Renovation Journal – Bachelor Unit Upgrade

Do you think 2 and 3-bedroom units are the only way to go? Think again! This small bachelor unit is one of our most popular rental units plus it has the best small space layout I’ve ever seen. Let me show you how this cute unit transformed from tired, dingy and dated to bright, cheerful, and renovated.

When we bought the property in 2015, the bachelor unit was rented by a Ph.D. student who paid $550/month all inclusive. We knew the unit had a great layout and amazing potential, but it was showing its age with stained carpeting, poor lighting, kitchen cupboards that refused to stay closed, and the smallest bathtub I’ve ever seen.

Before the renovations

As you can see it needed a little help…

Even before our tenant gave notice, I already had design plans drafted for this small space. Once our tenant graduated with her Ph.D., we knew it was only a matter of time before she’d be off on a new adventure. I wanted to be ready to swoop in with our contractors and tools as soon as she’d handed over the keys.

As you may already know, designing for a renovation is my favourite part of the process. I love seeing the finished unit in my head and thrive on bringing my vision to reality. From the beginning, my focus for this bachelor unit was clean lines while maintaining the historical charm, bright colours to give the illusion of space, and maximizing every square inch of storage.

We knew the unit required some key updates including:

  • Upgrading the knob and tube wiring and adding electrical outlets which were sorely lacking
  • Replacing the existing wood bathroom and living room windows, both of which didn’t open
  • Removing plaster in the bathroom to insulate, drywall, and provide additional soundproofing between the units
  • Removing the drop ceiling in the living room and possibly raising the ceiling back up to it’s original 10′ height if possible
  • Starting fresh with a new kitchen and custom bathroom shower
  • Installing all new laminate flooring throughout the unit

In old houses you never know what you will find when you start opening up walls, so we added a solid contingency to our estimates. Our total budget for the renovation was $15,000-18,000.

Let the renovations begin.

Ugly green asbestos tiles
9″x 9″ Asbestos Tiles

Suprise! We didn’t get past renovation Day One before we needed to use the contingency amount in our budget. Do you see the lovely green tiles we found under the stained carpet? They were the dreaded 9″ x 9″ asbestos tiles— yep by Day Two we were waiting for the abatement quote.

Luckily the asbestos was only found in the floor tiles of the foyer and living/bedroom area. Unfortunately, the remediation put a large dent in our contingency and we had barely started.

Fortunately those tiles were the only big surprise we didn’t account for. Two months later we were wrapping up the renovations on our little bachelor gem. Like any renovation, we had some ups and downs along the way…

Bamboo flooring install

I found an amazing deal on bamboo flooring so we upgraded from our original laminate flooring choice and saved money in the process.
Custom trim provides a coffered look on the ceiling

The drop ceiling in the living room hid wiring and HVAC for the unit above, so we opted to keep the drop ceiling, soundproof it and add some extra character with custom ceiling trim.
Original vintage sink alongside a new custom glass-enclosed shower

After a little cleanup our original, vintage bathroom sink was in perfect condition and the best fit for the space.

The best part about our bachelor renovation? The amazing response we received from tenant applicants. The unit was posted just as we finished the renovations and we had a line up out the door. With it’s close proximity to the university and practical layout with plenty of storage, this unit is our easiest rental to find tenants for.

All that hard work pays off… I promise!

Take a tour of this beautiful bachelor unit after our renovations:

So like every investor you I’m sure you want to know the results. We completed the renovation in just over two months for approximately $18,000. We rented it immediately to a young professional newly out of university for $775 plus hydro. That’s an increase of 41% not including the transfer of hydro to the tenant!

As for our property ROI, we’ve done other work on this property so our total of the renovations two units plus some exterior renovations is approximately $35,000. We refinanced the property four months after the bachelor renovation was completed. The result? A cash-out refinance of approximately $80,000. Proof it’s worth the sweat equity. Now onto the next reno!

We’d love to hear what you think of this renovation. Comment and share your thoughts and visit our other blog posts to see more renovations.

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