Any decorating or renovation project can seem overwhelming, but it's guaranteed to go more smoothly if you know a couple of insider tricks. Here are some of decorating/renovation tips from seasoned landlords and investors:
Schedule your Renovation
Time is money. The longer you spend on renovating, the bigger the financial hit. Make a realistic plan and stick to it, but allow contingencies. If you’re planning to redecorate in-between tenancies, start decorating the day after the tenants leave, and source all the tools and supplies well before the job. If you can start before the old tenants legally vacate/surrender with their permission, even better. You’ll know what needs doing during the final inventory inspection. If you know you’re going to need outside help from professional laborers, it’s important to book their service in advance. If they’re any good, they’ll be in demand.
Apply for Council Tax Exemption
If the property will remain unfurnished and vacant during your renovation, contact your local council and apply for landlord council tax exception. You may or may not succeed, but it’s worth shoving your rotten nose in their faces and enquiring.
Use Tiles Where You Can
Use tiles over paint/laminate where possible, especially in rooms that are moist and prone to mould, like bathrooms, utility rooms and kitchens. Tiles are much more durable, resistant to infestations and easier to maintain than paint. Dark tiles with a dark grouting is always a good choice (white/light grouting can quickly become grubby looking)
Mould is a common and often serious problem in properties, especially for landlords because it comes attached with potential health risks, and you don’t want to fight that legal battle. It can also slice through paint/plaster like a knife cutting through warm butter, which means it can be extremely expensive and difficult to remove/resolve, so it’s one of those cases where prevention is definitely the best cure.
Avoid Light Paints and Carpets
Getting caught in the “Magnolia” trap is an easy thing to do. Guilty! Light colors provides the illusion of space and cleanliness, which of course is the perfect cocktail to entice prospective tenants. But the compelling illusion has an extremely short life-span, especially in BTL properties. A few months of practical living and the once-glowing shades of magnolia become gloomy and murky. It’s extremely difficult to keep light walls and carpets clean, and generally speaking, it’s work that most tenants won’t have any interest in participating in. Ultimately, applying a light color palette is a sure-fire way to exhaust your funds on frequent coats of paints and replacement carpets. Avoid it.
Mid-toned browns and grays are most practical/durable. They don’t cast too much of a shadow (especially in rooms with access to natural lighting) and they’re neutral so they go with most other colors.
Spend a Little Extra on Flooring
Floors are the biggest victim of wear and tear in any property because they receive the most physical contact, and that’s why a lot of landlords spend a little extra on thick and durable carpets that can withstand heavy treading and toxic carpet shampoos. Carpet retailers should be able to advice you on which particular carpets are suitable for BTL properties.
Gap Fill with Mastic/Filler
Don’t leave gaps unattended, especially around windows, sinks, baths, showers and cookers. Gap can manifest into all sorts of unwanted problems. Carefully and neatly apply mastic filler to conceal gaps. Unwanted gaps can lead to leaks, mould access routes for creepy crawlies and breeding grounds for infestations. On a side note, you can get anti-mould mastic/filler.
Decorate for your Target Audience
Consider what your target audience will need/want as a family. Don’t try to please several demographics, you will fail by wasting time and money. However, sticking to a neutral theme will ensure maximum appeal.
Try to keep everything neutral, so your tenants can apply their own touch. It’s a lot easier to transform a blank canvass in to a home than converting someone else’s home, and tenants will consider that when viewing your property.
Spend Money Wisely
Spend money where it needs to be spent. This lesson is usually learnt through personal experience, because most first-time landlords will spend as little as possible, no matter what anyone tells them. It’s extremely difficult to fight the urge (and many don’t). There are certain areas where it doesn’t make practical sense to cut costs because you’ll end up spending more in the long-run.
There you have it. If you have any extra tips/ideas, please share!