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5 home improvements make good roommates

Jennifer Noonan | Improvement Center Columnist | December 21, 2016

roommate home improvements

Renting a room, or a portion of your home, can be a financially fruitful endeavor. But a healthy roommate relationship, like any other, takes work. There are some things you can do, both in setting expectations and in setting up your home, that can help make cohabiting a win-win for everyone. You should absolutely treat it like a business, and use a professional renter's applications, background check, and lease agreement. This will ensure that you clearly set up expectations with regard to rent payment, shared space, responsibility for utilities, and house rules.

Be sure to also invest in some work to make your home more comfortable to share. These 5 home improvements may help.

1. Hang a door

Your roommate tenant has the right to privacy. If you are renting a portion of your home (such as an entire level, or suite of rooms) it may be worthwhile to install a door between that space and your own, if one does not already exist. Add a lock on that door, or put one on the door of any single room inside your home that you rent. Your roommate can then feel comfortable knowing his or her belongings are secure, and can enjoy privacy.

2. Install a tankless water heater

When you share your home with a roommate, you also usually share utilities. That's double (or more) the showers, loads of laundry, and dishwasher cycles. Be sure your utility systems can handle the demand. Never run out of hot water by installing a tankless water heater. If the size is right, you can run the dishwasher, washing machine, and have two people taking showers at the same time.

3. Make room in the kitchen

Your roommate agreement should make it clear which spaces and items are shared, and which are not. The kitchen is a high traffic area, and if you both cook, you should make some extra space that can be dedicated to your roommate's own food and cooking equipment (if they bring any). Clear a cabinet for them to store things, or hang an extra cabinet, if space permits. A little extra counter space can go a long way toward giving everyone extra elbow room for cooking. So, consider installing a kitchen island, or adding a section of base cabinets with counters, if your footprint allows.

4. Expand the driveway

Depending on where you live, you may or may not have ample off-street parking. You don't want to have to wake your roommate early in the morning because they've blocked you into the drive. Consider expanding your driveway to accommodate 2 cars side-by-side. Or, go a step farther, and clear out a space in the garage so you can both pull in when winter weather arrives.

5. Add Storage

A roommate doesn't come alone. They bring all their stuff with them, and that stuff needs a place to live, too. Do yourself a favor and re-organize what storage space you have, and consider adding more. Building a closet is a fairly inexpensive and basic home project, that can pay big dividends in mutual goodwill.

The time and money you spend upfront on some roommate-friendly home improvements, might pay off big-time in helping you maintain a happy shared home.