Acts Housing’s Essential Home Improvement Manual, 6th Edition

Scroll down this page for a step-by-step guide to home rehabilitation and maintenance for homeowners as well as a list of the City of Milwaukee’s code compliance requirements.

Presented to you by the Dominican Center and Acts Housing to help build strong and vibrant communities one family’s home at a time. Thanks to the Northwestern Mutual Foundation for supporting the publication and development of this manual.

ACTS Housing


This manual is a product of a collaboration between Acts Housing and the Dominican Center for Women, Inc. The updating and publication of the sixth edition of this manual was underwritten by the Northwestern Mutual Foundation.

Homeowners are encouraged to prioritize the work that needs to be done on their home. The manual is organized to provide an overview of the main steps necessary during a rehab, along with some resources to aid in the process.

Before you do any rehab work on your home it is important to have a Scope of Work. The Scope of Work provides an itemized list of repairs for your property that are necessary for safe occupancy. The repairs are organized into phases ranging from immediate repairs needed before you can safely occupy the property, to the final phase that allocates funds for cosmetic repairs. Acts creates a Scope of Work and Rehab Plan for families that purchase foreclosed homes through its program.

It is important to note permits required for certain types of repairs. Special attention should also be paid to achieving code compliance.

Code compliance is enforced by the City of Milwaukee’s Department of Neighborhood Services.

City inspectors are available to review open code violations and inform property owners of specific repairs needed to achieve code compliance.

Stay tuned for new, up-to-date information on home improvements!


Getting Started
  • Activate Your Utilities
  • Note the Location
  • Secure the Property
  • Clean-up and Debris Removal
Rough Rehab: Exterior
  • Foundation
  • Roof and Chimney
  • Gutters and Downspouts


Rough Rehab: Interior
  • Electrical
  • Plumbing
  • Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning
Wall Closure
  • Windows and Exterior Doors
  • Insulate Exterior Walls
  • Drywall, Taping, and Mudding
  • Prep, Prime, and Paint
Finish Rehab
  • Cabinetry
  • Floors and Carpet
  • Fixtures
  • Install Interior Doors, Woodwork, and Trim
  • Appliances
Code Compliance
  • Porches and Stairs
  • Exterior Wall Siding
  • Concrete Slabs and Service Walks
  • Common Violations
  • Paving
  • Gardens and Plantings
  • Reduce Water Seepage
  • Soil Grade
Home Maintenance
  • Spring/Summer
  • Fall/Winter
Owner Reference
  • Handy Tools for Homeowners
  • How to Select Contractors
  • Working with Volunteers
  • Tools and Materials
  • Lead Abatement
  • Available Assistance


Resources in Milwaukee

City of Milwaukee Landlord Training Program (Free)
(414) 286-2954

Milwaukee Community Insurance Information Center (Free)
Provides information and assistance to individuals in finding homeowners and renters insurance.
(414) 291-5360

Smoke Detector Hotline
See if you’re eligible for a free detector.
(414) 286-8980

Illegal Dumping
If you see dumping in your neighborhood, you could be eligible for a reward up to $1,000 if your tip leads to a conviction.

My Milwaukee Home
Ownership, property details, and local contact information for properties are available online:

Contractor Guide
  • General
  • Electrical
  • Plumbing
  • HVAC
  • Roofing, Siding, and Flashing
  • Foundations and Concrete
  • Landscaping, Debris Removal, and Parts
  • Handymen
  • Lead Abatement
  • Specialty
  • Home Inspectors
  • Miscellaneous Resources

Find discounted home improvement materials at The Community Warehouse.

Acts Housing’s mission is to promote affordable home ownership that fosters a low-income family’s ability to be self-empowered, thereby reducing community blight, neighborhood deterioration, and poverty. Acts’ strategy is to generate home ownership opportunities for inner-city residents within a targeted neighborhood so that an entire community can be transformed and sustained. Acts’ team provides home buying services throughout the city of Milwaukee.
2414 W. Vliet St., Milwaukee, WI 53205 USA 391837474