Renovating old pieces of furniture for profit. Well, intended at least!

Don't do it. Recently I've had a spate of enthusiasm for my fat bike build. To raise funds I've been selling our furniture. Not all of it, just stuff that's a bit old. Drawer units the kids have drawn on, that kind of thing. However, there's no money in drawn on tat. There is money in renovated stuff though. Do the minor repairs, sand it, paint it, make it look flash, sell it.

It's relatively easy, just a bit involved, a bit messy. It's also not hugely financially viable if you are doing it for profit. I've so far fixed and sold three items, all little drawers really. Remove stickers, fix broken trim or replace the tops. Sand, paint, sell, rake in the cash.

Except you don't rake in so much cash as you'd like, not really. Paint is £30 a litre these days. Ouch. One item can use up half a tin, call it £15. Repairs? Again a new top, you are looking at £15. From then on in it is just time. Now if you are like me, with kids, what time do you have? Riding time, that's what. Instead of being out riding, I'm tarting up junk to sell. That kind of hurts a little, and is slightly demotivating.

There's also the question of delivery. I've worked out that if a buyer collects, they generally don't bother or want a mad time. 2am Thursday? Er.... If I offer to deliver free within ten miles, the item will sell for a little bit more; call it £5. Plus they pay 100% of the time. Hassle of delivery v. Hassle of nobody bothering to pay? Your choice, but I chose delivery.

How much have I been making?

Well assume the furniture has no value to begin with. It may even have negative value as house clearance people charge these days. I'll start with £0. £30 on fixing it up. So before it goes on-line to sell, I'm £30 down. More if I have to buy a tool to do the repair.

The repairs and painting. Just my time, eh? No cost there. Hmm. Take the wardrobe. Top had warped, bottom had split, some trim had come away, the hanging rail was very poor, needed to be replaced. Sand it, paint it, sell it.

Except the repairs took three hours to do. Painting took four coats, plus a final sand and wax. That took two days. And don't forget, I don't own a garage or workshop, so the wardrobe had to be humped around.

The wardrobe took two days out of my life, plus £40 in materials. It'll probably sell for around £100. Is your labour really only worth £30 a day? Mine isn't.

Wardrobes are bad things to sell. Yet this was balanced by selling a little television stand. Used the paint I bought for the wardrobe, and sold it for £120. Total outlay to me around £10 paint. The tv stand I painted whilst waiting for the wardrobe to dry, so in a sense zero time cost. Both items together, done at the same time, meant my two days netted me £170. Not quite halfway to my forks, and £85 per day income. That's still less than my day job pays, but more than I think I'd pay to go out on a ride. Not much more mind.

I'm on a mission to get my bike up and running, and selling stuff we own is my only way of getting there. But by heck it's a long and boring road. You try spending 6 hours painting on a sunny Sunday. That's tough, really tough.

It kind of makes me wonder how much money can be made buying and selling furniture. I'm guessing not much if you do it this way. Repairs and renovations cost a lot, an awful lot. I've worked out my four items all needed around £30 spending on them. They sold for just over £80 each on average. A nominal £50 profit, £200 in the bank.

What if I'd had to buy each item? I looked on eBay and Gumtree. Some stuff is cheap. Cheap as in junk. Need things that have heft, that are made from wood. Didn't find much for less than £30. So buying and renovating for profit? £20 per item for all that work? None starter that way, the auction way. Yet looking at local shops, similar items that I've been selling are priced up at £200 to £400. Wonder if they sell at that level? Wonder if I've been supplying shops! Bet I have.

If you want to buy and sell, by all means do. All my stuff sold, and sold at good prices. At face value I made some money. Dig a bit and you'll notice I made not much more than chump change. Luckily chump change can, and does, buy bike bits. It'd not put much food onto the table though.