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How to renovate a rental property on a budget

Wed 08 Jan 2020

As a landlord, you may, for several reasons, need to renovate your rental property. You might have a property that has become tired and weather-beaten and needs a refresher, you might have a fixer-upper property that you’re looking to transform and then let out, or you may have a rental home that requires some relatively small-scale maintenance.

Equally, you may be experiencing a changeover in tenancy or a brief void period and want your rental home to look its best to appeal to new or prospective tenants. A well-maintained, freshly renovated home will, after all, be far more appealing to renters than one which has seen better days.

But how can you ensure your budget doesn’t run away from you as you seek to improve and enhance your home? And how can you box clever and renovate on the relative cheap?

Prevention is better than cure

Sometimes wholesale or part renovation will not be required if you act to nip problems that might require renovation in the bud before they escalate. So, for example, carrying out preventative maintenance to ensure that issues such as mould, damp and blocked gutters don’t develop into something deeper and more problematic is a wise and pragmatic step.

If your home is empty for a period, you or your letting agent could visit occasionally to ensure there are no issues with the condition of your home. If your home is occupied with tenants, you may want to pass on the responsibility to them of regularly checking gutters and keeping a close eye out for signs of damp and mould, or other potential issues.

Working closely with your tenants and an experienced, knowledgeable letting agent can help to keep the need for major renovation works at bay, which will be good news for your tenants, your rental home and your bank balance.

Get several quotes

If you decide upon, or need to carry out, a major renovation project which requires outside help, it’s a good idea to source multiple quotes from respected tradespeople (your letting agent will have a number of useful contacts to help you on your way) to ensure you are getting the best possible deal.

Don’t simply accept the first quote you are given, as you may be paying over the odds for the work carried out.

Prices quoted by traders for the same work can vary by hundreds of pounds in some cases, so if you fail to get a number of quotes you could be missing out on a better deal.

A top tip here is to get at least three quotes before taking any action, get recommendations from trusted sources such as your letting agent or family members and friends who have completed successful renovations, and remember that the cheapest quote doesn’t necessarily equate to the best value for money.

That’s because someone offering a really good deal could carry out shoddy or substandard work, which then takes twice as long to fix. Unfortunately, there are cowboys and chancers out there, but by carrying out due diligence and thorough research you should find it easy to avoid them.

Consider DIY

Unless you’re highly practical or happen to be an expert in a particular field – plumbing, electrics, carpentry, etc – it’s best to leave the bigger jobs to the experts as amateur attempts at major renovation works is only likely to end badly.

However, there are some smaller tasks – such as giving rooms a fresh lick of paint, putting up a shelf, tidying up the garden, and laying flooring – where you may feel more confident taking action. Naturally, a DIY approach will save you on the cost of hiring out labour, but you need to make sure you only take on what you can realistically handle.

If you are fitting out a new kitchen or bathroom, bear in mind that it might be cheaper to shop around for supplies – as buying everything from the same supplier could cost you more than buying appliances and worktops for a kitchen, for example, from several different stores.   

Go for exposed brick walls

One of the biggest interior design trends of the last decade or so has been the use in homes of exposed brick walls, which have come back into vogue of late.

The slightly unfinished look can be a cheaper alternative as you save on the labour costs required to plaster a wall.

While exposed brick walls look cool, and are likely to be appealing to young professionals and students, they aren’t suitable for all parts of the home – namely exterior walls, where effective insultation is all-important to help keep the heat in. If you are going to opt for the more unfinished, hipster look, stick to interior walls only.  

Set a budget

Fix a budget in your mind and stick to it thereafter. This might sound obvious, but it can be all too easy to get carried away – and you might end up spending much more than you wanted, or could afford, to.

Setting a strict budget will enable you to remain disciplined and structured throughout, and you can work out how much you might gain long-term from investing in a renovation now.

Here at Letting Solutions, West Lothian’s first dedicated lettings agency, we use our knowledge and expertise to guide you through the letting process. For more information about our services, please get in touch on 01506 496 006. This includes management of maintenance and repairs before, during and after the tenancy, and three monthly management inspections to help pick up on any maintenance issues that could need addressing before they get worse.

We also offer free and instant online valuations to give you an idea of how much you could be charging in rent each month.

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