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Decorating an empty property on a budget

The Empty Homes Agency estimates that there are currently some 610,000 empty homes in England, one third of which have been empty for more than six months and are therefore classified as long-term empty housing.

Although the particular schemes that may be run may differ from one local authority to another, many of them provide incentives – such as grants and loans – for individuals to buy empty homes in their area, refurbish them and live in the property themselves or let it out to tenants.

If you are the new owner of such a property, how might you do so on a budget?

  • however tight your budget, there are some things you might still consider essential. Speak to your current buildings insurance provider about your plans to ensure they will cover your project – you may need empty property insurance or renovation insurance if your plans include more major works;
  • these are standalone forms of insurance cover to protect your investment in the property whilst works are in progress – bear in mind that not every insurer is prepared to extend such cover from inception, so you may need to consult a specialist insurance provider to identify suitable insurers;
  • refurbishing and decorating your empty property does not have to be an expensive job says David Ireland in an article for the BBC;
  • however modest – or, indeed, extensive – your redecoration plans may be, though, a detailed budget to which you are able to adhere is going to prove a valuable ally in getting the job done;
  • if your refurbishment of the empty property involves more than a lick of paint and you find yourself contracting tradesmen to make more significant modifications, remember that you may qualify for discounts on the VAT payable (from 20% down to 5%) if the home previously stood empty for two years or more;
  • with the more modest plans of a restricted budget, you might not be able to afford the efforts of professional tradesmen, but that does not mean you cannot call on the favours, free labour and enthusiasm of all your friends;
  • even if the extent of your redecoration does only amount to a lick of fresh paint, however, you may still make savings on the cost of the paint if you buy all you need at a discount in a job lot – and it doesn’t even have to be magnolia;
  • if your objective is to redecorate in order to let out to tenants, it might be worth remembering that you are doing so in order to increase the home’s “kerb appeal” – to make it immediately attractive as a rental property from the moment potential tenants see it from the road and from the moment they step inside;
  • in other words, appearances are everything – redecoration does not necessarily need to suit your own tastes, provided you have made the most in getting value for money from your limited budget;
  • with this guiding principle in mind, there is a host of small – and inexpensive – measures you may take, but which still give the impression of your having lavished care an attention on what was until recently an empty home;
  • allowing for the possible need to reupholster, you might be surprised by the potential of second hand or auction bought furniture for giving the home that lived in feeling;
  • indeed, recycling and reusing is increasingly popular and made all the more easy through car boot sales, flea markets, charity shops and reclamation yards – there is even an organisation called Freecycle where you might pick up and use the things that other people no longer need for free;
  • one way of breathing new life into and giving an entirely new look to existing cupboards, drawers and fitted units is simply to change the handles on them;
  • you might not even have to redecorate every room in the house – some of them might be given a perfectly respectable makeover simply by making a feature of one wall with a fresh coat of paint or a covering of wallpaper;
  • when you are on a tight budget, it is more important than ever that you shop smart – this might mean making sure that you give every purchase the research it is due or simply ensuring that you take your time before making any purchase;
  • decorating your empty home on a budget may be the perfect excuse for your learning a new skill – every task you may do yourself, might save on the cost of hiring someone else;
  • UKTV’s Love My Home even suggests that you might swap or barter your skills for other people’s do it yourself skills;
  • you might also soon learn the real value of the tools that you use and the importance of looking after them well, extending their working lives and, so, saving yourself the expense of constantly buying new.

This long list of tips and suggestions might help to bear out the fact that decorating a previously empty home need not be expensive, require elaborate planning or demand the input of costly contractors – much of the work may be done yourself.