Indy Duplex #3 – from run down to rent ready

by The Darwinian Doctor

Today’s post is about our 3rd duplex in Indianapolis. It was run down with a bunch of hidden problems, but it’s finally rent ready! Read about its journey below!

As I described in Anno Darwinii 1.0, I went on a buying spree in July and picked up three more duplexes in Indianapolis.  This added to our first duplex that I highlighted recently as our “proof of concept” of the BRRRR method of real estate investing. Duplex #2 was highlighted in Anno Darwinii 1.25, where we talked about some of the truly insane challenges we’ve had with its renovation and stabilization.

My portfolio has gotten large enough that I won’t be able to give a full account of all the properties in each edition of Anno Darwinii. So I’ll highlight specific properties with individual posts from now on.

Indy Duplex #3

Pretty cute exterior (at first glance)

Indy duplex #3 is just a couple of blocks away from my first Indy duplex, but that’s where the similarities end. If I had to guess, I’d say that Indy duplex #3 started its life as a single family home, but has since been converted into a lopsided duplex. (By lopsided, I just mean that the unit mix is different from one side to the other.)

The unit on the right had one bathroom on the first floor and 3 bedrooms in the converted attic. The unit on the left also had a ground floor bathroom, but only one bedroom on the second floor.

I secured this duplex for a fairly low price for the neighborhood, but there were a lot of reasons it only cost $123,000.


First of all, the exterior was in rough shape. Here are some photos to get a general sense of the exterior issues.

When I crunched the numbers before agreeing to purchase the property, I accounted for new gutters, exterior paint, and siding repairs. The sellers agreed to replace the roof through their insurance policy, which made the deal more attractive. I projected that it would take about $80k – $100k to get the property rent ready.

But even armed with an inspection, we found a lot more issues after we closed on the property.

Rotted subflooring

There was a ton of wear and tear on the inside of the property, which I fully expected. The former tenants had been there for almost a decade at a very low rental rate. It was so low that I doubt the owner was incentivized to maintain the property very much.

But the bathrooms were in especially bad shape. Once we ripped up the old tubs, we found significant water damage. I’d already planned to completely restore the bathrooms, but I had to pony up another few thousand dollars to reinforce the rotted subfloor as well.

Foundation headaches

The other surprise was the the foundation. I knew from the initial inspection that the foundation was not great. Some floors on the inside were visibly slanted in some areas and the 100 year old foundation was bowed inwards in some sections.

We got an estimate from a foundation specialist, who said that he could pin and brace the foundation walls for about $8000. I plugged $10,000 into my calculations and moved on.

But after the purchase, we discovered after a $1000 survey that the anchor pins would cross over the property line about 4 feet into the neighbor’s land.

After weeks of back and forth, we decided the only solution was a much more expensive option. Instead of just pinning the foundation, we’re replacing and rebracing large sections of it for a whopping $18,000.

Before and After

After all the extra surprises from this duplex, I’m especially happy that this renovation project is coming to a close. Here are some pictures of the interior that show you what it took to get it to rent ready status.


We replaced the sinks, toilets, and vanities, and tiled in the shower enclosures.


We opened up the kitchen into the dining room, replaced the cabinetry and appliances, and added granite countertops.


We painted the walls and replaced the carpeting with luxury vinyl plank flooring.


After all the interior renovations, we gave the exterior a full face lift with repaired siding and a fresh coat of paint on the siding, doors, and trim. We also trimmed away overhanging trees, removed bushes, and added central air.

After almost five months, it’s finally rent ready!

I have yet to run the final numbers on this renovation, but I’m pretty certain it ran over budget about $15-20k. But I learned some valuable experience about foundation problems, and now have a cute duplex in the middle of an up and coming neighborhood.

There are two more pieces of info needed before I can project a return on my investment. First, I need to know what the property will appraise for in the refinance. Next, I need to know the rent that I’ll be able to get for each side.

As soon as I have this information, I’ll write up a financial analysis and first year projection.

Until then, I hope you all have a happy holiday week!


Have you ever run into unexpected problems in a house renovation? Comment below and subscribe for more posts on my real estate empire!

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Veronica Solorio
Veronica Solorio
3 years ago

It is very cute! Congratulations on another property. I am hoping to start the SRMD course you did when registration for the waitlist opens in March. In the meantime I am trying to narrow my city/neighborhood options and practice running numbers. I currently live in Houston. Unfortunately it does not seem to have as great of a CoC return as I had hoped. Indianapolis looks more hopeful. Wondering if you have any recommendations on neighborhoods and realtors. We probably won’t be ready to buy until second half of the year but I’m trying to keep up the momentum and education. Thanks so much!

Veronica Solorio
Veronica Solorio
3 years ago

Thanks so much! Seeing you work full time as a surgeon and do this is very inspiring. I’m an ER doctor and while the pandemic has taken a toll, I have no real excuses! Looking forward to following in your footsteps.

Jared Seitz
1 year ago

Amazing photos. I work on gutter systems for a living and i have to say those exterior pictures all tell a story of neglect and lack of proper Maintenace within the gutter system. The green algae and cracking on the third exterior picture there is a clear indication that there was clog above this area for a long period of time water overflowing to this area possible even standing for a period of time.

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