The Easy Buy To Let Experiment: Unexpected Major Expense Number 2!

2 Jul

Baxi used to be a good brand of boilers.

I say used to – because it all depends what plumber you’re talking to and when.

Up until, like yesterday, I thought they were a good brand.

That was until my plumber popped round to the house to do the gas safe check.  Now, I know I’m a little way away from having the property ready to let (and by all accounts am wasting valuable time from the 12 month annual certificate check), but given this is a rental property I wanted to ensure the boiler would meet with the safety regs.

So my chirpy plumber turns up at 8am and after a lengthy discussion swapping surf tips (he’d also coincidentally been at surf school in Lanzarote at the same time I’d been at surf camp in Fuerteventura) he gets down to business.

And I get back to stripping wallpaper.

It’s a task I love.

You probably wouldn’t want to be my neighbour while I’m stripping as I have my pop music full blast.  Anyway, enough about my stripping disco.

So despite the pumping music, I can hear him banging around with the boiler downstairs.

I can then hear him swearing (something he doesn’t normally do) and then on the phone.

I’m mid-strip up a wall when I note he’s been toying around for over an hour.

Hmmm…a gas safe check really shouldn’t take that long.

Bugger, I think to myself, I know what’s about to happen…

So I turn the music up.  Denial via Now 87 is the best course of action I decide and scrape harder at the lurid, florid wallpaper.

10 minutes later and I can hear him thumping up the stairs.

“Sam, we need to talk” he appears in the door way.

At that moment I know it’s going to be one of those conversations.  ‘Needing to talk’ is never a good sign that the other person actually wants to hear what is going to be said.

I put down my scraper and fix him with a ‘look’; a ‘look’ that says: “I am not happy about what you are about to tell me, so make sure you mean what you are about to say”.

He quickly reads the look.  Obviously his wife has trained him well.

“Let me just show you what the issue is”.

Reluctantly I put down my scraper and leave my euro-beats for the calm oasis of a dilapidated kitchen and a boiler in pieces hanging off the wall.

“The thing is Sam, it’s temperamental.  It kind of works, but kind of doesn’t”

“Will it pass the safe test?” 

“Yes, it is a safe boiler…but the issue is Sam, this isn’t a properly working boiler like it should be”

He then proceeds to show me a complex configuration of buttons you have to press to make the boiler work.

“Do you think you would be able to explain that to tenants?” he asks

Not realising I was being tested on a game of Simple Simon, I attempt to re-create the button sequence.

The boiler doesn’t fire up.

So the sequence is repeated.

Meanwhile, he’s showing me various cables and metal things and telling me about how someone has tried to repair the boiler before, that he’s concerned if this is a long-term let that I will have on-going problems and all such faff which I really don’t want to hear.

The upshot is – he’s advising I get a new boiler.

Which I wasn’t planning on doing.  And had not budgeted for.

The good news he tells me – is that he can get back and fit it before the kitchen has been plastered, which means any unsightly repairs can be made good before the new kitchen is installed.

Good news indeed.

“Give me 5 minutes to think about it” I say to him, and he goes off to disconnect the bath.

I stomp upstairs, hit the play button and turn up the volume REALLY loud.

Venting my annoyance and frustration on the wall, I see the answer staring back at me.

A temperamental boiler will only lead to temperamental tenants.

That’s not going to work for an “easy” buy to let.

I survey the walls which I had intended to skim.

“Hmm” I think to myself – how many tenants have ever woken me up in the middle of the night to complain about a wall finish.

And in that moment, I take the decision.

Scrap the skimming – let’s install a new boiler!

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