YPN House - Part 2: Coronavirus halts work

189 Canklow - Get the builders in

The builders were the ones who had initially alerted me to the fire (not the police or the fire brigade …). It took five phone calls to my electricity supplier and the national grid, and it was only after being transferred to several departments that someone came around to have a look at it.

He said there was a problem and we had to pay for a survey by the National Grid. Sorting this issue cost £1,355 because I needed a new cable and they had to dig up the garden back to the road. It was connected to power on the 16th of April.

Meanwhile, the builders bought a generator to carry on with the works. We estimated that the builder-supplied materials would cost around £2,000 (for us that excludes the big ticket items like kitchen, bathroom suite and tiles because we specify and supply those and we know the costs). The rest of the money was spent on labour. Different builders will give different prices, and it’s key to get as many quotes as possible. It’s not about getting the cheapest, but the best fit for you and your project.

I’m always careful when doing a renovation to get the initial list of works (see Schedule of Works shown in this article) just right to make the house decent, safe, rentable and desirable. It’s possible to spend too much money on the project, which will kill the deal. I then give this list to our potential builders to get like-for-like quotes.

We set aside £3,000 for a contingency fund, and that will usually be spent on electrics, plumbing, boilers and anything lurking under the floorboards. I have a works manager who signs off on any unforeseen works, and I make sure there is photographic evidence so I can record everything that was done.

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Before photos...

During photos...

Plan of action

As mentioned in last month’s article, we estimated £21,639 for the renovation of Canklow. That number includes the cost of a new kitchen and bathroom, a partial rewiring, re-plastering, redecorating and new flooring. We needed to dig into our contingency a little bit for the boiler, as we had an allowance of £750 but the new one cost £1,500.

I used to be focused on getting the job done as fast as possible to get it rented out as soon as possible. But I now focus on getting the job 100% right before a tenant moves in. Property is a long-term investment and I hope that this house will be in my family for the next 300 years … I’ll pass it on to my kids, who’ll pass it on to their kids, and so on. Looking at the bigger picture, an extra few weeks won’t make much of a difference.

In the past, I moved in tenants when the paint was still wet and the snagging wasn’t finished yet. Once, the water tank burst on move-in day and flooded the entire place. It’s just stress I don’t need! That’s why I like to get it completely finished, do the snagging checks and give the builders an additional week to finish anything that needs finishing. At that time, the heating is on full and the water is running. If anything is going to leak, burst or break, it can be fixed in that spare week.

When the pandemic hit

We were around 80% of the way through the works before lockdown was enforced and we had to put tools down. If we weren’t in this situation, we would have been finished and rented by now.

I’m not entirely sure on what to do with the building works at the moment. Something we’re considering is splitting the works and jobs for teams of two to complete, and phase it out just to get to the end. There are a few bits of materials we’re still waiting for, but if we can keep inching forward with teams of two on the jobs that can be done, we can slowly get it finished, snagged and marketed.

However, if we weren’t so close to the finish line, I would probably mothball it until everything is back to normal. I think that would be the most sensible thing to do. There was a point where I was organising meetings to constantly keep the ball rolling, but as soon as we made a decision, everything had changed again.

The situation is changing all the time and I’ve accepted it and stopped stressing about it. That’s all I can do at the moment. I’ll check back in with you next month to keep you updated on where we are with 189 Canklow!

Schedule of Works

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