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I expect you have heard of property developer, entrepreneur and TV presenter Sarah Beeny. As she explained in a recent interview in The Daily Telegraph, she knew that she wanted to go into property development from a young age.

While friends and contemporaries were studying hard at university, Sarah was checking out the property market and by her mid-20s had an established property development business. A chance meeting and conversation at a hen party resulted in a successful screen test and when her first TV show Property Ladder appeared her career really took off.

Although Sarah outsources the electrical and plumbing work to professionals, she has always been happy to tackle most renovation works herself. If you are a landlord thinking of renovating a property prior to letting, here are Sarah’s top tips to avoid disaster:

• By far, the majority of renovation disasters are caused by not budgeting properly. A classic error, for instance, is to forget to include fixtures and fittings in a budget. Make certain you have clear guidelines set out with any contractor so that you are sure who is providing what.

• Sticking with finance, always have a contingency fund. Sarah recommends 20% of the overall budget to cover any unexpected developments and changes.

• Another common problem is spending too much on one area at the expense of another. In a total house renovation Sarah suggests you firstly need to ensure the property is dry and secure and then focus on the roof and electrics. Everything else, even plumbing, is secondary.

• Don’t follow fashions and trends. You need to make sure your property will still be easily let in 25 years’ time and not look horribly out of date.

• Finally, remember that the most important structural elements of a house are the walls and chimney breast. Do not attempt to remove them without having a survey carried out first by a structural surveyor.

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