9 Tips To Finishing A Property Renovation Ahead Of Schedule

7 Aug

I cannot think of a time in my life when I have completed a property renovation and said:

“Well, that didn’t take as long as I thought it would”.

Never.

And I cannot believe I am saying it now.  But I am.

This project was run differently to my norm, so I thought I’d share with you what I did to achieve ahead of schedule success!  And just in case you’re wondering – I thought this project would take at least 6 weeks to complete with additional workers and actually took just 5 weeks – with LESS workers!!

So how did I do it?

1. I made a plan and DIDN’T stick to it!

screwed up ball of paper

The original plan involved a different renovation and a different end result.  It also involved decorators – and I don’t mean me!  But things didn’t go according to plan and, I ended up decorating the entire 129 sqm (1390 sqft) property myself.  It was a BIG task.

What started as a ‘gap-filling’ exercise in-between appointments while waiting for the double glazing people to arrive, and project managing on-site for key installs – ended up with me doing the work.  That was not part of the plan…but then most plans went out of the window!  Agile development, I believe, is the software term for what ended up being my method of working!

2. I took plenty of time OFF!

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This runs contrary to what I would normally do.  However, due to other commitments (I’m also at the final stages of two other big projects and was launching my Property Investment book) I could NOT be on site every day.  Nor could I work really long days.  I literally had too much else on to be able to do that.

And all of this is the complete opposite to how I would normally do things.  Usually I would be on a project everyday and usually long into the evening.  However, this time around I learned the importance of ‘rest’ days – or rather ‘office’ days.  Especially when you’re not used to manual labour, these rest days are critical for re-building your strength and energy levels.

3.  I did only what I LOVED!

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When you’re doing a property renovation that’s short on time and money the natural instinct is to do everything yourself.  The ‘rip out’ is something I usually take great pleasure in.  This time though, I didn’t feel it – I wimped out and paid someone else.  This was an immense source of relief for me, was money well spent and gave me a great deal of satisfaction.  I didn’t have to deal with the shit – so I could get on with other stuff I enjoyed.

I also always had the crucial back-up plan of getting decorators in.  When the moments came (as they did!) when I felt I’d I’d bitten off more than I could chew paint – I knew I always had a safety net and I could down tools at any time.

But, I didn’t.

The sheer enjoyment and satisfaction that came from knowing I was doing it all by myself – and that I could do it all by myself was too much of a motivating reward for me.

It still is now.  I am incredibly proud of what I achieved – especially when I had not set out to do that – nor had I allowed the time for it!!

4.  I decided how FAR to go from the outset

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This was a buy to let renovation which means I am not creating a show home – it is a business asset.  Period.  I soon realised that by removing all of the wallpaper in the bedrooms and the knock on effect this had on my workload, that I had created a nightmare for myself.  Days were spent on preparation – scraping, filling and sanding walls – which by all accounts needed skimming, or having lining paper put up.

I learned quickly from that initial mistake and stopped myself removing any more wallpaper and painted over it instead.  It’s not a tip you will see featured in many property renovation articles – but then maybe people don’t like to admit their short-cuts.  The finish of these painted-over-wallpapered walls is probably better than the other walls where I removed the wallpaper and, took a quarter of the time and effort to get an equivalent result!

5. I regularly reviewed progress and planned next steps

next steps

Because I was on my own most of the time, it meant I had to multi-task and be in several places at the same time.  Every night I would review what I had achieved and plan my work for the next day and beyond.    This meant I could get on with tasks in the correct order and not hold myself up while I was waiting for filler, or paint, to dry!

Appointments were scheduled and fittings were planned according to my progress – which I could map out in advance.  I knew my capabilities and what I could do within a given time slot.

6.  I learned the art of LITTLE BY LITTLE

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There comes a time in a project when you just feel totally and utterly overwhelmed.  You look around you and say: “WTF? How the hell am I going to do this?”  You want to run out, close the door very quickly and forget you ever started the project.

I had many times like that.

They were hard.  There were several times when I looked around at all the work I had to do and said to myself:

“Girl, you cannot be serious!!!”

At that point I would take myself off into the garden, have a coffee and self-flagellate myself for a few minutes at my own stupidity.  Then, I would get back on.  I would turn the music up REAL loud and find a smaller chunk of the bigger task I could get on with – then I went to work on that.

Little by little, the whole started to take shape.  Before I knew it the ‘BIG’ task I had previously been so overwhelmed by, had been completed.  I learned the art of little by little.  It gains momentum.

7.  Everyday I pushed myself a little bit MORE

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I’m quite a competitive person – especially with myself.  No matter what my daily targets – even when I had achieved them earlier or quicker than expected –  I pushed myself to do something more.  Even if it was to paint one more door, finish the paint tray I was on, or get to the end of a song.  And then when I had done that, I pushed for maybe a bit more, and then a little bit more.

Little targets once achieved, need to be re-set and pushed a bit further away.  Not much though – it’s very incremental.  It can’t be so that they feel too big or unachievable.  It’s just a little.  And that little bit of extra effort every day ended up creating much bigger and quicker results in the end.

8. I FOCUSSED exclusively on one project at a time

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At the time when I was doing this project I had loads of other stuff on the go and, so trying to give it my full attention was tough going.  I therefore created a distinct separation between ‘office days’ and ‘site days’ – when I wasn’t in the office I was in site-mode and vice versa.  That meant my mobile was switched off, and emails and calls were only checked on my allotted break-time 4-5 times per day.  While on site, I would also only ever deal with office stuff on a ‘need to do now‘ basis.  My time at site was exclusively time at site and thinking about the property renovation.

This focus and switching off (or rather intentional action/ non-action) had the result of making my “office day” feel like a day off and my “site day” feel like a day off.  It was a win-win situation.

Focus brought clarity of thinking and planning and, delivered better results more effectively and efficiently.  I didn’t have time to dilly-dally – stuff had to get done in the allotted time – otherwise it wouldn’t get done!  At no point did I allow the task to fill the time available – the time that was allocated and available was all that was allowed for the task to get done.  This was probably one of the most efficient uses of my time I have ever discovered.

9. I always kept the END goal in sight

end goal

Everyday, especially when the going got tough and I hit the pain barrier (or rather the overwhelming ‘WTF were you thinking!!!’ barrier), I would remind myself WHY I was doing what I was doing.

I would focus on the end result.

I would think about the people who would move into the property, and then I would think about the rent they were going to pay me.  It was that simple: I needed to produce a property which people wanted to rent.

It was this clarity of the end goal as a deliverable which made it easier to visualise and to complete.  And most likely spurred me on to complete – ahead of schedule!  

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