Rental Rehab Saga Part 2: Your Material List

In our last post, I shared a few lessons from our rental property search phase, including how to avoid neighboring pit bulls.
As escrows begin to close (three this week!) I spent much of the last week feverishly purchasing material. Here’s my method for balancing urgently needing product with desperately needed good pricing.
Today I will focus specifically on developing my material list.
Step 1: Build the List
The first step in purchasing is knowing what to purchase. I walk each job in detail and compile a room-by-room material list. It’s painstaking but necessary. Sure, it causes a few minor strokes when uncovering items initially missed in the initial pre-offer walk through, but all in all it’s not too bad. Upon completing the walk each of the properties has a 3-4 page list of materials.
Step 2: Excel-ize the List
Back at the ranch (ok, not the ranch, but it sounds better than “back at the office”) I transcribe my list from hand-written to Excel. Lots of cut-n-paste here folks. In fact, I have become a bit of a hot-key expert. I’m sure to enter quantities next to each item as I input; this becomes invaluable when searching the isles of Home Depot. I initially input my material list by room code, item description, quantity and approximate location in our local Home Depot. I know, sounds like overkill, but it makes shopping much easier.

Step 3: Separate the List
Once the list is in Excel, the rest is easy. I further separate the list into three catagories:
+ Buy now – this is stuff I need in the first week of rehab.
+ Buy on-line – this is stuff that can wait a week or so, can be bought in bulk, or can be bought using special sales, discounts or credit card rewards.
+ Buy wherever the heck I can find it – this is stuff that I have never bought before that has me temporarily stumped, like matching gargoyle-head cabinet door hardware.
Step 4: Print the List
I then sort and print the list as needed to make my purchases. For example, the “buy now” list gets sorted by Home Depot zone and then printed for my first trip for supplies. The “buy on-line” list gets tucked into my laptop case for those slow moments between meetings or on weekends. They “buy wherever the heck I can find it” list gets printed and procrastinated upon…
In our next post we will look at turning this list into fantastic deals!

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