My Rehap Experement


So I tried a little experiment. I had a vacant, icky old, '70s home, that instead of, as usual, doing the least amount of work to it using the least expensive Home Depot options, I decided to go with more modern up grades and see how things turned out from a business perspective. I did not want to go full granite-counter-tops-crazy, but stay more in the middle price range where, with a little bit of resourcefulness, you can get look that is fairly close to Restoration Hardware but with out the outrageous price tag.

I directed this project from my command center in California, while the work was being done in the wilds of Nebraska. This meant a 100 details were not addressed as I would have liked. Did it matter in the end…well we will see.

Here is the subject home. The property management company I had wanted to sell it off for a quick sale of $1,000 to whatever sadsack ambled along and was willing to call such a dump home. It is my experience that such people never have the resources or vision to do what needs to be done to the home and the home will just get uglier and uglier as time goes on. More times than not, their drug habit, or whatever else it is that is holding them at the bottom off society, flairs up, creates an untenable situation and I end up with a bigger mess then when I started.

Anyway, here is how it was:

Not too bad, it has a nice carport. I worry about the weight of it, but its been there since the '80s.

Typical ugly '70s mobile home kitchen. I am sure you have seen worst, but still it is pretty crappy even with a Leonardo da Vinci to class it up. That round counter top had me worried. I did not see how we could replace it with its odd angles without going to the expense of a custom shop. Nor does the shape lend itself to being tiled over.

Again, not horrible, but about all I could see moving into this is someone who pretty much had given up on life.

Nice! Who doesn’t like the color orange to brighten up his days.

I will save you from a shot of the toilet.

I am old enough to remember when this paneling was a fresh look and brought to mind a masculine den in a lord’s manor. Or something like that.

Not so much any more.

Actually this is in pretty good shape, but dark walls do not help a small room look bigger.


OK now for the reveal:

I had the guys put down slate for the vanity top and went with that style of sink for the contrast againt the dark slate and the fact that it helps pull the home out of the '70s. Same with the lights. They were about $65 each and the cheap ones with no style were about $30. The sink and faucet were about $100 more than the crappy ceramic ones I used to use in my apartments.

I found a paint that matches those stylish dark vanities that they sell in Home Depot these days and had the guys paint the crappy old vanity with it. Being dark like that, you really don’t see that it is an old one.

The mirror was from Bed Bath & Beyond. I think it was about $50. I don’t know why but they did not buy the one I told them to, which had little silver beads around the inside of the frame. It would have given it just a little more modern touch. My crew boss is pretty short which is why the mirror is so low on the wall.

If I had been there, the slate would have been darker as well as the grout and the nickle hardware would have had a super modern profile.

Again, had I been there, I would had gone with some more modern bath fixtures.

The two tone cabinets were done before I took control of the project. I really don’t like the look. I found a special paint for counter tops. It is a 3 step process and came out pretty well. I would use it again if faced with another situation where replacing the counter top is impractical.

I told the guys to leave the protective covers on the appliances so everyone will understand they are new.

The flooring was Cherry click flooring from Home Depot. Only the bedrooms got carpet.

For only a $120 above the crappy alternatives, I found this sink that has an obvious sense of quality.

Lightening up the wall made a huge difference, though the guys said they had a heck of time painting the edges of the groves.

Here is a better look at the flooring. I told the guys to paint all the doors the same as the walls; makes the space feel larger. I see one got missed.

I really don’t like the two tone cabinet look.

A paint job really freshened it up on the outside. I always use semigloss so it has a shiny new look. I hate flat paint. It marks and gets dirty too easily.

Here’s a tip for you: for residential real estate, only buy exterior light fixtures where the bulbs can be replaced without disassembling the fixtures. The ones that need to be disassembled don’t always get reassembled.

Now the numbers.

My goal was to get the home in good enough shape to go another 20 years and get a decent quality tenant in it. The whole project cost $13,000; I had to put in a new heater and water heater, which as you know, are made of gold. I figure if I went with the cheapest alternatives I would had saved about $1,000. But it would had felt much cheaper.

Everyone who saw it really liked it. I even found myself thinking I should keep it for me so I would have a cozy little home to stay in when I was out that way, which is just crazy. But it just had that feel to it, which does not come through in the photos. I put it on the market for $17,000; $2k down and ether plan A; $700/month no interest or plan B; $650/month at 5% interest. The lot rent of $310 is included. Oh, yeah, I should say it is a 2br 1ba, 1978, 14 footer.

It went fast and I had several people wanting it. In the end it was a young husband and wife that got it. They went for plan A. My theory regarding the $2k down will filter out the ne’er-do-wells who live lives of chaos and never work out in the long run. We shall see.


That turned out amazing. :slight_smile:


Very strong work! REALLY strong! My thoughts:

1 - You did way better financially than i did on my rehab in terms of ROI.
2 - Your home looks 100% better in the after.
3 - Yeah the two tone cabinets should go but that is easy - one afternoon of paint on the cabinet doors to match the white frames and you’re done.


@Randy_CA - I’m noticing more now. On your bathroom before/after - you were clearly more intelligent in your remodel than I was. You avoided choosing different locations for a sink, which would have required new rough-in of water lines. I will be doing mine more along the lines of yours next time.

On the countertop restoration - did you use Rustoleum’s transformation products? I have looked closely at them but have not tried one yet.


Thank you so much for sharing!!

How much of $13k was materials?

How long and how many guys did it take?

Start to finish how long was home on your books?

Your return is indeed much better than I would have expected. It is SO IMPROTANT to have a capable and trustworthy crew!


Wow, that looks great. Thanks so much for posting.


Labor was about $5,500.

The home had been sitting empty for a long time mainly because I did not have a onsite park manager and was unable to get a dealer’s license. But there were some other issues involved.

My crew was working on the home and taking care of some other issues in the park, so I am not sure how many days they were working on it, but I was paying two guys $10/hour and the crew boss $12.50/hour but he is a university student and only works perhaps 60 hours a week. From the total labor bill, I think you can get an idea of how long it took them.

My crew is not pro by any means. At best you can say is they are kind of handy. I had to have a lot of therapy sessions over the phone with my crew boss to get him to have the confidence to take on tiling the vanity top. I had to explain over and over on the phone how to tape dry wall and things like that. They are good guys and learn fast so I don’t want to knock them, I am glad to have them (and bumped them to $12/hour) but don’t take my experience as a good test of what such things cost. If I was there, it would have cost a lot less and would have gone a lot faster, not that I am any great journeyman.

The big thing I learned from this experiment is that in my small Nebraska town park, the money is there to pay me back for getting a home in desirable condition. I would have been happy to break even on the project but it looks like I will be making a few bucks on it. Great. I am no longer going to just shampoo the carpet and put the towel racks back on the walls and rent them out for a few hundreds over lot rent.

For example here is the next one:

When I first saw it I was thinking I could save those nasty kitchen cabinets and maybe the flooring. Now, no way! Do what needs to be done and get it in good solid shape.

Actually they are putting down carpet in this home today and tomorrow or the next day the new cabinets go in. I am using those white ones they sell in HD. I will order that Black Slate top from Menards that Ivan posted the other day. I think the white cabinets and the black top will look striking. This home is already sold, so I am not going all out on it. Don’t think I will go with black tile back splash and LED under cabinet lights. Would look great but I am a business man and like I said, it is already sold.

Once the guys are done I will post photos and numbers again.

Oh, and here is that counter top paint. They have a pretty good YouTube video about it.


Thanks for sharing Randy! I agree with you that spending more on quality materials makes sense and attracts a higher quality tenant.


Great post, thank you for sharing!

What kind of flooring did you use? I couldn’t quite make it out from your post.


Wonderful upgrade while putting a quality product out there. Give people their money’s worth regardless of who they are.:ok_hand:


It seems the name people have settled on for this kind of flooring is “Click Flooring.” But that just could few people I’ve had to interact with about it.

The stuff we used came from Home Depot. I think this is the product, but I notice the option we used, “Cherry,” is not one of the options in the linked to page.


Both vinyl plank and laminate wood flooring can be floating click together products. Vinyl has taken the apartment world by storm and has some great qualities - no water damage, wears tough if you buy quality, doesn’t chip, and looks super real if you get something decent. I found one folks rave about for $2.20 per sq ft, 4 mm wear layer. Stain masters “washed oak dove.” Seems like the sweet spot price wise - just deep enough to have real looking grain. For $3.28 a foot Shaw makes an even better one that has the underpayment already attached and the clock action seems easier - saving time on install.


The renovation turned out great and Im glad to see you got a return. I love the thought of making everything look top notch. I always struggle with making things the way I like them and over renovating vs making it “good enough” for the tenant base. As for the flooring, I love the vinyl plank flooring…used it recently in a sfr rental i own. Installed easy and looks great.


Congratulations! I’m working on an extreme makeover now. Hoping to attract better quality tenants.


Nice job! We started doing this same thing when we took over our 135 unit park and have weeded out the undesirable and get much better tenants. We had 10 empty homes when we bought the park and now have a waiting list to get in because word has gotten around that we care and homes are in great condition and ready to last many more years.