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How to Refurbish Your Airbnb Property Cheaply

Do you know why refurbishing your Airbnb, booking.com or other short-term rentals cheaply is a good thing? Because obviously every pound or dollar you over-spend on renovations eats directly into your profits, and in a business where margins are tight. There is a fine line between massive success and massive failure.

In this post, we have tried to share with you our experience about how you can refurbish your Airbnb property cheaply but still give the customer a great experience.

Generally, when you are refurbishing your Airbnb apartment on a smaller budget, your focus should be on making small changes that have a more significant overall impact. Consider between alternatives to choose which one best fits the context. For example, consider a bare wall, and consider the impact, pf a simple, nicely framed piece of art on that wall. Or consider this: A shower room with dirty tile group, and chips in the shower-pan or the bath; or freshly cleaner shower grout, and sparkling tiles. What a difference that would make. Don’t you think?

Here, we have over 30 ways of dramatically improving your apartment or rental, without breaking the bank.

(And we’ve tried them all, so trust me, they work!).

Recycle & Reused “Old: Items

For example, if you’re changing a door, of course depending on the style of your property, there are ample free resources on the internet. Freecycle.com is such a suite in the UK where people advertise their unwanted things completely free. All you have to do is collect.

However equally, if you renovating your door, for example, you might choose to buy a new door, but the door furniture (old doorknobs, hinges etc) might well be as good as new if you give them a little TLC. So why buy new if you don’t have to? Every little helps. The same goes for furniture. You don’t need to spend a fortune on a new sofa, for example, when if it happens to have washable covers, they can simply be washed. Or even if it doesn’t have washable covers there may very well be a way of cleaning items of furniture to make them look new.

Sell Things that You Don’t Need

This simply makes sense. We would not be business people if we did not try to maximize the amount of money you have leftover after a refurbishment project is complete. There are various sites on the internet where you can list your unwanted items for sale

Remember too that websites, previously quoted, like freecycle.com may offer the acquirer something for free, but how much would it have cost you to take it to the rubbish dump. I recently gave away a 20-year-old fridge for $0, but the fact is that it would have cost me $60 to have it taken away. Total win-win.

Professionally Clean the Carpet 

One thing that made a huge difference to our apartments was in opting for medium to high-quality carpet. This only makes sense as you will have such a high “foot-fall”.

However, our second great investment was on quite a high-end carpet cleaner. Ours has a warm-water tank, a solution tank and a wastewater tank (so it’s quite good), and honestly, this has made a huge difference. I could not believe the amount of dirt it improved in one area of one room, and we had this working for hours.

Once the whole apartment had been cleaned (and yes it did take 3-4 hours), and the carpet had dried, the visible difference and the smell well amazing. If was just like having new carpets again.

On a price per machine/external carpet cleaner comparison, the machine costs about $140, whereas the call-out and service for a carpet cleaning company would have been $100. So it made its money back after it’s first 1.5 uses.

Resurface the Bathroom rather than Reconstructing it

The reason that taking care of the bathroom is important is it’s another “yuck” area, or more specifically, it’s another area where people will clean, use the toilet and wash, and it just has to be clean.

We did an experiment a couple of years ago.

We have over 6 bathrooms, so we did the following:

In Apartment A, we cleaned and re-grouted the tiles, painted the walls, ensured the basin and toilet were (very deep cleaned), bought a new toilet seat, and added a fresh covering to the floor.

In Apartment B, we stripped everything out, added a modern toilet and hand basin, added a new shower and of course retiled everything.

As before on satisfiedsleepers.com we ran a survey, where we called all guests post-stay after for the month following the renovations.

The strange thing was, although the results of the survey were roughly even, people made comments about Apartment A’s bathroom like:

“How nice to see you keeping your property in good shape”

“It’s nice to see original features, well looked after”

“Have you had the shower-room re-tiled”

Yes, it’s true they also liked Apartment B, but it was more of a “Meeh” response. In other words, sure it was nice, but nothing really special (even though it was of the same standard as Apartment A.

Or yes sure it was lovely and new. (but that was it).

In short, what I am concluding from the comments of these guests (we survey 50) is that although generally, their scores were equal for both apartments, when asked, their responses were more positive for the refurbished bathroom rather than the new bathroom. So, I asked some of our regular guests: “Look more people responded more favourably to a refurbished bathroom than a completely new one”;

This was the reply: “Sure we understand that you’ve refurbished your bathroom [in Apartment B] but what we like even more in Apartment A is that you take such good care of it. We know it’s not new, but it does look knew, and to be honest we like that even more than your job on Apartment B. It shows you care

I was quite astounded by this reply, but on giving it some reflection after a few hours, maybe less astounded: You see what guests what is to show that you care about your property. That it’s your pride and joy. It isn’t about the $ value you spend on doing up your bathroom, it’s how it looks when it’s done.

Key Summary on Bathrooms:

  • Y need to work on your bathroom at least every five years.
  • Excessive renovation is probably not necessary: Breaking down walls, fixtures and flooring will cost big-money at least a couple of thousand dollars.

You can make your bathroom like new by following these simple tips:

  • Re-grout your tiles.
  • For a nice effect repaint your tiles’ grout with a different colour white tiles and grey looks nice.
  • Lino flooring can look great (like tiles) is easy to clean, and cheap to buy and fit.
  • A Bath or Shower pan can be cheaply and easily resurfaced. There are many fits available on Amazon for example.
  • Avoid “heavy” renovations where you have to call a plumber. They are expensive.
  • Update the Emulsion paint any areas of your bathroom that just require paint.
  • Gloss paint your doors (makes them look lovely and shiny).
  • Buy cleaning solution for taps and metal items in sinks. They will cost a $1-2 (or pounds etc) and make your tap and plug-hole look like new.

Remove things that Houseguests Don’t Want to See

Generally, your best bet is to opt for a minimalist look. I know for a fact that guests do absolutely not want to find personal or family photos (I’m talking here about when you’re letting a whole apartment or house). They want:

  • A Neat and tidy property
  • Good directions as to where things are (remember they have never been there before)
  • Clean and nicely main bedding,
  • Clean bathrooms
  • The basics of electronics (TV, Internet etc).
  • Quick, easy and hassle-free entrance to your property.
  • That is it. If you do that, you have succeeded.

Inexpensive Things that Make a Big Impression

Many things don’t cost a lot of money but have a massive impact on how a property looks. Here are some of them:

Paint

Paint is one of the few things that tenants directly notice, and notice fast So, you will need to ensure that the colours in your house are never worn-out. The best advice I could ever give anyone is stick with plain white. You can achieve “colour” in other ways, through pictures or perhaps a throw on the sofa.

Here are some tips about painting your house while renovating it:

Painting the Front Door 

The front door is your first impression. A good front door creates a positive vibe at the first instance a person looks at your property.  This heavily increases their chance of people having a great first impression.

See this article from Zillow

(http://zillow.mediaroom.com/2018-06-20-Homes-with-Tuxedo-Kitchen-Cabinets-and-Black-Front-Doors-Can-Sell-Up-to-6-000-More-than-Expected). It says that homes with Black Front Doors Can Sell Up to a Price $6,000 More than expected. Quirky maybe, interesting definitely!  

Of course, this might sound far-fetched, but actually it’s not. As you can see, black is an attractive option for something like doors. Additionally, human psychology generally assumes a good first impression will lead to a good “next thing” (the reverse is also true).

Matching Wall Colors According to the Vibe

People don’t see wall colours – they feel them. So you must give out positive energy from the way you paint your walls. For example, red, for example, is generally a colour that will not make people feel calm. Blue can be a soothing colour, and thus can be a perfect fit for the bedroom or the living room. Yellow is more of cheerful colour and green is something between yellow and blue. However, one thing to remember with any colour other than white is likely to make space seem smaller.

Key tips:

  • Consider white, with a “feature wall” (one wall painted a different colour) to liven things up without giving a feel of a lack of space.
  • Consider white, with colours dotted around your space, for example tasteful, colourful pictures, or a coloured throw for your sofa.

Keep Your House Clean

Clutter is a big no-no if you want your property to make an impact on the Airbnb listing. We are not only talking about dust or mites, of course. You should also put things that take unwanted space away. People generally like “minimalism”. Think about your customer – what they want to see, and what they would rather not have in your apartment.

Never overlook these aspects of keeping your property clean:

Walls: You don’t want dirt or stain. Wipe your walls if any of them appear. You can’t repaint them every time there is a small blemish.

Tip: There are different types of paints for various conditions. For example, matt paint is a stylish, non-shiny feel, which might suit a  living room. On the other hand gloss paint (oil-based) makes doors and woodwork look amazing (you must use a layer of emulsion or undercoat first)..

Windows: Spots in the windows are not attractive to see, whereas clean glass looks fantastic. You must clean the windows regularly. While doing this, don’t forget the woodwork, window sills, or behind the sofas!

Household Appliances and Fixtures: A television doesn’t look good with a thin coat of dust on it. People will see this and may comment on this. And of course, a big one is the refrigerator. This is where people keep the stuff they put in their mouths, so this must be clean!

While cleaning your expensive electronics, don’t forget your shelves, lamps and other fixtures. Dirty ones will put off visitors and pay elicit negative feedback.

Floors: How often do you mop? Do you vacuum? If the answer isn’t “after every guest” you need to change that!

Kitchen: Stains can often appear in the kitchen. You must deep clean these if you want people to be impressed with your Airbnb property. Clean the sink and drain, stoves, and other fixtures. You can buy bags which you put your oven shelves in to leave overnight and they come out brand new for a couple of dollars or pounds.

Bathroom: This is what many owners miss out on. They don’t put a lot of attention to the bathroom. Fair to say, many properties in Airbnb have mould in their shower. This isn’t hard to clean, so clean it. It’s easy to repair and revive old tile grout, and it’s also relatively easy to resurface a bath. But always remember that the bathroom is a key “contact point” for guests, so make it nice.

Keep All of Your Rooms Spacious:  You don’t necessarily need big rooms if you can manage the space, and indeed it’s not hard to make small rooms appear bigger.

This applies to all the rooms in your house. Remember, open places look more attractive, whereas cramped spaces are very claustrophobic.

Use Art

Of course, an artist’s work can sell for millions. But at the same time, you can get paintings for far less. There are many websites you can order prints from, and then all you need to do is by nice, simple frames from Ikea or Amazon, and you suddenly have tasteful decoration for nothing.

Indoor Plants

Plants are a great way to fill a corner and to make any space feel cosy and calm. One or two indoor plants will not only help increase the beauty but will also convert carbon dioxide inside your house into oxygen, ultimately purifying the air and making it feel fresh! But let’s face it, they’re a nice touch and an easy win.

Also, a vase with fresh flowers in it is a wonderful touch that many of our guests have appreciated. Having one in your living room won’t cost a lot, but will make a huge difference.

Light Effectively

Another thing that can help while refurnishing your Airbnb property cheaply is the lighting. Adding lights won’t cost much, and having the right designs will help you make a statement like nothing else. They don’t only make your rooms look brighter and more decorated, but they can also be a great way to mask smaller floor areas.

Your first priority should be to make use of the natural light as much as possible.

Key Points:

  • Use LEDs – they will save you a huge amount of money
  • Sidelights are much better than ceiling lights
  • Dimmable lights are nice too, but remember that you have to buy special dimmable LEDs.
  • Table lamps look elegant and stylish

Change Your Curtains and Rugs

The curtain is another budget fix. Match it with the colour of the painting in your room, and you get an extraordinary feel.

Besides that, think about the things that you don’t think about very often. Rugs and doormats are essential to give a house its best look. Cleaning and changing them will help you as an owner.

Key Points:

  • Less is more with curtains. Too heavy or too wide will make the room feel smaller.
  • Consider tasteful blinds as they take up less space
  • If you have large windows, shutters also look great

Outer Space

We have discussed indoors but let’s not forget that the outdoor environment of your space too (if you have one). Cut down overgrowing plants, align the garden beautifully, and sweep regularly – do everything you need to make your home look perfect from the outside.

Key Points:

  • Take care to ensure that any cigarette ends are removed immediately, as even smokers hate seeing these.
  • Make the outside easy to manage. Too many plants etc = high maintenance.
  • Make sure the outside is safe for Children.
  • If you have an outside make sure there is space for your guests to sit down.

Things that Airbnb Guests Hate

We have talked enough about what you should do to your Airbnb property. Now, here are some things you must absolutely avoid if you are to keep the visiting guests happy:

Bugs

Having mosquitoes, cockroaches, or mice in your home is an absolute no-no. You must get rid of them if you don’t want your guests to complain or give you negative reviews.

Bad Air Odor

An air purifier is one of the first things you get if you are thinking of renting out an Airbnb property. While buying one, make sure that it has a sufficient effective range and is not very loud.

Also, be aware that is you use scented wall plug-ins some guests may object to these, or may have allergies. Likewise, if you use bleach to clean the floor (or a product containing bleach), don’t use too much, as this will leave a horrid smell.

Temperature

Always make sure that the air conditioner or heating is working and set to an appropriate temperature before your guests arrive. This is especially important in mid-summer and mi-winter. Of course, you will need regular maintenance, but try your best to not get into a situation where you are fixing things in your property when there are guests, so make use of any local low-seasons to get key maintenance done.

Slow Drainage or Electric Switch Not Working

“Technical Problems” like these annoy people the most. Assure that problems like these are not lurking in your house, as they will affect the quality of your guests’ life. For example, a typical complaint can be hair in the shower hole. Pour down some drain unblocker every month to keep the water flowing nicely.

Slow WiFi

If guests are away from hope it’s highly likely they will want to talk to friends or family on Skype or Facetime. Invest in decent Wifi, and make sure it works (cables get unplugged!).

You could spend thousands of pounds/dollars to make your house look beautiful, but people are going to notice simple things like the lack of a good internet connection more.

Lack of Space

You must make enough space for your guests so that they can move around comfortably. You don’t need two chairs in their bedroom if one of them is blocking their way to the bath!

Final Words – Price is Not the Only Thing

As you can see, there are many things you can do to refurbish your Airbnb property at a lower price. Anyway, you must bear in mind that the price shouldn’t be your only consideration. For example, I bought a sofa-bed a year-ago thinking it would be nice and easy to use, but it was a sofa bed from a furniture retail store designed to be used once every 3 or 4 months. If you need a sofa bed, buy a hard-wearing one.


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