1. Review the Pest and Building Inspection in detail
When buying our holiday house the contract was subject to a building and pest inspection. There were no surprises in the inspection so the sale was approved.
Once we received the keys we started the process of getting the property ready for rental. Our plan has always been to obtain enough rental dollars that the holiday house would pay for all its bills including the mortgage.
In the first month of ownership we noticed that when we turned on the kettle in the kitchen. The fuse would blow and the air- conditioners would stop. On further investigation we found out that both air-conditioners were connected up via the power-points, so when we turned on the kettle the circuit couldn’t cope with the extra power needed.
After a thorough inspection from a licenced electrician. He gave us the bad news that the air-conditioners were illegally connected up, and they needed their own power from the electrical board. The cost another $2,500 to make it all legal. This was obviously missed in the building inspection.
There is an argument that I could have challenged the building inspector, but by the time you go about that process in my experience it costs you more in time or money. So you suck it up and keep moving forward and write it down to another learning.
2. Be proactive with your upgrades / maintenance
After the first year of ownership we noticed that 1 of the couches was starting to get worn, the leather looked tired and needed replacing. We had a number of projects going on at the same time and decided to replace the couch in the coming months. A week later, the next guest who visited our holiday house gave us a great review, apart from commenting on a couch that looked tired!
We kicked ourselves. That day we ordered a new couch.
I constantly look at ways to improve the holiday house, things like creating a space for all the tourist brochures, to installing a coffee pod machine for our guests.
Have you got a list of things to improve your holiday house that you can slowly conquer?
3. Make sure your plans for your garden can be delivered!
In the first few months we put a plan together to plant citrus trees, olive trees and lots of herbs. It was a hot summer. We asked our cleaner to water the plants when she cleaned. Over the next few months the popularity of the holiday house improved immensely. This meant we weren’t able to get to it as often, which meant the garden suffered and 30% of the new plants died.
Our next project in the garden was all about adding drought tolerant plants that thrived on neglect. So we have planted plenty of succulents through the garden and this has worked.
If you expect not to be there to look after your plants, i.e. water, fertilize and prune. Don’t plant anything that needs love at first to establish their roots.
4. Don’t let a designer say to you “trust me, it will be good”!
We got someone to help with the design work, getting all the colours right so the holiday house photographed well. Overall the colours were great, there was however areas that didn’t match the palate we were looking for. It’s a beach house so we wanted a beach theme. Our original idea of taking photos of the local area and getting them blown up on canvas was stopped by our designer. What went in its place were commissioned paintings that didn’t look great or work. Hence over the next couple of months they were slowly taken down and all were replaced by canvas photos. If you like something, stick to your guns!
5. You can always learn from your guests
We constantly ask for feedback on our guest’s experience. We try to anticipate any needs the guests might have such as pasta pot for pasta, herbs in the garden. So the holiday is seamless with all their needs met. Occasionally I get great constructive feedback to help improve the experience. One example was the upstairs 4th bedroom, it didn’t have any hanging system for clothes or a mirror. As the other 3 bedrooms were all set up for this, the 4th bedroom was used mainly for kids who didn’t need this. The problem comes around when a girl’s weekend book the holiday house, as the 4th bedroom is used by adults. The solution is easy, a $190 hanging system from Ikea installed in the corner and attached to the wall. A $40 mirror also from Ikea so guests can get ready in the bedroom.
I was also very surprised at how often the spa bath was used in the main bathroom. The use wasn’t what I had imagined it being used for, most families with small kids used the spa bath most nights as it was an added bonus with the bubbles.
How you anticipate guests using your holiday house isn’t always the way it is used.
6. Choose good quality furniture that will last
We needed to replace a couch as previously mentioned, we saw a cost effective option that suited the space. It was hundreds of dollars cheaper than the furniture it replaced but it seemed comfortable and sturdy. I took the delivery a week later and installed the couch. Within a week, 1 of the legs had broken off. On inspection, the base was made from cheap pine and the fixings were poorly positioned. After weeks of arguing with the retailer, they agreed to replace the couch. I accepted delivery and installed the second couch. 5 days later, the same problem occurred.
I gave up on contacting the retailer and formulated a solution by reinforcing the base with better quality timber and fixings. 6 months later, the couch hasn’t missed a beat. My advice would be to spend the extra money and go with quality furniture.
If you would like to know more about owning a holiday house or increasing the income from your holiday house you can contact me through happyhouz.com.au .I would love to hear from you.