The Rehab Order

We have discussed what to fix in an earlier post. In this post we will dive into some greater detail and mainly focus on the order in which things should be done. It’s a good time to remind our readers to visit the Get a Mentor page if they have not done so.

Some say that as a rule of thumb you should rehab top to bottom, i.e., roof to floor. I am not so sure it’s that simple. We’ll discuss. Now, if you read the discussion about value play vs yield play, I already dismissed homes that were too much work. We are only buying houses where the rehab is minimal, less than 10% of the purchase price. So this article is written with that assumption.

So the flow is roughly this:

  1. Secure the property first. Install temporary locks if locks are missing or non functional. Make sure doors can be closed and put up fallen fence panels. If there’s a water leak, at least temporarily fix it or stop water to the leak. You should be able to define and control your property.
  2. Demolish and discard what you are going to replace. You may have to order a trash container that will be hauled away if there’s a lot. You can call metal collectors to pick up appliances and any scrap metal. Do not dump trash in the garage or the yard. It will become a mess by the time you are done with rehab. Be sure to analyze the need for plumbing and electrical contractors as sometimes they are needed to disconnect things that you are going to throw away.
  3. If there’s a foundation issue, correct it next. Again we are assuming we are not buying properties that need major work. So here we are assuming it will be a few exterior pilings perhaps and some drainage work. When foundation work is done and the house lifted, it’s going to move everything, pipes, joints, columns, beams, windows, doors – everything. Your foundation company will know how to safely lift the house to reduce these stresses. Pipes can break. Your foundation company should be able to get their plumber quickly to fix any emergency.
  4. If there’s roofing work to be done, it can be done pretty much anytime before interior paint. You want to get to it sooner if there’s an actual leak.
  5. Tear-down or build new walls: If you are making room modifications, now’s the time. As a general rule, we keep this to a minimum.
  6. Clear for paint: If you are going to throw away the carpet, let your painter know. So he does not have to waste money and time on protecting things that will be discarded. Get a break in cost for that. Painters remove small fixtures, knobs, switch plates, blinds and anything that will make it easier for them to cover more area quickly. If you are replacing all of it, just ask them to not put it back. Give them the new knobs, plates and fixtures instead. If you are replacing all the switches and plugs, tell your painter that. They don’t have to protect them and they can leave the plates off to make it easy for your electrician.
  7. Do the plumbing rough in – which is installing cut-off valves, tubs, water heaters etc. Do not install any finish out components like shower heads and faucets. Turn off all the cut-off valves.
  8. Install all ceramic tile. In the kitchen, install tile where the dishwasher will go. The dishwasher should sit on the tile, so that if there is a leak water will be visible and damage can be quickly corrected. In the bathrooms, do the tub surrounds or shower surrounds as well.
  9. You can start exterior paint.
  10. Install the kitchen counters. Install the back-splash. Seal everything.
  11. Finish out plumbing by installing all the bathroom faucets, the shower heads, the kitchen sink and kitchen faucets. When installing the kitchen sink make sure it allows for garbage disposer and dishwasher connections.
  12. Paint interior.
  13. Finish out the electrical. Install the new switches, plugs, plates, fans, lights.
  14. Install the kitchen appliances, the dishwasher, the garbage disposer, the microwave-vent hood and the range (cooktop/oven combo). If you purchased the appliances as a set from a place like Sears Commercial, you can get their installer package as well.
  15. Install the new door knobs and locks. Install blinds.
  16. Install the carpets. The installer will remove the old carpet. Get the transition pieces between carpet and tile floor installed.
  17. Install any landscaping.
  18. Have the trash hauled away.

When you are all done, you can decorate the property (staging) for showings. I will write a post on staging.

About Bernie

Bernie is a distinguished technologist (Motorola heritage). He along with his wife invest in residential real estate in north and central Texas. Bernie loves to teach, both technology and real estate investing and so authors posts on this blog. You can reach Bernie at
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