Neil Bell of Easy Bathrooms explains how you can maximise your return on investment from a bathroom refit, while ensuring that tenants are happy with the quality of the finish.
Whether you’re a private landlord with a handful of tenants to look after, or a social housing firm with thousands of properties on your stock, the issue of return on investment remains the same.
Reputable landlords and housing associations want tenants to feel at home, comfortable and at ease in their properties, and part of that is about installing good quality furnishings and fittings. However, it’s important to strike a balance between ensuring clients’ happiness, and not overspending; even for the ‘accidental’ landlords who’ve had property passed down to them and don’t consider themselves to be savvy investors.
When it comes to renovating an outdated bathroom, it’s difficult for most people to know where that balance lies — how much should you spend? Is it worth paying a bit more for quality, or should you do things on the cheap to save on the upfront investment?
The truth is that those who choose poor quality fittings, usually end up going back to a reputable supplier to rectify the situation. It’s therefore almost always better to invest in good quality fittings and finishes in the first instance. But that doesn’t mean that you need to splash out on the most on-trend furnishings.
In fact, tenants usually prefer basic, robust products that will last for the duration of their tenancy, rather than fittings that are flimsy or break easily. After all, are there many people who actually enjoy complaining to their landlords?
And that’s good news for you too, because keeping things simple means that you can appeal to a wider audience when you are on the hunt for a new tenant in the future.
So, it is best to invest in good quality, everyday fittings that are sold with a guarantee. That way, if anything does go wrong, the retailer will rectify it at no cost to you, reducing the price of the product over its lifetime.
But it’s not just the products themselves that you need to consider. It’s also vital to choose the right tradespeople to carry out the work. There’s no justification in purchasing good quality products and appointing an inexperienced, poor fitter to install them. Using trusted professionals means that the finish of the bathroom will look great and last longer too.
So when it comes to quality, the choice is clear; pick good standard products and great workmanship. But what about knowing what type of products and furniture to install?
For example, if space is tight, then should you fit a bath over a shower, or a full shower? Full height storage or an under-sink vanity unit? These are frequently asked questions, and the most important thing to consider when making these decisions is to focus on your target audience.
For example, fitting a bath in student accommodation might be a waste of time, but for families with young children, this could be a necessity. On the other hand, accessibility is often an important factor for local authorities and elderly, so grab bars and full showers could be something to think about.
If you’re not sure who your ideal tenant is, then look to the local area and consider the demand. If your property is a one-bedroom apartment in a city centre, the likelihood is that you want to attract young professionals. Whereas a three-bedroom semi-detached, close to a village, is more likely to be demanded by families. Sometimes, talking to an experienced estate agent will give you the best idea of your target client.
Once you know your audience, you can really start to plan what features this typical client would require from their bathroom. And if you get things right, it might even mean that you’re able to charge more rent per month — after all, the bathroom is a place where we spend a lot of our time, and it’s one of the main rooms that will help a potential tenant make their decision.
Then, once they’ve moved in, it’s important to look after and maintain the products that you’ve invested in. By carrying out regular — preferably annual — property checks, you can ensure that your tenant is looking after their bathroom, and if they report any damaged or faulty items, it’s important that you rectify it sooner rather than later.
That way, you’re not only keeping your client happy, but are safeguarding your property for the future, too.
Neil Bell is head of retail at Easy Bathrooms