As general contractors, we see plenty of commercial and residential properties in disastrous condition. These are buildings in desperate need of our restoration and remodeling services. Whether these properties are bank owned or not, sometimes they have been unoccupied for several months or even years. This allows damage caused by moisture or exposure to the elements to grow exponentially. These are the types of jobs that require all or most of the interior materials, such as drywall, flooring, and fixtures, to be ripped out and replaced. Hopefully, you are not having to deal with a home or commercial building that is in such terrible condition. Whether you have recently purchased a home that needs major upgrades or your goal is to rent or sell a property in move-in ready condition, there are many aspects of the property to pay close attention to.
One broad way to think about the interior project ahead is in three general categories. This consists of ongoing maintenance, repairs, and renovation. Ongoing maintenance is preventative and typically the tasks involved can be completed in a day or weekend. Although some preventative maintenance tasks are involved and may require the help of a professional service provider. Roof cleaning or roof coating are good examples.
The goal, of course, is to have a property that is in move-in ready condition. By definition, a home or commercial space that is in move-in ready condition meets all the requirements set by the city government or municipality. This typically includes working plumbing, electricity, lockable windows and exterior doors, and any other specific requirements to pass an inspection.
Walls & Ceilings
If there are only minor flaws in the drywall, then simple patch repairs made with spackling may be all you need. Even a hole can be repaired with a new patch of drywall. It is advised to replace any drywall with current or past water damage. Mold is a serious issue that tends to spread quickly and quietly. Mold leads to more property damage and endangering the health of your tenants or future owners. Here is a checklist to see if your property may have mold/mildew growth. If walls are damaged by moisture and mold growth, then your insulation will probably need attention too. In this case, professional help is in order to ensure all mold is detected and completely removed while new materials are installed effectively.
With a more cosmetic approach, also consider the general layout of the space. Ask yourself and your remodeler if wall locations need to change to allow the interior to function better from a design standpoint. Typically, older homes tend to be very compartmentalized and often have unnecessary walls separating main living spaces. If walls will be removed due to safety issues, such as mold, this is a good time to think about changing the layout of non-load bearing walls if it will improve the interior’s flow.
Evaluate the current condition of your floors. Does the property have dated, cheap flooring materials such as linoleum or carpet? These types of floors don’t age well and in most cases should be replaced altogether with new materials. With recent advances in flooring materials, you can have the look of one type of floor made from a different more durable material. For example, wood-look floors are made from tough ceramic or engineered wood at a budget-friendlier price point and with less. Perhaps the existing tile or hardwood floors are worn but not damaged and can be brought back to life with flooring restoration. A deep clean and polish may be all that is needed to restore flooring to move-in ready condition while staying in your budget.
Extra rooms, like garage conversions and additions, should have a proper threshold to a continuation of the flooring as well as molding. Not only does this give the interior a cohesive look, it can guard against tripping and other injuries.
More rare and costly are foundation problems. Movement, unevenness, or cracks occur in wood or concrete foundations. Depending on the severity, these issues need to be addressed by an architect or engineer as well as a licensed general contractor. If left untreated, an uneven foundation will cause damage to the walls and ultimately the building as a whole.
Doors & Windows
Older homes are likely to still have their original windows in place. One option is to replace them with energy efficient and hurricane code compliant windows. New doors and windows will take up a significant part of your overall budget, but there are tax credits and rebates to take advantage of where applicable View this page from energy.gov to search keywords relating to your energy efficient home improvement upgrades. New windows and exterior doors will also help elevate the value of the property.
Electrical work is a project best completed by a licensed professional. As with thinking about the interior’s layout, if wall need be opened for whatever reason, consider making upgrades to the electrical system. Bring old equipment up to the current code or for the purpose of efficiency, safety, and a longer usable life. Inspect the building for equipment such as ceiling speakers, cable and internet wiring, alarms or security equipment. If this equipment is obsolete or damaged, remove or replace it. Below is an electrical checklist when undergoing office or home remodeling.
- Have your electrical service panel inspected to ensure you are set up for your current power usage needs.
- Electrical outlets may need to be upgraded if they are not grounded and if you do not have the required GFCI outlets in your kitchen and bathrooms.
- You may want to add, or you may be required to add additional outlets if the existing number is below code.
- Check that you have adequate ventilation in your bathrooms and consider adding ceiling fans if necessary.
- Finally, consider the lighting in your home. Review the existing light fixtures and determine if you are planning to replace any of them. Inspect all light switches and make sure they work properly. Consider if you want to have any additional lights installed on the inside or outside your house.
Appliances, Fixtures, & Built-Ins
A decade is the approximate lifespan of many home appliances. Like with other technology, appliances have undergone many changes that make them much more efficient and sometimes space-saving machines. Old appliances can even pose a risk, such as fires from an old clothes dryer. Overall, most people want to replace appliances and fixtures due to their reduced energy and water consumption.
- Check your water heater and other plumbing fixtures for signs of leaks.
- Older homes were made of galvanized pipes. Unfortunately, these pipes corrode heavily over time, restricting the flow of water and depositing contaminants into the water supply. Consider replacing the pipes that will be exposed during your project with new copper piping.
- You might also consider replacing the pipes that bring water into the home from the main supply.
- Have your sewer line checked for any required maintenance? Old sewer lines often get obstructed over time with the pipes breaking down and tree roots growing in. It is not unusual to experience the sewer line backing up into the toilet and showers/bathtubs of older homes. Old sewer pipes generally need to be replaced or cleaned out yearly.
Updating kitchens and baths to a modern look with quality appliances and fixtures can add to the beauty of your home as well as the value. Upgrades can be minor or involve a complete overhaul. In addition to other general upgrades already listed such as floors, electrical and lighting that would apply to kitchens and baths, other aspects to consider include:
- Cabinet pulls/ knobs
- Other cosmetic room upgrades
Is the exterior in need of a thorough clean or is there substantial damage requiring replacement? A lot can be transformed by clearing away weeds and pressure washing the walls, driveway, deck, fence, and other exterior features. After this type of transformative cleaning, you can assess if anything truly does need be replaced. Maybe all the exterior walls and doors need is a new coat of paint. If the siding is rotten or eaten away by burrowing animals, it’s time to replace it. After the major fixes to the exterior are considered, think about features that make the building more user-friendly. This could mean adding more exterior lighting, landscaping, etc.