After sharing a before and after of the kitchen of this house on Instagram last week, we got a lot of questions about the project and I thought it would be useful to share some more details.

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This is a 4 bed mini-HMO which we sourced and project managed for one of our investors, and we now let out for her on an ongoing basis. The property is in Stockport and started life as a 2 bed mid terrace which we found on Rightmove (where 90% of our deals come from, no fancy sourcing strategies for us). We had an offer accepted of £110,000 and estimated we could do the work for around £30,000.

Exterior Shot

This is the first time we have done a “mini-HMO” and it is a model that really appeals to us. They are easier to source (certainly in the area we operate), but the biggest benefit is how easily they can be converted back to a single let. You can operate it as an HMO whilst the market is strong, squeezing your asset and maximising your income, but if your strategy changes down the line or HMO demand reduces, it’s still an appealing home for a single tenancy as it hasn’t been over developed.

Anyway I digress, (it’s the first time Mike has given me free reign on an article so I’m getting a bit giddy). When looking at the original floor plan and trying to allocate four rooms, perhaps the most obvious choice was to divide the front room, however this wouldn’t have met minimum room size requirements, so instead we turned to the existing bathroom. Fitting bathrooms in is much easier as they can be much smaller, plus they don’t need a window. It can become a challenge to run the waste pipe if you aren’t going back to brick, but in this case we were so we knew we could make it work.

We were also quite keen to get at least one en-suite in, as in Stockport they always rent first and command a higher rent. With all this in mind, below is what we decided to do.

Existing floor plan
New floor plan

Budget

The actual spend was £33,950, a fairly sizeable increase over the original estimate, which was driven by a couple of things:

  1. We decided to spend some money tidying up the back yard. We hadn’t budgeted for this but after moving the drains to accommodate the new soil pipe, we thought it could do with tidying up. We also didn’t anticipate having to move the drains as our original bathroom layout didn’t require it. Together these added £1,500
  2. We also underestimated the cost of the electrics, as initially we’d hoped to extend the existing wiring as it was installed fairly recently, however after discussing the longevity of the work with both the electrician and client we decided to go for a full new installation. This added another £1,000 to the budget.
  3. There were a few other additions throughout the project like moving the gas meter, mainly driven by us changing the specification to create a better end-project, that resulted in this budget increase.

I’ve listed some of the main budget expenses below to help you plan your own project and sense check with what other investors are paying:

  • Electrics (full rewire of lights and sockets, including hard wired smoke detectors) – £3,000
  • Plumbing (installation of 2 new bathrooms, and extending the central heating system) – £5,900
  • Joinery (new stud partitions, fire doors throughout, kitchen upgrades and making good skirting, architraves etc) – £5,500
  • Plastering (full skim throughout as well as various bits of boarding and patching) – £3,100
  • Decorating (decoration throughout whole house including wall papering feature walls and all materials) – £3,200
  • Furniture (all bedroom and lounge furniture, plus appliances and kitchen utensils etc) – £5,700

Interiors

Together with our client, we pulled together a Pinterest board of ideas. With it being a smaller HMO, she wanted to create a more boutique/homely feel, rather than something too bright and trendy.

Pinterest Mood Board

We started by painting the entire house a single colour (including the woodwork!). This not only kept the decorator happy (and costs down) but it also looks modern and crisp. There are no lines to cut in, and it makes the rooms feel bigger. I’m really into coloured woodwork at the moment, and I think that matching the walls is super stylish. In this house, we colour matched Farrow & Ball’s “Cornforth White”.

After photo of communal lounge
Lounge before

For the first time ever, and inspired by Pinterest, we have used wallpaper in a few key areas. I am yet to see how this lasts the test of time, but the paper was cheap (B&Q) and I think it looks great. I’ve been itching to do exposed brick for a while, but its never worked out (the walls have either been too damaged, or we’ve needed to run cables/pipes down them) so this was the next best thing.

Front bedroom before
Front bedroom after

Kitchen

This is the first time we’ve ever upcycled a kitchen instead of ripping it out and starting again. Normally we are altering the layout of the room so have no choice to replace, but the kitchen was staying in the same position, it was only a few years old and we wanted to keep costs low, so updating it seemed the perfect choice.

We went back to Howdens (where the original kitchen was from) and got new doors, end panels and worktops. We replaced all the appliances (and moved the washing machine into the cupboard under the stairs). We replaced all the tiling, painted the walls and put new herringbone effect vinyl down. Overall, I’m thrilled with it, we still need to box in the boiler pipes but aside from that I think its great. I can’t give an exact cost for the kitchen as a lot of the work was invoiced with other parts of the renovation, but the new doors & end panels came to £725 and the worktop was £250. We used white subway tiles from Wickes which cost £10 per square metre.

Existing Kitchen
Kitchen after the work

This is the first project that I’ve put such effort and thought into the interiors, and the feedback from tenants has been fantastic, so definitely something I want to put more energy into as we move forward.

I hope this has been useful, feel free to drop me an email with any questions.

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2 Responses

  1. Hi there,

    I absolutely love what you have done with this property.

    I’m in the process of sourcing my first mini HMO deal. I can’t see the new floor plan that you introduced, i’d love to see this so I can use it as a bit of inspiration and generate more creative idea’s!

    On another note – do you believe creating en-suite bathrooms for most rooms is beneficial? or do you think this could potentially be overspending unnecessarily?

    1. Hey Sam, great question about en-suites. They are definitely more popular for our young professional market, and typically give a good ROI – £3k installation (roughly) and at least £50/month rent increase (plus lower voids between tenancies etc) = £600/year profit on a £3k spend = 20% ROI.

      We’d always try to keep at least one communal bathroom though – handy if an en-suite shower breaks etc. Removes the urgency. Hope that helps.

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