HMO conversion: a case study

Bleak House lounge

Property investors Rhys Jackson and Alice Lacey talk through their first HMO conversion

By Angharad Owen, Co-editor.

Husband-and-wife team Rhys Jackson and Alice Lacey take unloved houses in and around Sheffield and turn them into desirable homes. In a recent article, we took a deep-dive into their first HMO conversion, which had an unbelievably tight deadline … and 40 fridges to remove.

Rhys and Alice have been investing in property since 2016, having originally focused on flips and the BRR model. Over the years, they have established an in-house team of contractors who work on their projects and also on refurbs for other investors.

Bleak House beforeThis property, a large, rundown Victorian terraced house, had been unofficially converted into three separate flats. The previous owner had been unable to keep up with the maintenance, and was therefore only able to attract the “less desirable” type of tenants. It had great potential, and Rhys and Alice already had corporate tenants lined up.

A 7-week project

They had just seven weeks to complete the HMO conversion, which involved clearing the property, going back to brick, replastering, a full rewire and new heating systems for four bathrooms. They learned a lot from this project, and many of the lessons can be applied to future refurbs. (Find out if they completed it in time and see a full breakdown of costs in the August 2021 issue!)

Will they do it again?

While they enjoyed the process of converting the property, they are unlikely to actively search for another of the same ilk. However, if the opportunity were to arise, they wouldn’t decide against it. Flexibility is key, and looking only for one type of opportunity could lead to missing others.

Before taking on this project, they had been hesitant to invest in HMOs due to the management involved. They are now considering taking on a member of staff to oversee the property management, and have also recently expanded their team to include a project manager to oversee the day-to-day operations of projects.

Bleak House after

As a couple who are in business together, they have separated their responsibilities according to their strengths. While Rhys does most of the project organisation and first fix, Alice is responsible for the initial design and second fix, and the background work such as admin, legals and the budget. They both enjoy sourcing and building relationships with investors.

Although they will happily discuss work in the evenings and on long car journeys, there is a boundary – they each prioritise having other hobbies to focus on and to help them switch off from work.

To read the full article, subscribe to YPN magazine.

For more about this project, watch Rhys and Alice explain some of the details to Ant Lyons in this video …

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