Renovating your own rental properties can be a valuable way to save money, but you’ll need to take some precautions. Lauren O’ Connor works with Zoro, a supplier of tools and safety equipment used in renovation projects. She shares her expertise on how to keep yourself — and your tenants — safe.
When it comes to refurbishing your rental property, it’s only logical that you’ll want to carry out a lot of the work on your own. It’s often much cheaper than hiring a contractor, and you can be sure that everything will be done according to your wishes.
But, despite the many advantages, carrying out your own renovations can leave you vulnerable to accidents, so it’s crucial that you safeguard yourself during work. You’ll also need to make sure all renovations you carry out are done to a high standard, as any inadequate work could endanger your future tenants. Just read on to find out the four essential things every landlord should consider before picking up their tools.
1. Protect yourself from dangerous fumes and dust
When working with potentially dangerous materials, you’ll need to make sure you’re using respiratory protection. Paints, paint stripper, cleaning products, varnishes, glues, and spray paints can all generate toxic fumes and gases, so it’s essential to wear a respiratory mask and eye protection when you use these products. Different masks offer different levels of filtration, so you’ll need to choose one that suits the chemical agent you’re working with. The manufacturer will usually give this information on the product packaging.
The same applies to tasks that can produce potentially hazardous by-products. Jobs that involve cutting or sanding wood can produce high volumes of dust, which can be damaging to the lungs and eyes, so you’ll need to wear a respiratory mask and safety goggles at all times.
2. Take extra care on ladders
Whatever your plans, it’s likely that you’ll need to use a ladder at some point in your renovations, so you’ll need to make sure that you use yours safely and sensibly. If you plan to do work from a height using a leaning ladder — for instance, clearing the gutters, or repainting high walls and ceilings — your ladder should always rest at a 75-degree angle against the wall, and it should always be secured at the point of contact to prevent it from slipping outwards or sideways.
You should also be careful not to take too much heavy equipment up with you, as this could compromise your balance, and you’ll need to keep at least one hand free to hold onto the ladder — if you think you’ll struggle, then consider using a tool belt. Leaning ladders can be particularly hazardous, especially if you plan to undertake renovation work alone, so brush up on how to use them safely by reading this guide from The Health and Safety Executive before you get started.
3. Take care when painting
Although it’s not a legal requirement, many landlords prefer to repaint their properties between longer tenancies, as it keeps the paintwork and wall plaster in good condition. A fresh lick of paint will also make your property look newer and feel brighter, making it seem more appealing to prospective tenants.
But, before you pick up that paintbrush, there are a few safety pointers you should bear in mind. While it may seem like a fairly harmless substance, paint actually gives off strong chemical odours that can quickly become overwhelming in an enclosed space. You’ll need to make sure that all areas are well ventilated as you paint, so open all doors and windows to let in as much fresh air as possible. A freshly painted room should not be occupied until it is completely dry, according to HomeTips’ painting safety guide, so you’ll also need to leave at least three days for your paintwork to dry before allowing tenants into the property.
4. Take your time
As a landlord, you can have limited time to redecorate your properties in between tenancies. This can make it very tempting to rush through renovation work, especially if you’ve got multiple properties to manage and you’re doing all of the work yourself. But, hurrying through the job can put you at risk of accidents and injuries, and it can also mean that you end up making mistakes.
If you end up causing structural damage to the property, you’ll probably need to bring in professionals to make repairs, so these mistakes could prove costly. And, as any repairs are likely to increase the overall time the property is sitting without tenants, they’re also likely to hit your rental yield. So, in the long run, it’s much better to take your time and make sure your work is up to standard — even if you have to extend the vacant period between one tenancy and the next.