Renovations aren’t just a process; they’re an opportunity. When a tenant moves out, the apartment manager may follow a renovation checklist to see what areas they need to fix. However, they may miss the opportunity to add upgrades which will make a space more desirable and profitable.
A useful apartment renovation checklist will include the items that are typically renovated, plus it will cover unique options that elevate a space to a luxury level. It will address renovation concerns for MFH owners and modernization techniques that will help retain renters.
And, the time between tenants offers landlords a great chance to take a critical look at the empty apartment and see how it can be improved in ways both big and small.
The Room-by-Room Apartment Renovation Checklist
Multifamily renovations should be functional, rather than simply cosmetic. They enhance the quality of the unit, lower the tenants’ utility costs, and make life more convenient for them overall. When looking for these opportunities, the apartment owner should go room by room and evaluate critical components in each area.
When doing a walkthrough in the kitchen, the apartment manager should take a look at faucets and water connections to check for leaks. Look through pantries and shelves to see if there are pest problems or if lining paper needs replacement. In addition, they should consider upgrading a few key elements, to include;
- Countertops: Just because some countertop materials can last 20 years doesn’t mean they should. Countertops set the design of the kitchen. If they’re outdated, the whole kitchen will appear so as well. Often, countertop replacement is the fastest and most cost-effective way to modernize a kitchen.
- Evaluate best grades from the least expensive laminates and woods to the higher-end granites and quartz options.
- You might even want to consider eco-friendly countertops such as recycled glass, aluminum, or glass tile.
- Cabinets and Hardware. Bright white cabinetry along with warm wood elements and brass or industrial hardware offers modern add-ons that will influence Gen Y and those young at heart.
- Energy-Efficient Appliances can be a good way to appeal to tenants and increase the rental value of a space. And, stainless steel appliances continue to be trending in style.
- Refrigerators: When properly maintained, a refrigerator can last up to 17 years. However, in a rental environment, it’s likely that refrigerators will see more wear and tear as individuals move in and out of the unit.
- Stovetops/Ovens: An electric range can last up to 15 years, while gas could last as long as 17. However, they could begin to look worn much faster than that. In some cases, it’s possible to replace drip pans and thoroughly clean the range to update it.
- Dishwashers: Dishwashers typically have the shortest shelf life of most major household appliances, lasting a maximum of about 9 years. While their overall style is less critical than that of a refrigerator or stovetop as they’re not as visible, not replacing them regularly can lead to other expensive issues like floor damaging leaks or pest infestations. When evaluating high-end dishwashers, water-blasting cleaning systems and digital touch controls are appreciated by tenants.
- Built-In Options. When adding cabinets, appliances, and even cookbook shelves to your kitchen, it’s best to consider built-in options that not only help you save space in your kitchen, but that also offer a fresh appeal.
- Going Green. When trying to highlight a kitchen, it’s best to upgrade entirely with energy-efficient appliance options and to consider other green strategies.
- Recycling Station. MFH owners should consider community-wide recycling stations for tenants who practice a green life. If owners don’t offer recycling stations as a part of their units, they can print and laminate a list of the Beverage Container Recycling Centers in their California neighborhood for their residents. Or, hire a contractor who can build a custom station for them.
The bathroom is a prime spot for water damage, mold, and mildew due to frequent moisture and minimal ventilation. It’s crucial to inspect thoroughly for these conditions, as well as take a close look at;
- Vanities: Replacing particleboard and weaker material vanities with stronger, water-resistant options provides a modern aesthetic and ensures that it will last for years. In bathrooms, it’s wise to stick to neutral tones to avoid creating a dated look down the road or clashing with your resident’s décor.
- You may even want to consider a floating vanity which upgrades the style of your apartment units with more contemporary appeal.
- Smart Storage. Open shelf storage has become popular for modern MFH renters. Trends include unfinished wood, metal, or glass shelving.
- Faucets/Showerheads: Minerals and other hard water deposits age fixtures like faucets and showerheads quickly. Luckily, these are relatively cheap and easy to replace.
- Mirrors: Bathroom mirrors are simple to replace and at the same time, can provide a whole new look to a bathroom. When updating an outdated style, a modern bathroom mirror goes a long way.
There are some common inspections and updates that an apartment manager will need to review whenever tenants move out. Typically, any time a tenant leaves, it will be important to consider;
- Painting: It’s rare to not paint an apartment in between tenants. On average, a tenant stays 3 years, so most apartment managers schedule painting as a line item in their renovation budget.
- Carpeting: Ideally, apartment managers should replace carpets every five to ten years to keep it fresh and appealing to tenants. Carpet cleaning should occur once a year to extend the useful life of the carpet.
- Flooring: Flooring replacement will depend on the materials. Basic vinyl panels will need to be replaced more often than something like stone or marble tiling. Hardwood could last indefinitely but may need to be sanded and stained to remove nicks, dents, and other signs of wear.
Apartment Renovation Concerns Specific to Southern California
The main concerns regarding apartment renovations in California don’t relate to any kind of specific problem or environmental issue. Instead, they’re about the process of removing and disposing of unneeded materials. This is complicated in California by the Metallic Discards Act of 1991.
This act was created to prevent refrigerators, stoves, dishwashers, and other large appliances from filling up landfills. Before a landlord can dispose of an old appliance, they must strip and recycle the metal components on it. That significantly affects renovations, as it makes the disposal step much longer.
That’s why it’s wise to work with a contractor to complete the apartment renovation checklist. California contractors are well aware of how the Metallic Discards Act can complicate renovations so they take steps in advance to resolve this issue. In some cases, they even partner with agencies like Habitat for Humanity, so those appliances can be refurbished and used by families in need. That’s good for the environment and the community.
Keeping a contractor on retainer is the best way to complete the standard apartment renovation checklist after a tenant leaves. They’ll know exactly what issues to look for and will be able to provide suggestions on how to enhance those spaces. A good California contractor can help a landlord turn renovations into an opportunity to elevate their community and make it more profitable.