Roy Lyu

How and when did you start property development

My family were already into rentals/buying/selling, and as a summer job I’d help paint and learnt from the old school decorators employed, it was really enjoyable so decided I would renovate and sell my first project in 1985 outside the family business. It seemed easy money at first but by 1987 the crash came and things slowed right down, so I joined the Met Police did 13 years with them and still carried on with properties, it was all declared and did most of the organising and decorating on my days off. I was doing 1-3 properties per annum and this escalated to 4-6 then more.  A career change was needed and I took an easier job running a gun manufacturing company for 15 years which gave me more free time to do larger projects.

I retired nearly 4 years ago and now very loosely ‘look after’ the main family portfolio of rental properties in London. We now have our own team dealing with the management and maintenance as this proved a huge saving to the outgoings per annum instead of using a management company.

What’s your favourite part of the job?

Finishing a job on time and to budget.

What’s your least favourite part of the job?

Seeing imperfections that nobody else would care about or notice.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?

To be able to fly and hover – I dislike heights for starters and it would save a fortune scaffold!

Tell us a funny story about a job:

We did a surprise refurb for a Royal Airforce Association veteran and his daughter asked if we could complete it in 2 weeks as she’d take her father away on holiday, so I pulled in the team, utilised left over materials from other jobs and we busted a gut to complete it, flawless finish, super smooth sprayed walls and trim, updated the bathroom and kitchen.

The day came for our veteran to return and we were still on site doing our own snag list… first through the door was a golden retriever with a guide dog harness…. then our chap came in scraping the walls for support with his walking stick….. we were then told he decided to move in with his daughter and he’d be selling his house and apologised he wouldn’t enjoy the work we carried out…. no worries I thought, so I purchased it!

I have since told my father who is an RAF veteran and organises our charity work to let us know in future who we are doing the work for next time !

If you won the lottery tomorrow, what would be the first 3 things you’d do with the money?

1. Make a full list of people I have met and know and like.

2. I’d ask all those people if they could help me out as I’m a bit desperate etc and see their responses.

3. Those who offer ‘to help me out’,  I’d divide all the money up and give it away to them!

If you weren’t a decorator / property developer, what would you

I would have worked in the luxury yacht market.

If you could go back in time and give yourself one piece of advice to make you a better businessman, what would it be?

Find the right balance of spending and investing.


Thanks again to Roy for answering my questions. Another great insight shared.

I am looking to talk to as many decorators as possible over the coming months so we can share knowledge and hopefully raise the profile of the industry as a whole.

If you would like to feature in ‘An interview with a decorator’ please contact me on jonmearsblogs@gmail.com , DM me on social media or via the contact page on my website.


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