There is a fine line as an investor between saving money on housing issues that come up and paying someone to handle the services for you. There is not much that will get an investor in trouble quicker than getting in over their heads with work they are not qualified to do. What may appear to be an easy electrical fix can open up a can of worms and make a minor issue something much bigger. If you are looking to keep your costs down, you need to look at the work that needs to be done and evaluate if this is something you can do or would be wise to pay to have it done.
As a rule of thumb, anything involving the structure, electrical or plumbing should be done by someone that knows what they are doing. Even if you come from a handy background, taking on a project out of your comfort zone is asking for trouble. If you want to save money, look to do things that are cosmetic in nature or could take a 5 minute YouTube video to learn.
The first area you could easily do yourself is painting. Obviously, if you are talking about exterior painting or painting an upscale property with a lot of cutting, you may want to leave that to a professional painter. However, if you are looking to freshen up a rental property, all it would take from you is a few gallons of paint, some tape, a tarp and your time. Like most things, painting is something you get better at the more you do. For a few rooms without the ceiling, you could be looking at paying a painter a few hundred dollars at least. However, as an investor, you need to make sure you are spending your time on what is important. You need to make sure your time wouldn’t be better spent elsewhere.
Aside from painting, you should focus on areas that your tenants will call you on most. Clogged toilets, leaky faucets, broken door knobs and other basic seasonal maintenance are the most common tenant issues. You don’t have to be a plumber to tackle a clogged toilet. In most cases, a simple $15 snake and a two gallon bucket will do the trick. Paying a plumber to go to the house and do basically the same thing will cost you a few hundred dollars.
The most important tool you need when changing a door handle is patience. Even if you are not comfortable with a screw driver, all you need to do is follow the directions on the box and pick up the tiny screws which you will drop half a dozen times. While you are at the house changing the door knob and locks for your new tenants, you can grab a wrench and tighten the handles under the sink. You don’t need to be a carpenter to the little things that add up with your property. Patching small holes, changing filters, painting and just knowing how to handle a screwdriver can save you hundreds of dollars over the course of the year.
If you are intimidated by this work, start on areas, that if you screw up, are an easy fix. Most of the items mentioned fit this mold. If you purchase a do it yourself book, you don’t have to know how to do everything, but if you are looking to save money you should know how to handle the basics.