The Complete Guide to Property Investment

Book notes for "The Complete Guide to Property Investment", How to survive & thrive in the new world of buy-to-let by Rob Dix


Last annotated on December 16, 2016

If you're using a tradesperson, it's their responsibility to get
approval from the building regulations department of the local
authority, and they'll also be the ones to face a fine if they don't -
although as the owner of the building you could be issued with an order
to bring shoddy work up to standard at your own expense. If the
tradesperson is a "competent person" (meaning that they're a member of a
trade body scheme, like FENSA for windows or ECA for electrics), they
can self-certify that their work meets buildings standards without
having to invite in the local authority to inspect the job afterwards.
They will issue you with a certificate stating that the work is
compliant, which becomes very important when you come to sell or
refinance the property: loc 2068

For anything beyond the smallest job, the normal commonsense rules
apply: get three quotes and trust your gut. To make sure you're
comparing like with like, ask everyone to be clear about the exact scope
of work: you might find for example that one quote is more expensive
because the builder anticipates needing to replaster, whereas someone
else has just assumed that the old plaster will be fine. I always insist
on a fixed price quote (rather than one based on how long the job takes)
so I know in advance how much it will cost, and the builder has the
incentive to get the job done and get paid rather than drag it out. I
also ask for that quote to be broken down into labour and materials,
which makes it easier to dig into the quote in more detail. Rather than
just having someone suck air through his teeth, scratch his head and say
"You're looking at about two grand there," you can ask how many days
that includes for each trade at what day rate - making any padding in
the quote immediately obvious. When it comes to materials, I'm generally
happy for the builder to supply the basics because they'll have access
to better prices than I will - and although they'll often mark up the
prices a bit to account for their time in doing the running around, it
saves me doing it myself. For anything where personal taste is more of a
factor, like a bathroom suite, you might prefer to supply your own. loc

Big jobs (which I'd personally classify as being anything over a couple
of thousand pounds) deserve a contract with clear specifications, dates,
figures and provisions for when things go wrong. The Federation of
Master Builders has put together a template that you can just print off
and fill in the blanks ( loc 2111

The jobs I've seen go the most wrong are the ones where the investor put
someone in charge and expected to come back a couple of months later to
a totally finished project. Instead, they tended to find that the
builders had got as far as making everything a total mess, but stopped
short of putting it back together again. loc 2156

In other words, if a job absolutely must be done in two months' time,
agree with everyone involved that it needs to be done in a month. Even
if everyone has the best of intentions and works as hard as possible,
unexpected delays will always creep in. Whether it's weather, delays
with materials or nasty complications arising, I'm yet to see a project
of any size that runs exactly as you'd expect it to in an ideal world.
loc 2162

There's also the idea of "hotspots": you could buy in an area that's
primed for explosive growth then just wait and hope, but that's a lot
harder than you might think. Unless you're unusually skilled or have
incredible local knowledge, I consider chasing hotspots to be a
distraction. Whenever I've bought in a hotspot, it's been a total
accident. loc 2877 \> like in MB there is the concept of exposing
yourself to opportunities with high potential income, giving you overall
positive EV