How to get a pinch of Parisienne glamour – all in a landlord’s week

2014-01-19_0001Being a full time landlord means life is full of surprises, and I don’t mean the kind wrapped in a big bow which when opened taste / small / feel good! A tenant moved out on 31st Dec and as the new tenant couldn’t be in until 18 Jan, I decided to give the one bedroomed apartment a bit of a tickle, repainting throughout. We were busy on another job so two decorators came in the sort the job. We opted to remove the old wallpaper as it was peeling in places. I should have known and actually a little part of me suspected what might happen…..

I’d always wanted to properly refurb this apartment by replastering with insulated board to make it warmer and renewing damaged mis-matched woodwork botched by the previous landlord. When I first stretched myself to buy the block back in 2004, I didn’t have the serious money for full refurbishment, plus back then insulation & all things eco were’t the order of most landlords days, never mind a newbie like me with zero cash flow. As time went on and I bought more rental property, I started to do back to brick renovations as a matter of course, but these first few had missed out.

As the paper came off, guess what, so did most of the plasterwork in both the living room and the bedroom! The old, dirty, soil-filled layer which had desiccated over a hundred years and now was going to properly get into every nook and cranny of the furniture piled high in the centre of the rooms in readiness for the relatively clean (we’d thought) job of painting. Arghhhh! The filthiness of old plaster, billowing dust everywhere. I’d gone from a £400 tickle to five times that in labour, boarding, skimming, new carpets. What a start to the New Year.

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So what was on my mind? Obviously how to make the flat Moregeous! The budget was already blown so I’d to be careful, no designer wallpaper or high end paint brands. Thank goodness for B&Q and their fab wallpaper range, which came up trumps with this gorgeous Parisienne cityscape, in muted taupe-grey, it was perfect with the Pale Walnut paint for the walls and new silver grey carpet. Grey is the new black, I believe, so we’re bang on trend but without being too in your face for a rental. Twitter helped make up my mind with a resounding YES when I posted a picture of it laid out on the superstore floor 🙂

2014-01-19_0009I gave serious thought to warming up the apartment too, using insulated 25mm plasterboard on the walls to prevent heat loss and also debated putting a layer of silver insulation under the new carpets and underlay to prevent cold draughts from the cellar below. I was helped out on this by experts in the field who said that the high Tog ratings from new PU foam underlay would give great protection, good enough not to require a third layer (which may also raise the floor level too high for door bars etc).  For me as a landlord, it’s really important to provide better than average properties for my tenants and for what is probably an extra £30 for decent underlay, there’s a much better quality product giving much better quality cold ingress protection through the old timber floors – perfect!
2014-01-19_0008I also found a whole new use for the wasted slats at the bottom of altered window blinds which made me very happy as I HATE throwing things away. I changed the old curtains for new Ikea cream Lindmon blinds and always take the excess slats off for a better job, usually binning them, very reluctantly. Suddenly dawned on me whilst I was tin-snipping the sides that I could cut them down and use them as plant markers, bonus!!

2014-01-19_0004It’s been a very tough fortnight’s work in order to meet the deadline of the 18th but yesterday our new tenant moved into what is, frankly, not the flat she viewed but a much better one! We didn’t expect to start 2014 off with 14hr days, totally blown the work/life balance New Year resolutions but such is the life of a full time, hands on landlord. Expect the unexpected and you won’t ever be disappointed.

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