Many home owners keep detailed records of home repairs and improvements. They hire professionals or learn from a Pro, have copies of invoices, before and after pictures and have worked to keep their homes in tip-top condition. And then there are the others. The ones that don't.
Before working in property management software with Rentec Direct, I worked as a Property Manager for a variety of Landlord profiles. Every once in a while, a Landlord would call in and say "I think I can fix that myself..." to avoid paying a qualified contractor for a property repair when they had no true idea how to fix the problem. I would first roll my eyes (I did say this was a phone call...) and then I would work to educate them why it wasn't a wise choice. The few that insisted they do the work themselves typically resulted in botched-up fixes that frustrated the tenant and ultimately required a call to a qualified repair person. No one really wins in this scenario - lots of wasted time and energy and lost tenant retention. In home sales, this repair quality just stalls or kills a sale. What is the saying? An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure? Or I say ... it's money in the bank!
As a General Contractor, my husband comes across all sorts of Landlord DIY gone bad. I completely understand the DIY spirit and sense of economy, however there is a time and a place for hiring a professional verses a home-hack-job.
True-To-Life Landlord Fixes I've witnessed this month...
LEAKY WATER LINE UNDER HOUSE... Simple! Just ignore it. When the pipe freezes and busts at the leaky seam, simply leave the water running so the leaky pipe can't freeze solid. And ignore the standing water under the house for as long as possible.
LIVING ROOM STAIRWELL /SECOND FLOOR ACCESS DENIED BY BUILDING DEPARTMENT... Simple! Wait until after you've paid a contractor to sheet rock and paint over hole in ceiling and pass inspection and then rip it out and install a wonky staircase anyways. TA-DA!!
NO INSULATION FOR FREEZE PROTECTION... Simple! Leave a hose running all winter long, even if it creates an ice-skating rink in your yard.
BEAUTIFUL TREE IN FRONT YARD NEEDS A LIMB PRUNED... Simple! Cut the whole tree down.
REPLACE WATER LINES IN OLD HOUSE... Wait! You insulated against the interior of the home! Simple! Sheetrock over it so you can't see your mistake.
LINOLEUM MISSING TRANSITION STRIP... Simple! Just keep caulking and caulking and caulking until it forms a wedge so high it looks like a thresh hold.
SHEETROCK REPAIR? ... Simple! Toothpaste works just like drywall mud. Yeah....
LEAKY TOILET WAX RING... Simple! Just caulk around the toilet so the water leaks into the sub-floor instead of how it was intended. No one will know until the toilet falls through the floor.
I know there are some savvy Landlords out there that do work like a PRO and for that, I commend them! And there are wonderful resources to teach home owners many DIY fixes and improvements and I encourage the ambitious out there to do just that, if they are willing to put the PRO shine on their efforts. If, on the other hand, your Landlord client thinks duct tape, spray foam and zip-ties are reliable repair materials, you might have your work cut out for you!
Janell is a member of Rentec Direct, a web-based property management program designed to help streamline tenant screening and the day-to-day operations of landlords and property managers.