How landlords can reduce the maintenance costs of their properties

How landlords can reduce the maintenance costs of their properties

Landlords haven’t had it easy lately. Rising mortgage rates, strained renter affordability and increasing pressure to invest in green home improvements mean landlords are tighter than ever on their budgets.

Add to this the unexpected costs of repairs that hit every property owner. Tiles eventually crack, shower doors deteriorate with limescale buildup, and baseboards need replacing—and those things can get expensive.

Research by the National Residential Landlords Association found that landlords spend about a quarter of their rental income on property maintenance.

But the smartest homeowners cut their maintenance costs by 25 percent by collecting building materials that would otherwise end up in a trash can.

Lancashire’s Chris Naylor owns several rental properties and estimates he has saved thousands by repurposing redundant toilets, sinks and insulation board from local construction work and storing them for future use. He does this with an app called Sustainability Yard, a Facebook Marketplace-style platform where users can sell unwanted leftovers from home improvement projects or just give them away for free.

Naylor, 50, admits he’s never used the app to sell and instead collects as much unwanted material as he can save for future use

“I once got a load of tiles from a designer house where they bought too many because they calculated it in meters and ordered it in feet, so they had twice as many as they needed,” he says. “They missed the 30 day window to bring it back to the supplier so I picked them up for free – now they’re in the shed.”

Saving building materials has alerted Naylor to the high cost of essentials such as plasterboard (£50 per panel), insulation (£78 per panel) and chimney pots (£250 each). A recent bungalow refurbishment, he says, was supposed to cost £20,000 but has been brought down to £15,000 using recycled materials.

“A lot of people are getting a little more eco-conscious, but the main reason is the high prices for skips and disposal of stuff,” he says. “And you don’t want excess stuff hanging around the house while contractors try to figure out a way to sell it.”

Much of the material Naylor has salvaged from other homes is already showing signs of wear, such as a trio of French doors which he estimates were worth £2,400 when new. But most of it can be restored with simple DIY jobs.

“I also have six solid oak doors,” he said. “They would have cost £200 each new but they had a few cracks – but with a little wax they were fine.”

More than 15,000 users are logged into Sustainability Yard after more than 4,000 downloads last week.

Radiators, plasterboard, bricks, building blocks, roofing materials and insulation are the most commonly traded items in the app. It’s estimated that users who whip out excess material save 30 percent on the cost of skipping. The traded materials are up to 80 pieces cheaper than new, while 30 pieces are free, a spokesman said.

For Naylor, repurposing other people’s scrap has changed the way he approaches his own renovations. “Recently I had two feet of spare baseboards from a project I would have previously dumped in a container,” he says. “Now I’m saving something so I can use it for the next job.”

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