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Property Refurbishments in London: Best Advice for Landlords

Flex Living provides free property refurbishment services for all our landlords.
Alice
Alice

Author

As it becomes increasingly difficult for landlords to generate higher profits on their buy-to-let properties, many opt for the ‘renovate to rent’ alternative. Investing in property refurbishment will not only add value to your property but also improve rentability and increase your overall rental income while reducing future maintenance costs. For a guide on how to redecorate your property in line with the latest styles. At Flex Living, we provide more than the basic residence property management services; we refurbish properties in London every day! So here are our top tips for landlords on how property refurbishment works and who you can use to help.

In this article, we are going to discuss :

Before You Refurbish

Pre-construction: The design phase

Before commencing your property refurbishment, you need to think about design. What changes do you want to make? For which rooms in the house do you need to make plans? What is the overall style or trend you’re envisioning? 

A clearly defined design plan is essential because it assigns an appropriate budget and time schedule to your project so your vision is translated smoothly into reality. You probably won’t have the liberty to change your mind on a design once everything’s been installed (or even half installed), so it’s important to know what you want from the start. If you have already done your design research and have a solid vision for your renovated property, you can skip this section. 

If you need inspiration or help designing the changes in your property, we recommend using Check-a-trade or Task Rabbit to search for affordable, high-quality designers in your area and compare prices and reviews.

Alternatively, our residence property management experts at Flex Living recommend the following design companies: 

  • My Bespoke Room – Match you with a designer best suited to your style, budget and lifestyle. You can then shop your chosen ‘design’ with a free personal shopper who handles all the ordering for you.
  • Homewings – Offer interior design and space planning services from visualising the design to furniture selection. 
  • Perring Design – With over 30 years of creative design experience, Perring provides competitively priced bespoke furniture packages, designed specifically for the London rental market.
  • Furnish By Shoreline – Help in the curation and design of your dream furnished space, strategically selecting a balanced combination of hard and soft furnishings to complement the room.
  • KLC School of Design – If you want to save money, you could consider getting in contact with KLC design school to ask if any of their students are interested in completing their design projects in your home. Alternatively, you can check out the list of Alumni websites for other design services.

Note: while most builders and kitchen fitters will have their own designs available for you to use, they may not be the most up-to-date with current style and trends.

a furbished bedroom near a massive glass window

What Are the Main Types of Property Refurbishment?

Property renovations range from basic repairs (e.g., solid floors and walls) to ‘curb appeal’, which focuses on the property’s aesthetic attractiveness (e.g., freshly painted doors and new exterior fixtures). There are countless London refurbishment companies that specialise in decorating and renovating various aspects of your property, from kitchens and bathrooms to gardens and extensions.

1. Kitchens

The kitchen is one of the most important spaces in the home. It’s where many people start and end their days; it is a hub for socialising and get-togethers. A good kitchen upgrade can add thousands to your property’s value.

Elements you may need to consider when revamping your kitchen include:

  • Removal of old kitchen
  • Repairs
  • Adding worktops
  • Tiling
  • Flooring
  • Electricity and gas
  • New appliances
  • Fitting costs

If you’re working with a budget, check which kitchen elements need complete replacing and which you can just fix. For instance, refacing cabinets costs around 40% less than the cost of replacing them.

Best property renovation companies for kitchen refurbishment: 

  • London Refurbishment Company – Provides an affordable, high-quality kitchen refurbishment service in London. They have added financial value to properties and increased rental yield with modern kitchen fittings and bespoke designs.
  • PB Builder – Specialises in various renovations from simple furniture replacement and painting to new functional layouts with upgraded flooring.
  • Magnet Kitchens – Kitchen design specialists who not only help with the design of your dream kitchen, but also offer installation services (or can help you find an independent fitter if you want to use your own).
  • Howdens – Offer a free kitchen visualiser and a kitchen design service to help convert your ideas into a tangible plan. Howdens can provide you with a tradesperson to install your kitchen for an additional fee. 
  • Light Kitchens – Provide complete kitchen rebuilds from scratch, and makeovers that cost 50% less than brand new kitchens. These ‘makeovers’ include new doors, accessories and appliances.

To compare prices and find the best kitchen renovator in your local area, you can use Check-a-trade or Taskrabbit.

Average cost of kitchen renovation in the UK: £10,300

2. Bathrooms

An upgraded bathroom adds significant value to your property and provides long-term financial benefits. With countless energy-saving installations now available (such as energy-efficient shower heads and electric towel rails), modernising the technology and functionality of your bathroom can lower energy costs and help you save money in the long run.

If you want to restructure your bathroom layout but don’t know where to start, take a look at Fifi McGee’s ultimate guide to planning a bathroom layout.

Best property renovation companies for bathroom refurbishment:

  • The London Bath Co – Specialise in bathroom design and installations. A team member will work with you to explore your preferred design and bring it to life, from ordering the products to installing them with minimal disruption.
  • Red Box London – Make upgrading and remodelling a bathroom as easy as possible. They manage the entire renovation process, whether it’s simple installations or full-scale renovations.
  • New Line Construction Ltd – Provide complete bathroom renovation services from bathroom design and fitting to plumbing and tiling. 
  • Divine Touch Building – Specialise in a range of projects from tiling and bathroom renovations to extensions; they have developed an extensive network of specialist tradesmen.

If you need something more tailored to your needs, the most cost effective platforms for finding low-cost, good-quality companies or independent tradesmen include Check-a-trade and Taskrabbit.

Average cost of a bathroom renovation in the UK: £5,000

a fully furbished bathroom with a bathtub

3. Redecoration

Decorating a rental property means changing the interior design. This might include repainting walls, adding wallpaper, installing a feature wall or mounting some artwork. In most cases, redecorating is only an aesthetic remodelling; it does not involve more extensive construction projects (such as knocking down walls). Therefore, it is one of the more cost-effective ways to increase your property’s value.

Bear in mind that you may be charged extra for painting and decorating if you have damp walls or stained ceilings that need treating before painting, or if you discover your walls need replastering. At Flex Living, our property management services include free maintenance callouts, so you won’t be charged for us to come and diagnose a problem, unlike other repair companies that can charge you hundreds of pounds on the initial callout.  

Best property renovation companies for painting and redecorating:

  • Novitas Decorators – Award-winning painters and redecorators in London specialising in paint spraying, hand-painted kitchens and wallpapers
  • DecorWise – With 40 years of experience in painting and decorating, DecorWise delivers beautiful residential decorating services across London.
  • Terry Parker Painting & Decorating Services – With over 25 years experience, Terry Parker provides a high quality painting service with only the best products. Quotations are free.
  • BL Painting & Decorating Ltd – Specialised in all types of residential and commercial painting and decorating. Free estimates and competitive prices
  • Flex Living – Offers all-inclusive property upscaling with new wall painting and artwork when renting out your property through their corporate let model.

Again, we recommend checking Check-a-trade and Taskrabbit for low-cost, high-quality companies or tradesmen that specialise in exactly what you’re looking for. On both sites, you can filter for painting, wall murals, interior design, wallpapering and more. You can also compare the rating of different taskers.  

Average cost of redecoration in the UK: £1500 – £2000 (2-bedroom flat/house)

4. Hard and Soft Furnishings

Pre-furnishing your home will open your property to a larger pool of interested tenants. Whether it’s because of convenience or a love for all things aesthetic, people enjoy walking into a pre-designed and pre-furnished space. If you’re furnishing your first property from scratch, it can be quite expensive. At the very least, you’ll need to buy beds, couches, cabinets and wardrobes. If you want to go above and beyond, you might need additional products like TV, rugs and mirrors. Depending on what you buy, how big your property is and how budget-friendly you’re willing to go with furnishings, revamping your property could range between £2,000 and £15,000.

When furnishing your property, you’ll need both hard and soft furnishings:

Hard furnishingsSoft furnishings
- Dining table
- Chairs
- Sofa-sets
- Television
- Fridge
- Cabinetry
- Dish towels
- Shower curtains
- Mattresses/mattress toppers
- Blankets
- Pillowcases
- Curtains

For a full list of estimated costs of bespoke furnishings, check out this Full Money Saving Guide for 2022. MyDomaine also has a great guide on where you should spend and where you should save when furnishing your property from scratch.

Best companies for furnishings:

  • Wayfair – for furniture, wardrobes, side lamps, bedding and more. Also has a ‘shop by room’ feature.
  • Desenio – for budget-friendly artwork and prints.
  • Ikea – low-cost furniture, bedding, lighting and kitchen accessories. May not be ‘premium’ but is good for basics.
  • Amazon – search for a broad array of products from furniture co cutlery. Quick delivery available but doesn’t always have the most competitive prices.
  • Wilko –  Great for affordable small furnishings from kitchenware to cushions and lighting (also try: B&M).
  • Dunelm – Has a range of products from furniture, bedding and lighting to paints for DIY projects.
  • Homesense – A slightly higher-end alternative to Dunelm offering quality kitchenware and furniture. 
  • Argos – Great for technology and appliances from TVs to coffee machines as well as bedding and furniture (quick home delivery).
  • Habitat – Higher end but affordable furnishings ranging from bed frames and coffee tables to rugs and cushions.

Average cost of furnishings in the UK: £2,000 – £15,000 (subjective)

5. Landscaping

Undertaking a landscape renovation can be a colossal task. Before doing any work, decide if you need a complete redesign or just some work to add/remove certain landscape elements. Before commencing with a landscape renovation, you need to determine if you will do the renovation yourself or hire a contractor (or a mix of both). You also need to decide what time of year/season you will complete the renovation (as the weather may impact what plants will thrive). 

Best property renovation companies for landscape renovation:

  • FMN gardens – Qualified landscape gardeners offer professional garden design and landscaping services in London (select areas). The landscaping services range from artworks and murals to water features and garden lighting.
  • Wicked Gardens – Deliver affordable and professional garden design and landscaping services for residential properties in London, including planting, living walls and artificial or natural lawns.
  • Garden Builders – Specialise in landscape renovations for a range of outdoor spaces from small gardens to roof gardens.

 Average cost of garden renovation in the UK: £10,000

6. Extensions and Loft Conversions

Adding an extension to your property can significantly increase its value. Ensure you make a detailed plan and obtain all permissions before proceeding with the renovation. You will need to seek planning permission if:

  • You are extending towards a road
  • You are increasing the building’s overall height
  • You plan on building a balcony or raised veranda
  • The extension covers half the land area around your property
  • The building is a listed property
  • Your extension overlooks into neighbours’ windows

You must comply with regulations when building an extension. If you are unsure about what you can or cannot do, you can consult your Local Planning Authority.

People you will want to hire:

  • A planning consultant 
  • An architect or designer 
  • A builder

We recommend using Checkatrade, MyBuilder or Task Rabbit to find these specialists in your area.

Remember: It’s extremely important to check the work being done before, during and after the project (and before you make any payment). Simply checking on the project as it progresses can avoid expensive mistakes. Our residence property management experts at Flex Living have seen everything from kitchen cabinets painted the wrong colour to incorrectly installed heating systems. 

Average cost of an extension in the UK:

  • Small (20m2) = £42,750
  • Medium (30m2) = £64,125
  • Large (50m2) = £106,875

Don’t Make These Property Refurbishment Mistakes

If you’re renovating a buy-to-let property for the first time, take heed of these common mistakes.

a. Don’t let personal taste seep in 

We understand the attachment you might have to your property; some landlords are so attached they get carried away with making it look exactly the way they want it (with minimal consideration of how someone else might want it). It’s important to remember that your personal preferences likely differ from many prospective tenants. So, try not to waste your money and keep the space as neutral as possible.

 b. Don’t ignore issues with dampness and mould

Damp or mouldy properties increase inhabitants’ risk of respiratory infections, allergic reactions and asthma, so it’s important you discover the root cause and deal with these issues sooner rather than later – you don’t want your tenants to be living in an unsafe environment.

If you do not address dampness and mould in your property when first noticed, you may have to evict your tenants later down the track while doing repair work. This could leave you missing out on months of rent in addition to the costly repair fees.

When doing renovations, do not neglect to check and fix the following:

  • A leaky roof – check for musty odours, water stains on ceiling, spots on exterior walls and protruding patches on interior walls
  • Faulty guttering – check for overflowing water after rain, cracked or rusty gutters
  • Cracks in external walls – could be indicative of water damage
  • Internal leaks – check for discolouration on ceilings, walls or floors and noises coming from the plumbing system
  • Plumbing problems – check for dripping and leaking, rattling sounds, drain smells and rusty pipes (it may be a good idea to enlist the help of a professional to check).

 c. To go light or not?

Many landlords opt for light colours because of the illusion of cleanliness and openness they offer. However, light walls, floors and furnishings are  dirtied far more quickly than other mid-toned or darker colours. Therefore, to keep the lighter colours in your space, ensure you use higher resilience paints (such as Duration paint) that are more resistant to scratches, dirt and peeling in high traffic areas like hallways, kitchens and bathrooms. You might also consider using light colours such as off-white, light greys or bieges instead of white to maintain the bright, airy feel while reducing the work you have to do to keep it clean. 

d. Don’t skimp on planning 

Property refurbishments are an expensive venture; you don’t want to finish and be unhappy with the results. Enlisting the help of an expert designer or architect will help the entire project run smoothly according to your budget and your vision. While you might not want to pay for an additional expense that doesn’t seem compulsory, you’ll most likely only pay around 10% of the total renovation cost for a planner.

a cozy living room with two big frames and sofa

Factors Affecting Renovation Cost

Costs will vary depending on:

The two biggest factors affecting renovation costs are:

1. Materials and;

2. Labour 

Labour can be one of the biggest expenses when completing renovations. Some tradesmen can charge bucket loads of money for a service using less expensive materials. As such, labour is one of the biggest areas you can save on costs.

However, when trying to save on labour, be wary of employing someone who:

  • Offers a price that is too good to be true
  • Doesn’t provide a schedule of works detailing prices 
  • Has negative reviews

Making these mistakes could cost you more in the long run if you have to go back and fix shoddy jobs.

Materials are also one of the biggest costs involved in renovations. Unfortunately, with inflation and soaring shipping costs, it can be hard to achieve savings in this area of property refurbishment. We recommend buying materials yourself before hiring a professional to do the rest of the work (many builders charge a premium for sourcing materials). Ensure you do your research and ask around for advice though – buying the wrong materials will put you significantly out of pocket!

Cost-Effective Alternatives For Property Refurbishment

Renovating your property can be expensive. Are there any alternatives that won’t break the bank?

 a. DIY Painting

Painting the walls of your property is a DIY and budget-friendly way to aesthetically transform a space. Architectural Digest wrote an informative article on the best steps you can take when painting rooms inside your property.

If you don’t feel you’ve got an inkling of artistic touch, you could save money by hiring an individual rather than a company. Make sure you agree to paying a fixed cost (rather than by the hour) and only pay once the job is completed. 

b. Opt for the industrialised design

One of the main factors determining how expensive your renovated property will be is what materials and finishings you use. There are certain materials that may significantly reduce final costs. For instance, birch-faced plywood and exposed brick eliminate the need for a plaster finish (which can be expensive).

 c. Buy second-hand furnishings 

‘One man’s trash is another man’s treasure’ – There are countless recycled homewares and objects available in the second-hand market, often in great condition at a low price. Not only can you furnish your property at a lower price, you get do your bit for the world by investing in a sustainable practice.

Second-hand furnishings are available at:

men refurbishing a living room of a property

d. Opt for laminate

The biggest cost in bathrooms is often the tiling, both in terms of buying the materials and paying for the time they take to install. You can make significant savings by opting for cheaper alternatives such as laminate flooring or even laminate stick on tiles. In kitchens, worktops are often one of the most costly elements. You can also use laminate surfaces here instead of granite.

e. Avoid the fancy garden features

If you want to revamp your outdoor area, avoid expensive projects like decking and water features; stick to things like plants, the lawn and decorating. There are countless low-budget, DIY garden projects that can add character and flare to your outdoor sanctuary.

f. Flex Living’s free property renovations

Our residence property management services at Flex Living offer a no extra cost upscaling and redecorating of your property so that it is suited for corporate tenants. As both designers and installers, we provide new artworks, harmonising furniture and the latest technology. You get to keep all additions and furnishings as your own. This cost-effective service is only provided to landlords who rent their property out through Flex Living’s guaranteed rent scheme.

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