Looking for creative home renovations to prepare for renting with Airbnb? Whether you have an empty pool house or just a waterproof basement to rent out, Airbnb has given homeowners new, creative ways to earn extra cash.
41% of holiday travelers claim to spend more money on gifts than travel, but 43% say their biggest holiday expense is traveling itself. With people becoming more mindful of their spending than ever, many travelers search for places to stay with Airbnb instead of expensive hotels. And it’s not just a holiday thing by any means — from business travel to summer vacations, globetrotters look to Airbnb for interesting, economical places to stay that are off the beaten path.
From room setup to lawn care, here we’ll talk about what you should do to prepare your home for renting on Airbnb, including some creative home renovations you wouldn’t normally think about.
Ensure Your Guests’ Safety
Before we get into the aesthetically-inclined, creative home renovations, we should think about the practical steps that must be in place to rent out your space.
If you aren’t renting out an entire building, first you must decide what part of the home you can afford to rent out. Once you know what you’re going to offer prospective renters, you’ll need to make sure the area is set up and optimized for your visitors’ safety.
Take a slow walk through the area and watch out for anything that looks like a potential health or safety hazard. Things like exposed wiring could start a fire, and you’ll need to call the appropriate electrician service to have such things fixed. Meanwhile, damaged surfaces such as broken steps could turn out to be tripping hazards. If you expect to have guests with children, uncovered electrical outlets could be a shock hazard. There are as many potential hazards as there are homes for rent, so think critically about your space with an eye for safety.
Next you need to make sure there are functioning smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors placed where necessary. Your state or local regulations may dictate how close together these alarms should be to be legal. You should also place at least a couple of fire extinguishers around the area, especially in rooms at a high risk of fire, such as kitchens and rooms with fireplaces. Be sure to make sure the fire extinguishers are easy to find, and that they’re the right kind for each needed application. Fire extinguishers are manufactured differently for kitchen grease fires than for wood or construction fires, for example.
Finally, place a generously-supplied first aid kit somewhere that it can be easily found. You’ll also want to leave your email address and phone number in a prominent place, such as on the refrigerator. As a side note, you might also want to write your phone number on a keychain tag to give to your guests during their stay.
Safeguard Any Valuables
If you’re renting out a section of your main home or apartment, it probably has many valuables lying around. If you’re looking at your great-grandmother’s rug on the floor and thinking of getting antique rug restoration before renting out the room, think again — antiques and family heirlooms are not appropriate forms of decoration when you’re renting to strangers. Fine china, old wood furniture, firearms, framed photographs, and mementos should all be carefully extracted from the space you’re renting out before you begin advertising it. It goes without saying that personal documents, such as birth certificates and passports, as well as financial papers like bank statements, should all be kept well away from anywhere guests will be staying.
If you’re going to be living in the same building with your guests, it’s acceptable to keep these valuables locked up in your private living space or bedroom. Better yet, for documents and items that are truly irreplaceable, you should consider renting a bank safe deposit box while you’re having guests. If you have a lot of valuable or delicate furniture in the room you want to rent out, you might want to rent off-site storage units to keep them safely stowed away.
If you don’t use a locking mailbox, ensure you’re prepared to safeguard any personal mail you receive while you’re hosting guests. You can instruct the post office to hold onto your mail for you instead of delivering it to your house, or you may enlist a trusted neighbor in collecting your mail when it arrives every day. If renting out space to visitors is a long-term strategy for you, you might actually want to rent a permanent post office box.
Make Any Necessary Repairs
Remember that loose wiring and broken step we mentioned earlier? In addition to finding potential safety hazards in need of repair, you should also look out for any less dangerous, but equally inconvenient, problems in the building. You may require electrical work or residential plumbing services to have everything fixed up and ready for renting out.
You must also ensure that all appliances and devices you’re leaving for your guests function properly. It’s better not to have a television in the rental at all than to have one there that doesn’t work properly. Test things like the oven, stovetop, and microwave to make sure everything is in good working order. If appliance repair is needed, it’s better to know about it before renting.
Make it Presentable and Comfortable
As one more practical tip before we turn our attention to more creative home renovations, you’ll need to work with the rented space to make sure it’s functional, comfortable, and aesthetically pleasing for guests.
As with showing off your home to sell, the first impression starts with the state of your yard and front walk. Obviously your grass should be properly mowed, the walkway should be clean and unobstructed by things like stones or loose pavement, and your front door shouldn’t look like it’s missing paint. Beyond these basics, you may want to do some creative home renovations outdoors, such as painting the siding, removing any weeds in the yard, pressure washing the walkway, or hiring a roofing company to replace your roof if it’s getting old. You may not want to deal with landscaping or flower beds, but you could place a few flower pots around to make the place more inviting with minimal effort.
Although it should go without saying, you must clean your home or room thoroughly before renting it out. The area needs to be as clean or cleaner than a motel room, so make sure to go beyond basic vacuuming and mopping. You may not have to go all out with floor refinishing, but if there are cobwebs on the ceiling or dust on all the shelves, guests won’t feel as comfortable. You don’t want to end up with a negative review on Airbnb.
Remember to remove anything of yours before you put the place up for rent, too. It doesn’t matter how clean you think your clothes or hairbrushes are — to guests, that sort of thing feels like clutter, and makes the whole place seem dingy.
If this seems like too much hassle for renting out a room a few nights each week, you may consider charging guests a cleaning fee to offset your time investment. As long as the unit is truly clean, your visitors shouldn’t mind the extra fee.
Finally, once you’ve removed everything of yours and thoroughly cleaned the space, you will need to equip the area to make your visitors’ stay as convenient and pleasant as possible. This may be the single best way to get positive reviews and feedback on Airbnb. The following checklist offers some examples of things to leave out for guests:
- Clean linens and towels — a set of two towels, hand towels, and washcloths for each guest
- Spare blankets
- An iron and ironing board
- Pots and pans, dishes, and silverware — enough for the maximum number of guests you can host at once
- A microwave
- A coffee maker, toaster, and tea pot
- Basic ingredients and seasonings, such as sugar, salt, and butter
- Basic cleaning supplies, including hand soap, dish soap, all-purpose cleaners, carpet cleaners, bleach, and disinfectant
- Basic toiletries, such as paper towels, tissues, and toilet paper
- All necessary remotes to control the television and other devices
- Trash bags
- Pillow protectors and mattress pads, in addition to clean sheets
- Extra lightbulbs
As a side note, keep in mind that most guests you host will expect to have WiFi access to the internet. If you can’t make this available, make sure prospective guests know that before they rent from you.
While the above items or equivalents should be sufficient to make any guest’s stay comfortable, you could also consider providing any of the following non-essentials to make renting from you even more special:
- Food in the cupboard and refrigerator, such as cereal, coffee, milk, or juice
- A small library of DVDs that guests may watch on your television if they get bored with sightseeing
- Board games and playing cards
- Beach towels and chairs, if your property happens to be near a beach or pool
- Local maps and guidebooks to the area
- A hair dryer
More creative home renovations for renting might include leaving special treats for your guests to find. Things like bottles of wine, fresh fruit, chocolate, or local delicacies that you can’t find anywhere outside of your area make delightful gifts. You would be sure to spark raving reviews on your Airbnb listing.
If you end up with a long shopping list of things to stock your rental with, make sure you keep your receipts for tax purposes.
As a final thought before we list creative home renovations to consider, remember to leave detailed written instructions for your guests. You don’t want guests calling you for permission every time they have a question — or worse, failing to ask at all.
Instructions and house rules should specify:
- How to operate all remote controls
- How to access the internet
- How to use any appliances in the unit — dishwasher, washing machine, clothes dryer, stove, HVAC, and any security system
- Where to take full garbage and recycling bags
- Where to park
- How to find local grocery stores, gas stations, and top restaurants
- Whether or not smoking is allowed
- Whether or not partying is permitted
- When loud music should be turned off for the night
- Not to bother the neighbors unless there’s a serious emergency
- Any rules or suggestions regarding pets, if you’re allowing guests to bring pets
- Local emergency numbers and location of the nearest hospital
Again, it’s important to leave your contact information at the property, in addition to leaving detailed instructions and house rules.
Creative Home Renovations Ideas
Let’s be honest: maybe any room could be rented out for the right price, but not every home or apartment looks like the kind of place you’d want to spend a family vacation or romantic getaway.
Think about things you would like to see in the perfect holiday destination: pretty paint colors, coordinated kitchen appliances, comfy seating space, and perhaps a pool in the back yard.
You don’t have to go all out with expensive pool installation services to make your rental feel special. If your rental unit needs some fancying up to really meet your guests’ expectations, consider some of the following ideas for creative home renovations.
- Use molding creatively: One way to make walls and doors more appealing is by using molding to add visual interest. From crown molding to door trim and everything in between, you can create patterns and geometric shapes on otherwise plain walls. And by painting the whole display one color, you can create a style that’s laid-back as well as aesthetically interesting.
- Mix and match styles: Beautifying on a budget means defining your own style, and while that can be a challenge, you can make just about anything work given enough patience. For example, what would the living room look like if you combined rugs, curtains, and throw pillows that all feature different patters? While you should make sure there are a few consistent things to tie them all together, such as complimentary colors, adding variety in this way can make a room dramatically more cozy and inviting.
- Add unexpected color: Some particularly creative home renovations involve the use of color in spaces where neutral tones are more expected. If you have an all-white room with mostly neutral decor, adding a splash of bright pink or orange to one wall can liven up the entire place. It doesn’t have to be an entire accent wall to have this effect, either. Just painting the back-board of a bookcase with a contrasting color to the rest of the room can do the trick.
- Use surprising seating: Every home seems to have the same couch, chairs, and kitchen table. But what would it be like if you used bean bags, saucer chairs, or tall bar stools in your apartment? While you have to be careful to balance interest with functionality, this could be one low-cost way to flesh out the seating in your rental unit.
And with that, you should know everything you need to set up your home for renting out on Airbnb. From essential safety precautions to creative home renovations, the ideas on this list should help you attract guests and get five-star ratings in no time.