Exterior improvements are all about keeping the weather out, and the curb appeal. This article discusses exterior improvements you can make to your OKC rental property.

It is part of a series of articles on improvements to your OKC rental properties.  Other articles include:

Roofing

The roof in Oklahoma is a critical piece because they take so much abuse from our ever-changing weather.

  • Houses built prior to the 1960’s may have a base of wood shingles covered by newer composition (asphalt) shingles instead of decking.  If so, these roofs need to be torn off, redecked, and replaced with a new course of composite shingles. These are the most costly roof replacements because of the disposal fees and the cost of redecking the roof.
  • The steeper the pitch of the roof, the more expensive the replacement.  Replacement of a second-story roof is more expensive than replacement of a one-story roof.  Get a quote from a roofing contractor unless you are quite sure what the cost will be.
  • You don’t need a new roof for every property every time.  Replace them on an as-needed basis.
  • Sometimes a patch or partial repair will buy you some extra years before the entire roof has to be replaced.  Even a newer roof may develop leaks around things like chimneys. Perhaps it is missing a chimney cap (the cap that is supposed to cover the top of the chimney).  Other times, it may need some flashing and tar.
  • Anytime you have a flat roof or a roof that has a fairly flat pitch, consult a roofing contractor regarding the condition of the roof, and what it might take to make repairs.  They are prone to leak.  And, to replace them is more expensive than putting on a new course of shingles.  

Siding

Siding commonly used in Oklahoma includes brick, wood, vinyl, pressed board, and/or concrete board.

  • It is less expensive in the short run to repair and paint wood siding or other old siding material than to replace it with vinyl siding.  However, you’ll have to scrape, repair, and paint that siding about every 5 years or so.  Vinyl siding will generally last for the life of the home unless it’s damaged by hail.  So the vinyl siding will generally pay for itself in 10 to 15 years.  
  • If the siding is pressed board, like masonite, that has begun to fall apart, the crumbling pieces must be replaced.  Once they absorb water, they are ruined and cannot be repaired. Pressed board in an inferior material, and should not be used except for repair.  
  • Brick is the most desirable siding because it needs the least amount of maintenance.  Just because a brick house has cracks in the bricking or bulges in the walls doesn’t automatically mean there is a foundation problem.

Garage and Outbuildings

  • If the house has a falling-over garage, make sure you include the cost of demolition and haul off in your estimate.  Always get an estimate for that work, because it may be more costly than you think.
  • Repair garages if at all possible.  If you don’t have a garage, you will need some type of out building for storage, unless the property is a multi-family unit and you plan to take care of the yard maintenance.

Exterior Doors and Windows

Once wood-framed windows begin to deteriorate, it’s best to replace them with new double-pane windows.

Older frame houses often have too many windows. For example, some bedrooms might have 5 or 6 of the old wood-frame windows. It makes good sense to eliminate unneeded drafty windows. Five or six windows can become one or two windows, and not be any less functional by losing those windows.

The same holds for exterior doors…You only need two of them. Eliminate extra doors (that will also result in fewer doors that you need to maintain and weatherize).

When you install a window unit air conditioner in a window just by lifting up the window, it creates a lot of pathways to outside air. Many times, it’s better to eliminate the window where you plan to install the window unit. Frame it so you can install a window unit instead of just lifting the window to install it.

Look for daylight around doors. Eliminate those cracks with weather-stripping.

Drainage

Climate change is upon us.  Springtime and summer in the Oklahoma now brings much more rain in shorter periods of time than in past years.  That’s why its especially important to pay attention drainage when you purchase a property.

Verify that’s it’s not in a flood zone.  Check the property condition disclosure form.  There are some questions about the flood zone status.  And, if the property has been subject to flooding.  And if you own a property that is subject to flooding, it’s not a bad idea to sell the property.  Let it be someone else’s problem.

Landscaping

Your goal as a landlord should be to pay as little out of pocket for landscaping as possible.  That’s why you shouldn’t go hog wild buying plants, etc. for the flower beds.

If you own a duplex or other type of apartment property, you are likely going to have to pay for cutting the lawn.  You won’t have to cut the lawn if it’s a single family home.

Be aware of tree issues.  Keep limbs trimmed as they grown close the roof line in order to avoid damage to the roof.  If tries die, cut them down before they fall down on their own accord and cause lots of damage.

Parking

If you don’t have parking at your unit, it’s going to present some problems.  For example, one of our owners had a 2-unit property.  The problem is that the driveway wasn’t wide enough to allow cars to get to the back yard.  Therefore, parking was confined to the street.  That made the unit much harder to rent.

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