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Should You DIY Your Property Maintenance and Repairs?

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One thing that is constant with rentals is the need to perform regular maintenance and repairs. The question that comes up, however, is whether you should perform the maintenance and repairs yourself or outsource them.

If you are a first-time landlord, it might be tempting to do all the maintenance and repairs yourself. After all, doing it yourself could potentially save you some money in the long run. While you might be tempted to do it all on your own, it is important to go a little deeper to fully understand the question before you make the decision. While you might be able to perform the repairs, there is a lot more that goes into the process than being able. 

When it comes to doing your own maintenance and repairs, there are some questions you should ask yourself before making the final decision. Here are a few things you should consider. 

See: DIY Landlords: What to Do When You’re in Over Your Head

Things to Consider When Doing Your Own Maintenance and Repairs on a Rental

Do You Have the Time?

Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. Most property owners have other jobs aside from being a full-time landlord and adding one more task onto your plate can be a lot. This is especially true if you own more than one property. Each property will inevitably require some maintenance and repairs, and keeping up with them all can suddenly leave you needing to perform a lot of work. Take the time to consider how much time you will need to spend on each property and ask yourself if you have the time to devote. 

Looking for some more time management techniques? Be sure to read: Time Management Techniques for Landlords, for some tips on saving time as a landlord. 

Do You Have the Knowledge? 

Another question to ask yourself is do you have the knowledge? Have you done these repairs before? A lot of people feel that if they watch a few videos or have seen someone do the repairs once before, they know how to do it themselves. While this might be true, you need to ask yourself if you have the knowledge needed to perform the repairs in a timely fashion. There is nothing wrong with learning a skill or doing tasks if you know how, in fact, it can be a great way to save money, but it is also important to know when to draw the line if you don’t already have the knowledge.  

How Urgent Is It? 

This is a good way to gauge whether or not you should deal with the repairs yourself. If the repairs are urgent and need to be done immediately, you might consider hiring someone to do them for you. That is unless you are 100% confident in your skills. For instance, if a pipe has burst and water is gushing out, now might not be the best time to ‘give it a try’ and figure it out yourself. Calling a professional will be cheaper than all the damage that the water will do while you wait. 

How Risky Is It? 

Certain repairs come with a certain risk, not all repairs are created equal. There are some repairs that could be potentially risky. This includes things such as gas leaks, water leaks, repairs that could result in electrical hazards, or those that would expose you to mold or asbestos. These repairs should be left to the professionals. Regardless of how experienced you are, there are just some repairs that shouldn’t be dealt with by anyone but experts.

Are the Repairs Expensive? 

Some repairs appear to be simple, but once you tear into them, they become more expensive. It’s also important to calculate that many repairs will need specific tools and materials. If you don’t know what you are doing, the repairs could take much longer than intended as well. The longer it takes, the more expensive the project becomes, and oftentimes, the more extensive the damage is. In many cases, it is cheaper to hire a professional first, rather than attempt to do it yourself, create a bigger problem, and then call the professionals. 

Do You Need to Hire a Licensed Contractor? 

Finally, you should ask yourself if the repairs require a licensed contractor to perform them. Before you start the project, it’s important to do a quick search to see if this specific repair is something you are even able to do. In certain cases, certification is required in order to perform repairs to help keep you from hazards or risks. Some of the most common areas of question are electricians, plumbers, and anything that could be considered an environmental hazard. It’s also important to note that there are often permits that must be obtained before performing repairs. A licensed contractor will be able to help keep you in the clear in this area as well. 

Asking these questions will help give you a better understanding of whether or not you can perform the repairs. But there are still a few other things you should take into consideration before making the final call.  

Know Where to Draw the Line

Regardless of if you know how to do a lot of repairs or know very little about maintenance and repairs, you need to know where to draw the line. The line that says you will call for help the minute you get the call about a specific repair. This will look different for everyone depending on skill, time, knowledge, and desire to perform (or not perform) said repairs. Find the line, make it clear, and stick with it.

Wondering how to handle maintenance requests as a landlord? Consider reading: A Beginners Guide to Maintenance Requests, for some helpful ideas. 

Put Together a Team 

It is important that you put together a team of professionals who you can call on when those phone calls come in. Especially for those areas that you aren’t comfortable performing repairs in or those areas that are outside your comfort zone. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have a team together for those other areas as well, just in case you are busy or unable to perform certain tasks. Here are a few people you should make sure you have on your team, or at least have on speed dial:

  • Plumber – Having a good plumber you can trust can be a lifesaver. When that pipe bursts in the middle of the night or pipes are backing up, and water is gushing all over, you need to know that the person you call is responsive and knowledgeable. 

  • Electrician – Electrical issues can be dangerous if you don’t know what you are doing. While electrical repairs may look simple, a small electrical malfunction can have devastating results on your property. Don’t attempt to do anything involving electrical components if you don’t know exactly what you are doing. 

Don’t wait until an emergency strikes to find a good plumber or electrician, find them now, so you have their numbers handy when you need them. Ask around for recommendations from those you trust. Once you find someone you are comfortable working with, be sure to ask to see their licenses and proof of insurance, as well as references that you can call and check out. 

Know When to Call a Professional Plumber 

When it comes to plumbing, there is a lot that can go wrong. While there are certain tasks that you might be able to do on your own, such as replacing a toilet handle or unclogging a drain, there are other tasks that you should probably call the professionals in for, regardless of if you think you can handle the tasks or not. Here are a couple of tasks that you should outsource:

  • Water Heater Replacement 

Water heater replacements or repairs require someone who knows what they are doing. It is not recommended that anyone work on them or replace them without proper knowledge of what they are doing or without proper guidance. A simple project can become a big disaster if not handled properly. 

  • Main Line Issues 

Whenever a toilet starts backing up into the tub or shower, there is a good chance that there is a blockage in the main line. This is a bit more advanced than unclogging a toilet or drain and requires special equipment to unclog. Calling in the plumber is cheaper than buying all the specialized tools needed to unclog the main line. 

  • Additions 

Anytime you add to a property, such as adding new water lines or additional fixtures, a permit is usually required. Meaning that you should call in the professionals to get the job done right. If you are planning to expand, move water lines or add new lines, then call in the professionals.

Know When to Call a Professional Electrician 

Hiring an electrician is often the safest option when it comes to doing electrical repairs. In many cases, permits are required as well, which means that hiring an electrician is really, your only option. Here are a few examples of when you should call in the professionals when it comes to electrical issues. 

  • New Wiring 

Running new wiring or replacing old wiring with new is a job best left to the professionals. There are a lot of requirements when it comes to replacing electrical wiring, and it isn’t something that should be done by someone who’s just learning. New wiring or replacement wiring requires connecting wires to the breaker box and can be a dangerous job if you don’t know what you are doing. Electricians go through extensive training to ensure their work is safe and thorough. 

  • Non-Working Outlet

An outlet that isn’t working could be caused by a number of different reasons. Checking the breaker box for a blown fuse is one step you can take before calling in the professionals, but other reasons could be faulty wiring or other complex issues that are best left to the professionals.

  • Dimming Lights 

Lights that are dimming or flickering could be an indicator of an appliance pulling too much current and causing a drop in voltage, a circuit issue, or potentially faulty wiring. It requires a professional to identify the issue and fix it in a way that is safe.

Electrical is not something that should be tampered with by those who don’t know what they are doing and isn’t really something that you should practice with. There is a lot of voltage running through your wires, and one wrong move could be disastrous. 

At the end of the day, only you can determine whether or not you should perform maintenance and repairs on your property. Knowing the risks and weighing your options is an important part of making this decision, but in the end, you have to decide what is best for you and your rental. 

If performing maintenance and repairs isn’t in your wheelhouse, then it is important that you have a plan for getting them done in a timely fashion. Remember that making repairs quickly is one of the best ways to keep your tenants happy, not to mention that many states require landlords to perform repairs within a reasonable amount of time. 

Finding it a challenge to keep up with everything on your own? Consider hiring a property manager to help reduce your workload and stress. Check out the Renters Warehouse hassle-free property management services, and get started today.

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