Behind-the-Scene Home Improvement Projects for Your Vacation Rental

Taking steps to improve your second home can help it remain valuable and in good condition.

As you consider areas to tackle, keep in mind that a costly full renovation of the place every couple of years is rarely necessary. Tonya Bruin, CEO and founder of To Do Done – Renovations & Handyman Services, points out“A whole lot can be accomplished through targeted little maintenance projects when they catch your eye.”

Some enhancements may not be readily noticed by guests, but they are still important: they can help reduce bills, contribute to the overall value of your home, and make it a better place.

Follow these guidelines to improve your vacation rental in subtle, essential ways.

1. Think of high return potential.

A well-insulated attic will help keep warm air inside during the cooler months of the year and also retain cool air in the home when it is hot outside.

Putting fiberglass insulation in an attic costs $1,268 on average, as noted in Remodeling Magazine’s 2016 Cost vs. Value Report. The resale value for this project, however, is $1,482, which creates a return of 116.9 percent on the investment.

Other projects with a high ROI include replacing a garage door and putting in a steel entry door, according to the report.

2. Look at lighting improvements.

If you don’t already have LED light bulbs in your vacation rental, consider adding them, suggests Paul Lisanti, a salesperson at Keller Williams Edge Realty. This type of lighting can help you save significantly on electricity bills. LED light bulbs use at least 75 percent less energy and last 25 times longer than incandescent lighting, according to

Another way to boost lighting: install a motion sensor light to the front of the home, advises Lisanti. When you or guests stay at the place, there won’t be a need to leave outdoor lights on, which can further save on energy costs.

3. Tune up the walls.

“Proactively repairing drywall flaws, bumps, scratches and holes, and finishing with a primer and paint that you have on hand which matches the existing paint would be the number one item to keep a home looking fresh between tenants,” notes Bruin.

High traffic areas, such as spots near the front door and hallway, may be the first places to need patching. Also, if you are able to touch up the paint on a periodic basis, you’ll avoid the need for an entirely new paint color or project throughout the house.

4. Upgrade bedding.

“Make sure you have good quality mattresses,” advises Tom Tezak, a high-end luxury resort realtor in Maui. In addition, you’ll want beds to be in good condition and the bedding to be clean.

While maintaining solid mattresses and stain-free sheets may not be noticed immediately by guests, they will help prevent negative reviews, explains Tezak.

5. Save on air conditioning costs.

If your vacation rental is in a warm climate, consider installing a smart thermostat, like Nest. This monitor will automatically turn off the air conditioning if a door or window remains open for a certain length of time.

The modification can help you save on electricity costs, especially if you’re in an area with high energy rates, explains Tezak.

6. Have carpets deep cleaned.

With guests regularly visiting your place, the amount of traffic on the carpet can lead to an increase in dust and grime.

To avoid replacing the entire carpet, carry out a deep cleaning, advises Bruin. You may decide to have a professional freshen up the rugs once a year or more frequently, depending on the amount of carpet your vacation rental has and the number of visitors that stay in the place on an annual basis.

7. Evaluate windows.

If you find air leaking in through drafty windows, there’s good news: you may not need to put in new, expensive replacements.

Instead, consider re-caulking around the existing windows, suggests Lisanti. “This will help keep inside air inside and outside air from getting in.”

If the windows need more attention, a repairman or window restoration specialist may be able to fix broken panes, add weather stripping, and make the windows look new again.

8. Replace outdated items.

If the furniture in your living or dining room is several decades old, it may be time to replace it. The same is true for worn outdoor items, such as patio furniture and grills.

“Flat screen TV’s are a necessary upgrade for a rental,” notes Tezak. “Old TV’s imply old furniture.”

In addition, look for ways to keep the artwork in your place updated and fresh. “Faded, tired artwork is easy to fix,” explains Tezak. “Use local art that conveys the spirit of the location.”

By updating pieces, you’ll enhance the overall look of the vacation rental and have a place that feels welcoming now and in the years to come.

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