I purchased this 3 unit multi-family property, which I refer to as the #pvdpurplepalace, in the West End of Providence in November of 2018. It was boarded up & there was only one photo listed in mls. I actually showed it to a client. I expected it to be a complete disaster (again, all of the first floor windows were boarded up & the listing said it was being sold "as is" with no further info). But I knew when I walked through the property that I could take it on & that it was a smart buy so I immediately jumped on it (as soon as my client said it wasn't right for her--too much work needed).
The sellers had done a lot of the heavy lifting--new Navien heating systems for each unit (one that turned out to be significantly undersized and that I'd need to replace); updated electric throughout--no knob and tube, new wiring throughout, all new panels & service line; renovated units that were about 60% complete with updated bathrooms and kitchens.
At first look, it seemed like an easy project--some paint, refinish the floors, blah blah blah. Ha! I had on some rose-colored, inexperienced glasses! However, I had all three units rented within four months-- the first floor moved in in January; the second & third floors needed significantly more work & I had them ready by March. Here's an overview of the timeline thus far on this journey.....
First year: end of 2018 & into 2019
Interior paint in every unit plus front & back stairwells as well as a fair amount of skim coating & sanding Refinished hardwood floors in all units--third floor was in especially rough shape
New balcony doors
Storm doors for front doors
New rear doors
Install washer/dryer hook up in each unit
63 windows cleaned (the house had been vacant for 5 years as the sellers slllooowwwlllly made renovations--which they didn't finish--and the first floor windows were boarded up for safety). They were a mess & it would have taken me a decade to do it my self plus it was the end of November & freezing cold.
Pave the driveway: the driveway was concrete ribbon in very poor condition. There was a tree on the side of the driveway that had to be removed that had caused the concrete to buckle. Plus the entire back was concrete & likely once had a garage. It wasn't salvageable & made the most sense to have it dug up & replaced with asphalt. I saved a tiny bit for a yard area but as a rental the parking spots have more value (gross but true). And that tiny bit I saved because of my bleeding heart was a mistake that I still regret because it was just a mud pit after that. Shoulda paved it.
New heating system for the first floor due to being undersized. All the heating systems were newer Navien combo units. Which is great--efficient & cost effective for tenants. Except that the first floor unit kept malfunctioning. Ultimately it had to be replaced.
RISE energy audit: what a great, free!, program! They worked up a contract that totaled about $15k in work & my cost was only $3k. As a balloon-frame house, there was absolutely NO insulation & with such big units I knew the electricity & gas bills would be expensive for tenants.
Landscaping improvements: turned the small mud pit into a gravel pit; removed a front section of "lawn" that was hard to maintain & put down gravel plus a weeping cherry tree which surprisingly is still alive.
Roof replacement: I initially estimated the roof at about 15-18 years old and one layer. But after several major storms the third floor tenants contacted me about a significant leak in their unit. It was coming from the chimney flashing but the roofing company, Liberty Roof, recommended a replacement because a significant number of shingles had been removed. I could have had it repaired but the cost vs the number of years it would have added just didn't make sense. Fortunately my insurance helped me with some of the cost. I also decided that while the roofing company was at it, it was the best opportunity to remove the chimney from the roof line because I knew that eventually I would want to open the wall between the kitchen & the dining room & that was the wall with the chimney. Since the heating systems are vented outside I new it would be possible. I also knew that neither that wall, nor the chimney, was structurally supporting the house. At this time, my third floor tenants moved out, before I secured new tenants, I wanted to move forward with the renovation on the third floor. Fortunately, my second floor tenant, Al, is a skilled carpenter so I hired him to do the finish work & he was willing to live in a construction zone so we renovated both units at the same time. Eventually, I will likely also take that wall down in the first floor unit because it really makes such a difference--so much light & space! I hired a company to do the demo which took them about four days.
Al managed the carpentry work & also installed LVP flooring over the tile which came out great & I know will hold up over the years. I hired a painter to finish--it took about six weeks from start to finish.
After struggling to find a local company that would give me a quote, much less take the job, I hired Zuck Painting out of MA to paint the exterior of the house this November & they did a spectacular job! They did a fair amount of carpentry repair, scraped & sanded quite a bit, & managed 5 colors on the house. Definitely will recommend them to my clients.
Lastly, this year I took advantage of low interest rates & refinanced this property. I bought it for $311k in 2018 & it appraised in May of 2021 for $600k.
The renovations over these past 3 years in total have cost around $80k. The rents are below market rent at $1500, $1400 & $1400 but my tenants are awesome & that's priceless. This video is more for me than for anything else--it will be a good reminder of all there is to learn. So here's a quick montage with some video & hack editing---I'm good at selling houses, not editing videos. The experience of renovating this property has made me a better Realtor---more experienced at understanding the work that is needed for properties, how to work the numbers, what to expect from a timeline, and how much renovations cost (spoiler alert: a lot!). At the end of the day I knew I was buying in an area that would have a great return (on the border of the West Side of PVD) & that with units this large (each unit is identical with 3 bedrooms, double parlor, and massive open kitchen area 1500 sq ft for each). Whether I hold this property for a long time as a rental, convert units into condos down the road, or sell it as a multi (doubtful)--despite the unanticipated costs (which I now know I should have anticipated) the numbers still work.
It's fun to note that in Nov 2019 I purchased a single family home that had to be 100% gutted & so I entered into another renovation journey with many more opportunities to learn & to grow. You can see that project on instagram...I haven't yet finished that video but suppose I'll get to that once the project is completed.
Check out my other videos & subscribe to my channel. And reach out if you have any real estate related questions!
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