I do a lot of my own work. When tenants move out, I get in there and go to work, cleaning, hauling out whatever junk they may have left behind, making minor repairs, painting, etc. I try to accomplish this work as quickly as possible and advertise the property. The longer it sits empty, the longer I’m without income on that unit.
I have a great list of sub-contractors who do specific jobs for me. My plumber, carpet layer, electrician are all wonderful people who have been with me for years. My carpet guy works for a company during the day and does side jobs. My electrician used to work for the local public electric company and is retired. He charges me about half of what a normal electrician would charge. My plumber works for a commercial company and does side work. Granted, he’s not available at the drop of a hat, if I have a terrible emergency, but if the job can wait a few hours or a day or two, he can get it done for me cheaply.
You can find these people by networking with other landlords, or looking in local free publications and checking several of the references they give you. Another good option is to post an ad on Craig’s List.
But your one most essential sub-contractor is a great handyman. (Or, in today’s world, woman.) My handyman Craig has worked for me for about 12 years. He grew up in the neighborhood where my rentals are and he now rents from me. I met him when I was on one of my roofs doing some trim painting and he was across the alley at a garage.
We talked a while and although I didn’t use his services right away (I already had someone at that time) he called me a few months later and I decided to give him a try. Craig is honest — this is essential! — and dependable. These are the two most important qualities you need in a handyman. When one of my tenants calls me with a repair issue and it’s something I can’t handle, I call Craig. I don’t have to worry that he’s not going to take care of it and do the job correctly.
I don’t give his number to my tenants, however. I feel it’s my job to field the calls from them, not his. I’m going out of the country for a vacation next month and in that instance, I’m going to leave my tenants a note, telling them I’ll be unavailable by phone for that week. I’ll give them Craig’s number for emergencies only.
Prior to beginning work for me, I had him sign a Contractor Agreement (found in my book, The Landlord Chronicles: Investing in Low and Middle Income Rentals), excusing me of responsibility should he get injured while performing work for me.
Before you begin your journey into real estate investing, make sure you invest in a reliable handyman . . . Craig has brought great peace of mind to my business. A huge ice storm is supposed to pass through town tomorrow, and there’s no way I’m going to venture out in my little work car. (I call it the Fred Flintstone mobile.) Any repair issues during the next couple days will be handled by Craig .
And worth every penny! 🙂