I've just finished building a Koi pond in my garden. I replaced an old pond which had simply been a liner in hole in the ground surrounded by sleepers. It had a cheap pump, cheap filter and too many fish. This meant that I was forever cleaning out the filter and could only see the fish if they came up for feeding. Like many other first time fish-keepers, I didn't do any real research or speak with experts. The old pond I finally replaced was actually the third incarnation of the idea. I got 10 years out of the old pond, but in truth they were not fantastic years.
My new pond is much bigger, has far fewer fish, has state-of-the-art filtration and has been future-proofed. It has been well and truly over-engineered. It was quite an investment, but future expenditure will be limited to feed and occasional maintenance.
In March, I saw a ground floor maisonette in Brighton Hill which had been bought by investors. Rather like my fish, the previous owners had lived there quite happily, but in a "getting-by" sort of way.
The new owners could, in theory, have done little or nothing to the maisonette and would quite possibly have found tenants for it, albeit Belvoir would have chosen to step away from the opportunity to manage it.
Had they chosen this path, they would have not only have received far less in rent, but the tenants that they would have been able to attract would have been of a lesser quality. And, no doubt their attitude would have been along the lines of "the landlord doesn't care too much about his property, so why should I?"
Quite rightly then, the landlords decided to tidy the place up. And this is where the over-engineering came in.
The property had electric storage heating when they bought it. We let lots of properties with electric heating, but gas fired central heating is almost invariably the preferred option. So, the new owners had a brand new boiler and radiators fitted.
The property had UPVC double glazing, but it wasn't anything to write home about, so they arranged for replacment double-glazing to be fitted.
Instead of simply painting over defective walls, they had old wallpaper stripped, they skimmed where required and hung lining paper where appropriate. Then they painted the walls.
Serviceable (after a fashion) laminate flooring and carpets were replaced with new.
The kitchen was ripped out and a shiny new one was fitted. New white goods were provided. The bathroom, which in fairness was in reasonable order, received new flooring, a new shower screen and some minor cosmetic works, including new sealant, grouting and a new w.c. syphon.
Gardens and fences are easily over-looked, but the fence and gate were properly repaired.
The result was that we achieved the best possible rent and had blue-chip tenants move in, very happily. They've lived there for a month or so and we've not had a peep out of them.
They didn't even feel the need to return the inventory to us with any comments, since an effectively brand new property is far easier to accurately describe than one with defects all over the place.
I fully expect that the owners will only be troubled now with run-of-the-mill maintenance issues.
Where I can now sit on my patio and enjoy watching my fish in their new home, these landlords can relax in the knowledge that they won't be continually bothered with maintenance or other issues.
Unusually, the new owners were very hands-on in the preparation, although they used a variety of contractors with whom we had put them in touch.
I saw another very similar property yesterday where the landlord simply wants to paper over the cracks. We won't be helping him since I remember exactly what it's like getting wet and cold cleaning out an inadequate filter in the depths of winter to stop my pond from draining.
If you would like any advice regarding preparation of a property for letting, please feel free to email or telephone us, or simply pop in for a coffee.