Tips and advice when renovating a Buy-to-Let.

I purchased a one bedroom ground floor flat in Gorgie, Edinburgh last November with a plan to refurbish and rent it out. The property was in total disrepair. The previous owner had passed away and her son was selling the property. I viewed the flat on a wet and cold November evening and I could tell from the son who was carrying out the viewings that he was keen for a quick sale.

You can see from the photos that the property needed a lot of work. I went through the usual headaches with lenders checking everything twice and wanting to know everything about my personal finances and affordability. I instructed Kevin Robertson who owns The Mortgage Specialist in Edinburgh to handle my BTL application.  His expertise in dealing with BTL mortgage applications was invaluable and I highly recommend his services.I already had a decision in principle from Birmingham and Midshires so an offer was put in the following day and accepted very quickly.

Completing the purchase in late November meant I was going to hit a slow period over Christmas and New Year when the trades industry shuts down. My target for completion was the end of January and with a full refurb to do time scales were tight.

It’s very important when renovating a property that you have a sequence of works and that you stick to it. Delays will, of course, occur. For example, my plasterer lost the keys to his van which had his equipment inside. This delayed things for 4 days and I ended up having to find a new plasterer.


If you are not experienced in property development and have had no prior dealings with tradesmen it is worth asking friends and family for recommendations.

Having owned ACE Property Management for 10 years I have built up a good stock of reliable tradesman and I’m always glad to recommend their services.

Ask for quotes and how long it will take to complete a job before anything is agreed. Getting a price upfront usually means that the electrician or plumber will not drag the job out and will want to move onto their next project as quickly as possible.

The trades I used-

Damp Proofing– As the property was a ground floor flat there were signs of moisture on the outer bedroom wall. This was treated and re-plastered. A pacifier vent was installed in the bedroom and lounge to increase the circulation of air throughout the flat.

Plumber– required to disconnect everything for the rip out. Reconnected the appliances in the kitchen along with installing the kitchen sink, shower and bathroom sink.

Electrician– to install electric heaters, connect kitchen appliances, refit lights, install smoke detectors in the hall and lounge as well as carrying out the nessesary safety checks.

Joiner- installation of the kitchen and odd jobs where required.

Window fitters- the old windows were removed and new double glazed units installed

Plasterer– some walls were damaged and needed a smooth coat to improve the new decoration

Decorator– papering and then painted walls, woodwork and ceilings throughout.

Carpet fitter- Vinyl flooring in the kitchen area and bathroom and carpets elsewhere.

Don’t expect to call a plumber and have him pop round that day. Plan ahead and book in advance.

The flat was completed January 23rd and new tenants moved in January 30th on a 6 month short assured tenancy paying £550.00pcm.

I advertised the property on  and along with ACE Property giving the flat exposure on , a shop window card on Bruntsfield Place and a “To Let” board at the property.

The flat is located in a popular area for young professionals and students so there was interest quickly and a deposit was put down after the first viewing.

Start of a tenancy

On entry I took dated photos throughout the flat, meter readings and provided the tenants with a written inventory. You must take time when setting up a tenancy because you will need your inventory and photos should there be problems during the tenancy or once the tenants move out.

Their deposit has been registered with Letting Protection Scotland  and the property has been added to the City of Edinburgh Council Landlord Registration database.

There are many things that landlords need to be aware of when renting a property, from safety checks to deposit registration. Don’t think you can just move tenants in and collect the rent each month. Seek advice on current and changing regulations from experts who can guide you through the red tape and avoid any unexpected issues further down the line.

At ACE Property Management we have been renovating flats throughout Edinburgh for years and welcome the opportunity to meet landlords who require advice and guidance. We are happy to recommend our tradesman and enjoy getting a property to completion then sourcing quality tenants.


Alex Evans

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