All rental properties will require improvement, maintenance, and preventative maintenance as time goes by. Landlords with the proper knowledge, tools, and skills for basic improvement tasks have no trouble doing such. When taking a hands-off approach, it is vital to have several service providers’ contacts. Doing the work yourself reduces your dependence on the contractor’s schedule and saves you money.
On the other side of the coin property owners cannot make all the needed improvements themselves due to constrictions in equipment and expertise. In some cases, a landlord attempting certain repairs ends up costing them more than if they outsourced right from the beginning. There are improvements and repairs that landlords can do with simple tools and knowledge, and there are some that require people with certifications to handle. Note that some areas may overlap, but the difference comes in the extent of improvements and expertise required.
To put this into context, most people can change a tire as part of car repair, but not everyone can adjust valve timing. Both activities fall under vehicle maintenance but require different skill levels and tools to accomplish.
Home Improvement Projects That Landlords Should Do Themselves
- Basic plumbing. Some plumbing tasks indeed need professionally trained workers to accomplish. There are other improvements and repairs that landlords should handle themselves. Minor issues such as faucet leaks result in sink and tub stains, but they are simple to repair. Disassembly of the faucet and replacing a gasket or washer usually solves the issue. Depending on the model, this task has the potential to be so easy that following the manufacturer’s instructions or a simple YouTube video provides enough information to complete.
Drain and toilet clogs are simple enough for property owners to handle themselves. To avoid further damage to the property when plumbers are not immediately reachable, landlords should learn how to snake a drain, correctly plunge a toilet, and disassemble a P-trap. A P-trap is the U-shaped curve in the waste pipe connecting the sink’s drain to the septic tank or sewer apparatus.
- Electrical switch and outlet repair. Short circuits and flickering or dimming bulbs are problems that need professional attention. Having an electrician is helpful for your rental property in such situations. When switches or outlets do not function as expected because of minor issues, landlords can remedy the situation by tightening loose connections or replacing the broken apparatus. In 10 to 20 minutes, the device returns to normal function without spending any money. Landlords need to remember to switch the circuit breaker off before uncovering outlets.
- Drywall patching and replacement. As it is complex to repair impact damage to drywall via patching or joint compound, replacement presents the best remedy to water damage and/or mold. In both scenarios, landlords save money by knowing how to work the situation. Repairing drywall gets a bit messy sometimes, but it is a fairly elementary process. It’s also a good skill in your arsenal when preparing a unit for tenancy after a long residency.
Home Improvement Projects That Landlords Shouldn’t Do Themselves
- Complex electrical operations. As a precaution, landlords should not attempt any repairs that could cause the building to burn down. Past minor electrical improvements and repairs, amateurs with no training should not attempt complex electrical installations. Having some background working with electrical installations does not qualify one to take on every electrical task. Like the saying goes, “A little bit of knowledge in a field can often be the worst thing for you.” In contrast to the cost o repairs due to fire, hiring a qualified electrician saves landlords a fortune.
- Climbing a ladder to clean the gutters and getting on the roof to install new shingles are two very different undertakings. As much of a pain as it might be to go down to the property, carry a ladder around, and empty leaves from the gutters, getting on the roof is a whole different scenario. Here, experience is paramount as working on roofs entails a lot of muscle memory to keep you from falling. Tenants also have an eye for amateur work, and considering they must pay full price for rent, they also expect the level of workmanship on their house to be up to a certain standard.
- Chimney cleaning and repair. Fireplaces are nice assets to have in a house. For rental units, they attract tenants and increase occupancy rates while reducing vacancy time. Similarly to other amenities in a rental unit, tenants will not take care of fireplaces as well as homeowners would. Every winter, landlords should have their fireplaces professionally cleaned. This does much more than just vacuum the previous year’s debris and soot accumulation. Owing to the different allergies people have, it is not worth the risk of a tenant falling ill due to a dirty chimney and fireplace. This could result in landlords footing medical bills when they could have just hired a professional service for a fraction of the cost depending on the scenario. Even if they do not have to foot such a large bill, the reputation of the property diminishes from such occurrences.
Easy and basic repairs allow landlords to save money and time and afford tenants extra convenience. Tasks that the landlord can do perfectly pose no problem. The issues arise when they bite off more than they can chew and do a substandard job. The cost savings usually do not translate as soon enough, proper repairs will be needed. For landlords, it’s all about finding the appropriate ratio between what to outsource and what is achievable by themselves.