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Owning investment properties in Chicago is a great business to be in. Demand for rentals is high, and the inclination to do repairs and implement upgrades on your properties is understandably strong. Marketing the best property on the block takes work, and for some landlords, that has meant doing what some might call “cheat” upgrades. Cheat upgrades can simply be defined as work that seems like it will save time or money at the outset. However, these projects end up costing more and taking much more time to fix than they would have taken to do the job the “right” way the first time around.

With that in mind, we at Blue Collar want to help make sure our investors don’t make these mistakes! After all, it’s our goal to make your life easier, not more complicated. When it comes to upgrades and new finishings in your Chicago investment properties, here are five big ones you’ll want to avoid cutting corners on. Save yourself time, money, and frustration and get the job done properly the first go around—you’ll be glad you did.

1) Painting Over Wallpaper

DIY painting jobs are a great way to save money on updating properties, but one way you can cause more work for yourself is by painting over wallpaper. While some sites around the internet suggest there’s nothing wrong with this method, the truth is that sooner or later, that wallpaper is going to start peeling, and in addition to the seams of the wallpaper showing through the paint, you’ll then have to worry about what to do with the peeling paper. This can lead to a project that involves not only having to take down the wallpaper (usually with special tools to protect the underlying drywall), but having to sand the walls and repaint.

It’s best, if you don’t like the wallpaper in a property, to get rid of it before ever picking up a paint roller.

2) DIY Kitchen Renovations

Plenty of property owners attempt do-it-yourself kitchen upgrades with great success, but oftentimes, that can be attributed to luck. Attempting to hang cabinets on your own or purchasing pre-made sets of kitchen fixtures from big-box or hardware stores can save you some money, but if you wind up with a sloped or un-level cabinet or counter, or worse—a set of cabinets that don’t quite fit or work well with the space you have, and you have to start all over. Unless you’ve got considerable experience renovating kitchens, this is an upgrade that should be left to the pros.

3) Using an Overlay Coating to Fix Bad Concrete

Concrete floors and walkways can be a stylish option in modern buildings, especially ones with open-concept or loft-like styling. Whether they’re outdoors or indoors, concrete bases must be in great condition in order to benefit from decorative overlays. If the concrete at your building has any damage–cracks, chips, dings, or other problems, it can be tempting to simply install a concrete overlay system to cover up the problems, but you’ll quickly learn that that’s all it will be doing—covering up, not fixing, the problems.


Overlays are only as good as the base they go over. They are not meant to fix concrete that is in bad shape, and if you pour an overlay onto cracked or damaged concrete, you’ll merely end up with a cracked and damaged-looking overlay that you’ll then need to fix even further. That project will be much more labor intensive than it would be had the concrete been fixed before pouring an overlay.


4) Installing In-Unit Laundry Machines Without Proper Plumbing Help

A value-adding upgrade for rental investment properties in Chicago and many other cities is adding laundry machines to each unit. In-unit laundry is an amenity that can net you a significant amount more rent, especially if you’re renting to young families with kids—renters that need to do a lot of laundry. However, unless you’ve got plumbing expertise, this can be a job that can cause more damage that is expensive to repair. For instance, washing machines can leak to lower floors, and ventilation can be lacking, which can lead to mold growth on walls, in ceilings, and elsewhere. Mold can be an expensive problem to fix, and since it’s very preventable, it’s to your benefit to hire professionals to help install laundry machines.

5)  Replacing Interior Flooring On Your Own

Whether you’re installing tiling, vinyl flooring, hardwood floors, or laminate, you should enlist the help of a professional to do this job. Doing it yourself can seem like a great way to get the job done faster and more cheaply, but measuring mishaps, technique slips, and more missteps can lead to ruined materials, wasted time, and a huge headache. Plus, if these problems arise, you’ll end up hiring a professional to backtrack and finish the job. Instead of risking damage to costly materials and wasting a lot of effort, it’s best to consult with professional flooring contractors.

Getting Help from a Rental Property Maintenance Company

Whether you’re gearing up to buy a new investment property, you just did, or you have a list of buildings you want some assistance with, a Chicago rental property maintenance company can be a great help. Here at Blue Collar, we know that investment property maintenance is a full time job, but it doesn’t have to be YOUR full time job. If you’re tired of spending too much time dealing with maintenance requests, finding reliable vendors, and juggling the logistic of scheduling service calls, contact us today. We’re ready to help!

Contact us today to learn more about the ways we help investors in Chicago.

Team Blue Collar

Author Team Blue Collar

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