How Should I Best Manage My Property Refurbishment Projects?
How can you manage a property refurbishment or how should you manage a property refurbishment?
That's today's Question of the Day that we've been asked, from a client and there are a couple of key things to consider.
Honestly, I think it's something that is always changing.
We're still figuring it out, now, in the projects that we run.
You feel like you've got the perfect team or the perfect trades and then something slips.
They get busy or the project overruns, then diaries clash and it becomes a little bit of a balancing act, to try and make sure everything gets over the line, smoothly.
So, there's no perfect method, that we have found, that's going to mean that you can sleep soundly at night.
There is no way to avoid problems, with a refurbishment. There are always things that come up.
But hopefully, there are a couple of things, I can give you insights into, which will cover a few key things, that really help us to structure our projects and which help us to make sure the refurbishments that we are doing, go as swimmingly as possible.
The first thing is communication.
So, without a doubt, communication is absolutely paramount.
If you are starting off a refurbishment or a conversation with the build team, prior to your refurbishment and they are slow to get back, slow to email or there is just a lack of effort, evident in their responses, I would be concerned about that, personally.
That's never performed well for us, ongoing, in terms of the refurbishments we've done.
We've always experienced issues when there's been a problem, prior to the refurb, starting with communication.
And it's usually indicative that the contact or the refurbishment team or the trades are just too busy, too overwhelmed.
And when they are starting your refurbishment it is unlikely that there will be a change in that situation.
So, personally, good communication, we see, as being absolutely paramount.
Then there is making sure that you have a good relationship. Making sure that you have good contact and good lines of communication, open with your development team, is very important.
The second thing is planning.
So, that's making sure that you have all of the agreements in place, making sure you have a Gantt chart or schedule of works, your timeframes.
You need something lined up, that says exactly what's going to happen and when.
Because then you can refer back to that whenever you need to. Not just in conversations with your trades and your refurbishment team, but also in your own planning.
If you are planning on selling that property or renting that property, you are going to need a bit of a timeline, as to when things are going to be likely to be done.
So, when can you start marketing? When can you start the furnishing it (if you need to)? And if you are winging it and you don't know what these dates are, it will be so easy for everything to overrun.
Then an extra couple of days can then lead into an extra couple of weeks, very easily, without you even noticing.
And also there is a knock-on effect and impact from not having a scheduled and structured diary, in terms of when things are happening.
This can mean that you easily miss trade dates and you might need things to happen in a line.
For instance, maybe a joiner needs to come in on a certain date after a previous trade has been finished. If you miss that date, from the previous trade, your joiner might then be busy for the next week or two weeks.
Then, all of a sudden, you've got difficulty when it comes to the knock-on impacts that has, as well.
Make sure you have all the agreements in place, so everybody knows, clearly, what is being done and who's doing what. And that timeline of when things are happening is very important, as well.
The third thing that I would, personally, recommend, is using a whole-of-service, refurbishment team, rather than individual trades.
There is value to using individual trades. It gives you much more control over those conversations and relationships if you needed that.
That can usually have a bit more of an impact, in terms of saying, I, specifically, need this or want this done, in this particular way or this particular material to be used.
It's easier in that respect because you have direct communication with those individuals.
The downside to it is that extensive project management is required. So, juggling diaries, making sure each individual trade is aware of what's happening.
Then there is organising the materials and not just the materials in terms of things like the bath or shower or kitchen that you want but also the minor items, the day-to-day usability items that the trades are going to need, in order to do their role.
If you are project managing they might be relying on you to get that, so, they can stay on-site, rather than nipping out to the shops, all the time, to try and get minor items.
Whereas, if you've got a project manager and a whole-of-service, refurbishment team, they can run that project, for you.
There is a cost to that, of course. It's going to cost you a little bit more, in terms of the refurbishment total.
And very often, they cover their fees by having profit on project management, laid into that. So there is a consideration, for cost.
But personally, I have found it easier when we are using a whole-of-service refurbishment team.
So, they are the recommendations I'd give when it comes to managing refurbishments. They are just things that will, hopefully, keep your refurbishments ticking over.
If you are looking at developing buy-to-let properties, even if it is something that is relatively straightforward or even, maybe, something that is more extensive; if you're doing apartment conversions, title splits or if you are looking at converting a residential house into an HMO or anything grander - these tips will help keep you on track and help you make sure that you are finding the right kind of contacts.
Then the final thing I would recommend, as well, is something that we've noticed, on some of our latest projects, is to, where possible, go on recommendation.
We have used lots of different services, online, before.
We've used lots of different sites, before, to try and find that initial contact. If you are working in a new area, that's fair enough.
But if you can...
Recommendations have been gold dust for us when it comes to refurbishments because it's just easier to find the right refurbishment team or the right individual trades if you need to pull somebody on to do a role and if you know somebody that has used them before, that's great.
And if you don't have any contacts in a local area, just go to a local property networking event and just ask people there who they use for their trades or for their refurbishments.
This will give you a bit of a headstart, in making sure, you get the right team for your next buy-to-let project.
Hope that helps. Any questions, don't hesitate to ask!
Catch you all soon, bye.