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Vacation Rental Property Renovations: When It’s Time

Vacation Rental Property Renovations: When It’s Time


I consider myself very fortunate to be able to go on holidays with my family.  Hawaii is our favourite destination and just recently, we spent some time on the island of O’hau.  When we come to Hawaii, whether it be to O’hau or Maui, we always rent a condo through VRBO (Vacation Rental by Owner).  We find that being away for an extended amount of time, we would like to be able to cook the majority of our meals.  I mean, who wouldn’t want to BBQ by the beach every day?

bbq grill

The grill area at Ko Olina Beach Villas (our condo resort for the rest of our trip)

This past year, we were very fortunate to head to Hawaii for 3 weeks (how crazy is that!)   We had 1 week with our daughter and her friend, and an additional 2 weeks with our friends.  For the first week, we rented a condo right in Waikiki.

Vacation Rental Property Renovations: When It’s Time

First of all, I want to say right here that I am not a diva.  I don’t go to places and expect it to be the Taj Mahal.  I carefully research properties, read the reviews, and make a decision for my family based on the information I receive as well as the availability.

The unit we rented in Waikiki had a wonderful location.  We stayed at the Ilikai and had million dollar view.

Vacation Rental Property Renovations

The view from the lanai

The reviews that were listed on VRBO on the condo we rented were good.  Although they did say the condo was a bit dated, all comments said it was clean.  That’s a HUGE plus in my book.

When you have a rental property, especially in a location in a destination spot like O’ahu, my guess is you would want to ensure your guests have a property that is clean, nice, and fully stocked.

Vacation Rental Property Renovations: The Kitchen

The Ilikai was built in 1964 and I’m pretty sure the kitchen (cabinets) were original.  While I have no issue with original cabinets (they were obviously painted to try and update), what I did have an issue with was the smell of them.

If you open up the cupboards and they smell like an old man – it’s time to renovate. 

I’m not sure how many times the girls would hear me say, “Oh my god, these cupboards stink,” but I’m pretty sure I mentioned that every time I opened them up.  While yes the condo was clean (as clean as a 1964’s condo can be), the cupboards stank.  The smell of the cabinets transferred to the dishes.  Not only were the cabinets smelly and dated, the cutlery was most likely from the 60’s as well as many of the fork and knives were broken in some way.  Any dish, pot or pan that we used had to be washed (every time they came out of the cupboard) so we actually went and bought paper plates and plastic cutlery.  We ended up only cooking 3 meals in our condo and paid to eat out the rest of the time.  Certainly not what I or my hubby was expecting to do.

Vacation Rental Property Renovations

Here is an kitchen unit at the Ilikai that has obviously been updated.

Vacation Rental Property Renovations: The Bathroom

As you may have guessed, the bathroom was also in need of some serious refreshing.  I’m not sure when it was last updated, and by the guess of the pink tile in the shower, my guess is it has never been updated as well.  In addition to the space being ugly, I’m  pretty sure the towels were at least 20 years old as well.  Sandpaper on the skin anyone?

Vacation Rental Property Renovations Here is a bathroom in one of the the units at the Ilikai that has also been updated.

Vacation Rental Property Renovations: Tips

I look at vacation rental properties much like I do properties that are getting ready to sell.  What are the 2 top rooms to focus on?

  • kitchen
  • bathroom(s)

These are rooms that garner the most attention.  The same holds true with vacation rental properties.  I did a little math regarding the dated unit we rented.  The kitchen would need the following:

  • 4-5 new upper cabinets
  • 4 base cabinets
  • all new appliances (fridge, stove, OTR microwave)
  • new counters
  • new sink and faucet

The bathroom would need the following:

  • all new shower tile (no reconfiguration needed)
  • new vanity
  • new sink and faucet
  • new counter

The unit itself could use:

  • all new bedding and linens
  • new sofa (pull out)
  • new kitchen table (unless the counter had an eating area)
  • new flooring (and I wouldn’t have a stitch of carpet)
  • and of course, new paint

In tallying this up, this condo could easily go for a $7000-9000 renovation for the entire place.  Just think, instead of charging $220 per night, you could easily charge $290 + per night (and yes, I’ve looked at the comps to check this).  Not only could you quickly re-coupe your investment, my guess is you would also be able to easily rent your unit out and maximize your potential rental income.  The unit we rented is definitely not rented out as much as the fully renovated ones are.

Vacation Rental Property Renovations

A screen shot of another fully renovated unit

Oh how I would love to get my hands on the unit we stayed in to maximize it’s full potential!

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Sheri Bruneau Get It Together

Do you have a rental property that needs updating?  Do you wish to get the full potential out of your rental property?  Contact me today to discuss!

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