor can make a substantial difference in achieving quality results. Here are seven upgrade jobs that should involve the input and expertise of a professional.
The kitchen is a central aspect of any home, and the work you do there can play a significant role in market value. With considerable plumbing and electrical demands, as well as high budget projects like cabinet replacement and countertop installation, a few mistakes can end up costing you a small fortune. As such, it’s a job best left to the professionals.
In order to make the most of your kitchen renovation, a professional contractor is absolutely essential. He can help you price materials, draw plans, recommend budget-friendly fixes with a high ROI, and ensure that all projects are completed on a strict timeline that won’t interfere with arrangements for your property. In addition, contractors can be sure that any electrical or plumbing work is done correctly, reducing flooding or fire risks on your property. Many professionals also have connections with others in the industry, helping you save on rates for everything from electrical services to appliance purchases.
Keep in mind that any additions to a home require permits, so if you’re planning to add on to the kitchen, you’ll need a little more than just construction equipment. A contractor can make securing permits easy, ensuring that your addition is fully legal and properly built.
All property investors are familiar with the sky-high costs that come with roofing, which can drive a strong temptation to simply grab a ladder and get to work solo. However, this can be a critical mistake, reducing the value of your property and creating challenges that will exceed average roofing costs to remedy.
Roofing isn’t the kind of skill you can learn easily. Instead, proper roofing services require years of training and professional instruction. Roofing is also a high-consequence investment; roofing repairs or installations performed incorrectly can cause extensive issues that may threaten almost every aspect of your house, from inadequate insulation to the facilitation of water damage. This can turn what was previously a good investment into the opposite, ruining your ROI and extending the time between purchase and sale or use.
When you want to be sure necessary roofing projects are completed with quality and longevity in mind, a professional team is the only answer. Roofers can inspect your roof and determine the true nature of any issues, suggest solutions ideal for the condition of your house, and perform labor up to your standards. Materials costs are often similar between professional and DIY jobs as well; by working with experts, you are guaranteeing quality labor, not excessive markups.
Despite its seemingly basic nature, drywall can prove to be a tricky material. It’s also a very important part of construction, so if you’re expanding, altering, or changing any areas of your property, you’ll probably come across a need for drywall expertise. Unless you’re exceptionally experienced in the art of sizing and hanging drywall, this generally means hiring a professional contractor.
While minor projects can likely be completed independently, anything beyond replacing some damaged insulation calls for the services of a professional. Tasks like removing large quantities of existing drywall should always be attended to by an expert; pipes and wires are often in close proximity to drywall, so overzealous demolition can lead to costly plumbing and power problems. In addition, contractors can ensure that drywall is installed properly, as gaps in drywall can lead to unstable walls. All drywall isn’t made equal, either, and the wrong product choice can hurt you. To avoid these potentially costly issues, work with a professional who can balance quality with your budget. Professional drywall hangers may also have business connections that can save money over retail shopping rates.
In some contexts, drywall installation can require permits. Whenever you’re expanding or changing the footprint of a property, you need proper approval. A contractor can secure the required permits for you, ensuring every job is performed in accordance with the law.
Plumbing requires an intensive training program, a comprehensive test, and an apprenticeship for a reason: it’s a challenging field not suited for the layperson. Pipes can take time, attention to detail, and deep knowledge to properly install and repair, and taking the wrong approach can create big problems. Minor tasks, like tending to leaky faucets and addressing ever-running toilets, are easy enough, but more serious repairs require the work of a trained plumber.
Plumbing mistakes can be pricey, both directly and indirectly. For example, finding a leaking pipe caused by a failed relocation effort can take time and money to locate and address, while the water damage caused by a large leak may require an expensive investment in a water removal and restoration team. Instead of risking these kinds of problems while attempting to save a few dollars, hire a contractor who will have a trained plumber on his team at the start and rest easy knowing that your pipes are in competent hands.
If you have a little plumbing experience, it’s okay to tackle easy fixes, but any of the following should involve a professional:
- Plumbing on a recently-purchased property with unknown pipes
- Replacing a toilet, dishwasher, or garbage disposal
- Frozen pipes
- Pipe installation or relocation
- Broken pipes
- Installing a water heater
Electricity is literally what powers your home, driving almost every aspect of how property is used. As such, one small error can ruin the livability from top to bottom, creating a messy web of problems that no amateur can fix.
Similar to plumbing, electrical work requires years of education and training to master. Additionally, it can be a dangerous craft – the risk of fires and electrocution warrants an expert who is well-versed in all elements of renovation and restoration.
If you foresee any electrical related improvements during the course of outfitting a property for tenants or preparing for a fix and flip, an electrician needs to be the first call you make. This includes wiring a new room, verifying that current wattage or voltage is up to par, and renovating a room for a new purpose. A pro can help you evaluate your space, make professional recommendations, and ensure that all area codes and regulations are met. Failing to do so can be incredibly dangerous, putting your ROI – and your tenants or buyers – at risk. When safety is an issue, a professional is non-negotiable.
Major Yard Renovation
Most property investors assume that lawn and garden improvements are easy DIY fixes, and that’s certainly true for small updates. However, more complex projects require assistance from a trained contractor.
Most yards are fine the way they are, outside of minor upgrades like new shrubbery, fresh flowers, or perhaps a few replacement stones added to the front walk. However, other properties require serious work. Grading, for example, can be a significant undertaking, requiring professional experience with construction equipment like a Bobcat or, under more extreme situations, excavators, backhoes, bulldozers, and motor graders. Using this kind of equipment without training can be both cumbersome and dangerous, putting unwarranted time and risk into a property.
Tree removal is also a task best left to the experts. The challenges that go into branch removal, cutting down a tree, and removing roots can be immense, especially if you have large trees on a small property. Due to the use of chains, saws, and potentially hazardous construction equipment, the chances of damage to your home or those in the surrounding area is great. While tree removal services can be pricey, the cost to repair tree damage is significantly moreso. In these areas, professional contractors are necessary to ensure that complex landscaping issues are handled quickly and appropriately.
A basement can be a significant asset, offering additional living or storage space. This is especially true in properties that allow for a basement apartment. An unfinished basement in a home can easily be converted into a finished space, but making this shift can be a costly and labor-intensive process.
Due to the proximity to expensive and important equipment, like heaters, boilers, and air conditioning units, as well as electrical wires and pipes, basement projects can require an expert touch. Finishing a basement often involves working around this kind of equipment – or, in the case of many previously unusable basements, running new pipes and electricity connections. These jobs are often inappropriate for untrained investors, creating fire and water hazards when handled improperly.
As in many other substantial home renovation projects, construction may require permits or adherence to codes. While licensed contractors are well aware of the legal requirements, many investors are not, opening the door for potential issues when selling or renting a property in the future.
Basement projects can take many sizes and styles, from minor renovations to full floor-to-ceiling finishing jobs. If the project you have in mind is the latter, a professional’s involvement can ensure a proper outcome and lasting results.
Making the Right Choices
As a real estate investor seeking a great ROI on a property transaction, it’s only natural to feel that DIY projects offer the best chance to maximize returns. However, part of succeeding as an investor means a thorough understanding of the ins and outs of the most important renovation projects, including dangerous or risky opportunities that should not be attempted alone. By determining which projects are within your personal skill set – and which require the expertise of a team of home renovation professionals – it’s possible to make the best possible choices for both the future of your properties and the return on your investment.
Scott Clift is a licensed real estate broker with Westpark Loans. He has been in the real estate industry since 1994. His team of seasoned professionals specialize in providing real estate loans for investors and other self-employed individuals. When you are ready to invest in real estate, call Westpark Loans to secure your financing at (844) 574-LOAN or by visiting westparkloans.com.
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