With two properties sale agreed, Liam’s had an intense few weeks crammed with refurbishment mentoring, boot camp, mortgage challenges and planning applications - but he assures us things are moving well.

"What a month - having our offers accepted on two properties seems a lifetime ago now. Since then, a lot has happened. Despite not having a mortgage offer in place for one (failed valuation survey due to ‘structural movement’) of the two properties, we went ahead with our refurbishment mentoring with Kim Thorogood on both properties. We thought this would be a good use of our time, because if we didn’t go to the ‘failed’ property and did get it, we wouldn’t have had a refurbishment plan.

With Kim’s experience, we were able to visualise what we wanted, understand where we might see challenges and identify things that we need to look at in detail. It clearly helped us better understand what we need to do and the complexities and the process of getting a spec together. We also got to meet with the local HMO officer at his office and he was very cooperative, extremely nice and somebody that should be good to work with. Kim was extremely happy and said we couldn’t get a better HMO officer than that – that was certainly great to hear!

A couple of days later we were delighted, if a little surprised, to discover that the mortgage offer had been approved for the ‘failed’ property. Furthermore, in anticipation of remedial work being required, we had actually negotiated a reduction in the purchase price with the vendor. With that, Claire and I went down to Bournemouth for the Boot Camp on a high – despite the difficulties and challenges of getting cover for three young children (all under six) for two days!

Having already attended the April National Workshop and the May Northern Regional Meeting, this was the first PPP event that we had attended where everybody was at pretty much the same stages of their journeys. As such, it was both hugely beneficial and enjoyable to be with all the ‘new kids’. It was great to talk with them and see what they’re up to, how it’s going for them and what they’ve learned. The sessions were also extremely informative and very relevant to what we need to know at the moment and imminent next steps. Visiting a couple of existing PPP HMO’s in the area was particularly useful, as it certainly gave us some food for thought about the plans for our initial properties.

On our return from Boot Camp, we had a meeting with an architect to scope out our plans for the extensions on the (previously) ‘failed’ property. Just when we thought all was going smoothly, he blew a great big hole in our plans when it became apparent that local planning restrictions would limit our initial thoughts and plans – certainly not good news that we didn’t foresee any of these challenges. The disappointment was further compounded when we realised (after going back through the various information and paperwork received) that the restrictions highlighted by the architect were there in black and white and so collectively we had all missed it. Whilst definitely frustrating, we’ve put this hard lesson down to all being part of the learning process.

In short, the good news is that we can buy it, but the bad news is that we now have to revisit our plans for this property and ultimately what can be achieved. We are still going to proceed with the sale, as it is a fairly straight forward refurbishment to six bedrooms on which the numbers still work. We are still investigating the potential and implications of going larger and are most thankful to both Kim Thorogood and the PPP planning team for their thoughts and guidance in helping us to work this out.

On the bright side, the first property (an existing six-bed HMO that we are converting to a 10-bed HMO) is moving along swimmingly. We are in the process of finalising the refurbishment spec and can then start to get prices from builders and tradesmen. It’s likely we’ll have the keys for this property in about three weeks, so that’s great.

This means that by default rather than design, we may have a little breathing space before getting the keys for the other property. However, with the second being a smaller property and if we only go for six bedrooms, it’s likely that it will be finished before the first one. That said, if we do try and make the second property bigger, then … decisions, decisions, decisions!

At the moment, it’s full on, but nothing more than we expected!"

Read the next Partner Diary from Liam -

Partner Diary - Our first planning application

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