Property Refurbishment – Step By Step Series For Your Refurbishment Project

property refurbishment

Found an investment property, offer is accepted. Exchanged and completed on the fixer-upper property.

Now what?

Property refurbishment is one of the most important parts of property investment.

Planning for the property refurbishment must start on the day of viewing. It helps in calculation of the offer price.


Any misjudgement in the refurbishment costs can make or break the deal.

This is first of the series of articles on property refurbishments on Limitless Monks blog.

Let’s start

Planning The Property Refurbishment

As discussed earlier, planning of property refurbishment starts at the time of viewing the property.

Few points to think for property refurbishment:

  • Have you done research for your investment area and calculated numbers e.g cost of DPC, plastering to help arrive at close to accurate refurbishment costs?
  • Are you planning an extension?
  • Would there be changes to internal walls?
  • Do you need changes to external walls, e.g. additional doors, windows?

Outcome-based thinking is important while planning property refurbishment.

Different outcomes could be:

  • Property value is increased, hence get more money out during refinance.
  • Just by having planning permission in place, the value of the property can go up if you want to sell the property or even empty land.
  • Increase the rental value, e.g. converting 2-bed property to 3-bed property.

Planning Permission

After Planning permission, if plan is approved, property value can increase massively. For e.g. the value of the plot can increase from £10,000 to £100,000.

The local council provides Planning permission. You can get a lot of free information from the local council’s website.

Planning permission may not be needed for:

  • Most internal alterations
  • extensions based on type and dimensions
  • Some loft conversions
  • minor garages changes

If it is a listed building or in a conservation area, you may need to check with your local conservation officer.

The planning application may take two months or longer to go through the complete process.

Information required for planning permission could vary between council to council.

Following is the high-level information that would be required:

  • Location Plan
  • Block Plan
  • Elevations
  • Floor Plan
  • Materials

Your planning application would go through the process of:

Submission: Ideally try and submit electronic copies to the online portal. This would avoid you sending multiple copies.

Validation: Local council will check if you have provided all the required information to complete the process.

Payment: Once the application is validated, you may be needed to pay for the processing of the application.

Consult: Council will then consult neighbours, statutory bodies, highways and urban design to get their feedback.

Consultation period: There will be a consultation period which could last between 3 to 4 weeks.

Decision: If everything is ok, your plan will be approved. Once approved, it is valid for the next three years for the work to start. If rejected, appropriate reasons will be provided. Amended plans could be resubmitted.

It is advisable to consult with local architect to ensure all the required information for the planning is presented to the council.


Planning does not cover, inspection. It does not check the quality of work, whether it will fall etc.

Building regulations ensure, if structure is built properly and to required safety standards.

 Building Control

If you are doing structural alteration like changing the supporting wall, loft conversion, extension or a completely new house, you need building control service.

Building control service will ensure that the changes are:

  • Structurally safe
  • Fire safety
  • Damp resistant
  • Suitable drainage
  • Energy efficient
  • Electric & gas safe

Building control application can be Full plans application including structural designs and other relevant information or Building notice for small types of work.

For either of the applications, work will be inspected on site.

Depending on the type of work, inspection will have to be carried out at various stages of the build like excavations, foundation, damp proof course, timber structure etc. The builder can coordinate with the building regs officer for the regular inspections.

At the end of the build, building regulations will give a completion certificate.  Building regulations completion certificate is required for sale, re-mortgage etc.

Building regulations can be applied in person, by post, online email. Please check with your local council for all the options you have.

Funding The Property Refurbishment

After completion, it is very important to complete the refurbishment and rent the property or flip it, if not there are costs associated with holding empty property.

What costs can property incur, if the project is not completed on time and property is not tenanted?

Council tax: Depending on postcode, council tax can be expensive. You could let the council know that property is empty and get empty house discount.

Utilities: You should ensure that there is some heating in place. If not, condensation creates damp in the property. Damp could lead to mould and deteriorate the property. There will be some utility costs that you will incur.

Buildings insurance: Empty properties are considered risky by insurance companies and hence, can be expensive.

For one of our properties which was empty in the north-west following were the costs that we incurred per month

Council tax:  £120

Utilities: £30(approximately)

Buildings insurance: £33

Total: £183 per month.

An empty property is not good for anyone. Instead of cash flow, there will be cash drain.

Having funding in place can speed up the refurbishment process.


There are different options for raising funding:

  1. Raising angel funding for interest
  2. Crowdfunding
  3. Renovation Mortgage
  4. Refinancing existing property to raise funds.

Schedule Of Works

One of the mistakes we did on our very first property is to go ahead with a builder who was non-technical when it comes to documentation or planning.


We resigned to the idea that the builder cannot do the schedule of works and has never done one for his clients.


This soon came back to bite us severely with scope creep on work items, lack of visibility into what order work is going to happen and what timescales the build team will adhere to.

Here is the deal:

Not having a property schedule of works that is agreed between build team and investor is a rookie mistake.

So get that right, even if it requires you to create the schedule of works with the builder yourself.

Here is a simple schedule of works that you can create on your own in the given format below in an excel or a google sheet.


You need a schedule of works for the following reasons

  • Spend Wisely: To have a clear understanding of what work is going to take place in which week/day, i.e. a correct sequence of work. Get the sequence of refurbishment wrong, and you will end up paying an additional price for the same refurbishment.
  • Avoid Surprises: Tracking estimated costs versus actual costs regularly and not just at the end of the refurbishment phase. Avoid last-minute surprises on overspend.
  • Payment Milestones: The logical, incremental schedule where you agree to pay the builder based on completion of milestones.
  • Refinance Deliverable: It’s a formal representation of works carried out and a deliverable during the refinancing of the property at later stages.


Property refurbishment can be a piece of cake if we understand the processes and procedures.

Equally, it can be equally painful if we don’t understand, what, how and why of various stages of property refurbishment.

In the next article we will cover next steps for refurbishment.



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