Buy to Let & LettingRefurbishmentRenovation Diary

The Easy Buy To Let Property Experiment: Why I Wimped Out

I am not one of life’s quitters.

But, it’s important to recognise when you need to give up.

Hacking tiles off walls, dismantling kitchens, removing bathrooms and moving piles of rubbish is hard, physical work.  Especially in this heat.  And on your own.  I’m not averse to manual labour – it’s just I am not used to it!

When doing a property refurbishment it’s very easy to get carried away and try and do everything yourself to save money.  This is fine, if you have the time and skills – although you do need to consider if your time could be more productively spent on an alternative task.  Time is the only resource you have – so you need to make sure you are using it to the max.  Or at least enjoying it.

Maybe it’s the chav gene in me – but I take great sadistic pleasure in smashing things up.  Smashing things hard.  And watching stuff fall apart.

But this time, I just didn’t feel it.  This time after a day of  hard ripping out I woke the next morning with a stiff, bruised and bloodied hand and thought: “WTF – is this really a good use of your time and are you really enjoying this?”

The answer was “no”.

I still had a partition wall to demolish, a fully-tiled bathroom and kitchen to strip bare – including all floor tiles, the actual bathroom itself to remove and dispose of, the actual kitchen units to remove and dispose of, a mountain of rubbish including a massive wardrobe to dump (and which I doubted fitted in the car), a dilapidated shed to dismantle and dispose of and a built-in eye level double-oven to somehow lift out on my own and get rid of.

And it was the double-oven which gave me cold shivers.  Built-in to the kitchen units and greasy to the touch, I just couldn’t figure out how I was going to get it out on my own without doing myself an injury.


And I know I am already over my refurbishment budget – what with the extra money for the property deposit, the new windows and now the decision to replace the boiler – but the waste management of property renovation is a BIG deal.  And the rip out cost is something many people overlook.  But it’s a massive use of resources – especially when you’re trying to do everything yourself!  It takes up a hell of a lot of time in trips to the tip, loading the car and just basically trying to get rid of the shit to actually start with a blank slate so you can get on with the actual job of refurbishment.

You can get a skip – except if you’ve ever hired a skip before you’ll appreciate how small a skip is when you’re clearing a property – so you’ll need several.  Added to that – skips don’t come cheap and I’d also need a permit which is yet more cost.  And, of course, skips still need filling.  Which again is another use of resources that could be deployed to an alternative task.

And so I’ve learned from experience that for rubbish disposal it’s best to get big, burly blokes in and pay them.  Yes, that’s my tip for you.  While these strapping men rip out and dispose of your rubbish you can get on with other stuff.

So I’ve paid the grand total of £450 to get the bathroom and kitchen ripped out and all the rubbish removed.  It took four men just one morning to clear the property to a state that would have taken me days to achieve.  And most likely would’ve buggered my energy levels.  In the meantime, I’ve been stripping wallpaper and meeting with double glazed salesmen.  Of course, I should’ve mentioned early on – not every alternative task will be fun!

Here’s what I got for £450 (the shed’s also gone – but I forgot to photograph that!).  Money well spent I say 🙂


  1. Jools Abel

    Always an absolute nightmare especially with the cost of skips and permits from the council.

    Always remember to use a registered waste transfer company though to ensure your waste does not end up fly tipped in some country lane or on someone’s property. If it can be traced back to you then the fines are huge.

  2. Lee

    Im going through the exact same thing at the moment, bought a house (cheap!) discovered the wiring was a bodge – £1800 rewire, half the roof needs repairing and a chunk of wall plate replacing – £800. Thats taken my circa 6k refurbishment into 8k – not good! Good job it was discounted.

    1. Sam

      I’m impressed you can do a refurb for 6k. Even at £8k including the re-wire and roof budget sounds good. What are your tips for cutting back? Does that include flooring? I’m having palpitations given my new property is 129sqm…and I wanted laminate flooring downstairs…

      1. Lee

        Hi Sam

        Well yeah 8k – 8.5k all in including floorings and my main tip would to be have a father who can virtually do anything and wants to help you for free! Other than that im like you and sourced my kitchen from howdens, bathroom was v cheap from victoria plumb too. Just general time spent researching and developing an eye for a bargain! Im sure you have much more experience than me though!

        1. Sam

          That sounds fab! I looked at Victoria Plumb for bathrooms but I found them quite dear – what did you pay in the end? I’m impressed that also includes flooring – I’m currently having cold sweats about how I’m going to afford mine – the property is 129 sqm so it’s a big size to cover with 50p! Sadly, I have no ‘will-do-anything-for-free’ labour :). Look forward to hearing more of your progress – how far in are you, and what’s you project schedule time-wise?

          1. Lee

            We are 1 month in now and have had the kitchen back to bricks and all refitted, just tiles, paint and flooring to do. I have had a complete rewire and roof repairs done too. The living room was skimmed today and is ready for paint and floor. All the walls we ripped out are in the process of being boarded. The bathroom Was £555 but that is a full suite, plus a shower cubicle and stone tray, all the waste pipes etc etc, just need tiles and floor. I think we should be done in another 4-6 weeks, its been pretty quick for my first one and I have learnt alot that I shall carry forward onto the next one!

          2. Sam

            That is great stuff well done! Sounds like you have taken on a lot for a first one. Always make sure you keep an eye on your budget and while you have help now with the labour, which is great, remember next time you may have to employ somebody so do keep this in mind for your budget. Whereabouts is your property by the way?

  3. Richard Greenland

    I don’t think you wimped out I think you made absolutely the right decision. I like manual work too it’s good for body and soul. But I think you said it exactly right when you said:

    *…you do need to consider if your time could be more productively spent on an alternative task. Time is the only resource you have – so you need to make sure you are using it to the max. Or at least enjoying it.*

    I’ve just bought a 28 bedroom hotel in Torquay, to be converted into 10 x 2 bed high-end apartments. I won’t even be project managing the build out as it’ll be a full time job and who is going to run the rest of my business?

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