When The Cat’s Away, The Mice Will Play!

When building our property portfolio my partner and I realised early on that we wanted flexibility and the ability to work from anywhere. This month our hard work paid off. For those that read my update last month, you’ll know that we are entering the final stages of our latest HMO conversion. However, this month we spent most of our time abroad. It was our first extended family holiday with our one-year-old daughter and that was a shock to the system in itself. Anybody who has been on holiday with a baby will know exactly what I mean!

Anyway, the building team still weren’t finished when we left for our holiday so we had to look at how we managed an active team whilst away. As expected we had the usual horror stories whilst away; a break-in, the plumber putting a nail through critical pipework and causing a flood, oh and the painter fell out with the builder and decided to walk off the job! The reality is though that we spent very little time dealing with these issues (don’t forget we had a one-year-old to keep us busy). We used our former builder as a project manager for our current
builder. This worked really well and helped us get the consistency when it came to the finish. We are on great terms with our former builder and he was happy to step into the role.

However, whilst away I realised that the distance actually worked in our favour. Had we been on the ground the break-in and flood would have sucked up a lot of time that wasn’t actually required. Instead, by the time we received the information the plan of action was already in place and the project was moving forward again. We are now back and in the process of signing off the project.

This is the first HMO conversion I haven’t been involved with on a day-to-day basis and I have had to learn to allow others to make mistakes they can then learn from. It hasn’t been easy but it is starting to pay off.

Before I went away I also created some free videos on the topic of HMOs. I am constantly being asked about the lessons I have learned and thought it would be a good way to share my thoughts. Anyway, I set this up just before I went away as I was keen to test the technology and the team working in the background. As you will remember from last month’s diary entry I am always keen to use technology if and when I can. Within a few days a lot of emails went out in the wrong order and I then had to ask somebody to put some tweaks in.

I am sharing this with you because even though in many ways a lot of challenges came up in my absence it was a chance for us to see the cracks and put things in place to make the system stronger going forward. I meet a lot of investors who get into property investment because they are attracted to the freedom it can give you. However, when was the last time you tested
your systems in your absence and how did they cope?

In a weird sort of way, I like it when things don’t go to plan because it allows me to put a solution or workaround in place. I was away for just over three weeks and probably spent about two hours in total online managing my portfolio. The rest of my time was spent running after my daughter who is developing a rather strong will. I did take multiple books with me but I soon realised that family holidays are very different and I won’t be reading in peace for a while yet.

This article has been reproduced from the December 2017 issue of Property Investor News

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