We all dread that call or text.
"My stove isn't working!", "The toilet overflowed", or "The furnace is squealing so loud, I can't sleep!"
How should we deal with this?
Well, there's a time for delegation, and a time to just get it done yourself. If you're an investor with a handful of properties or less, or even just a homeowner, sometimes it’s simpler to just deal with it.
Fortunately there are excellent tools online now to help with minor repair issues, and you'd be surprised how fast some of these things can be taken care of.
Often, this is better than contacting your property manager to assess, and then contacting the handyman or repair guy. You can expect to pay handsomely when that happens.
This has happened to me more than a few times, when I could have saved time, money and stress to quickly take care of it myself. I may have had to swing by the house anyways for a quick inspection, change the furnace filters, or pick up the rent cheque.
Let me give you a few tips on how to take care of minor repair issues yourself as painless as humanly possible.
1. Pictures or Videos - Ask your client to take a few pictures, or better yet do short video of the problem. For example, have them shoot a quick video on their phone showing the leaky P-trap under the sink. Even if you can't fix it yourself, you might be able to send that video to your handyman, and they can go there with the right tools and supplies to repair the issue right away.
2. Repair Clinic and similar sites - Using the photo/video info above, check these sites. I discovered a great site called Repairclinic.com, which has thousands of high quality videos spanning across numerous brands and types of appliances. You can purchase parts from their site, or grab the info and buy locally. There's even primer info, such as, "How does a furnace work". Seriously, it's good stuff!
Similar sites include: appliancepartspros.com; partselect.ca; doityourself.com
3. Google or YouTube it! - Don't forget to take advantage of Larry and Sergey's awesome gifts to humanity. All useful repair content are tagged by content producers with "How to...", so start your search the same way.
4. Good Books – Have a few of these handy for quick reference material. My personal favorites include:
- How Your House Works – By: Charlie Wing
- Home Reference Book – By: Carson Dunlop (currently edited by…ahem…yours truly)
- Do It Yourself – By: Julian Cassell
- The Complete Photo Guide To Home Repair – By: Black & Decker (crappy tools - great books)
5. Can It Wait? - Ask your tenant nicely if it's an urgent matter, or if it can wait until next time you're in town. In most cases, they're okay to wait a bit. This can save you time by batching a bunch of your tasks together a couple of Saturdays away when you are free.
A Few Benefits Of Being More Hands On
Stuff gets documented – If you ask your client for information in the form of pictures and videos, and you actually follow up with the work, that all gets documented and can be used later on in case there’s a dispute.
Your tenants will appreciate you more – Instead of viewing you as the monopoly man out to impoverish the masses, you’re viewed in a better light by your tenants for being so helpful and down to earth.
You gain knowledge and experience – Of course, learning some new skills are always beneficial, even if you delegate later on.
Systematize – Developing a tried and true protocol that can be used by your property manager or employees at a later time.
If you're starting out, a little hands-on approach might be better initially than relying 100% on property managers and handymen. Always have a little toolbox in your trunk for potential minor repairs when you visit your properties.
The goal of course is not to create more work for yourself long term, but the reality of starting out is that you want to eliminate the things that may negatively affect your decision to keep pushing forward. Small repair issues that can be quickly and painlessly resolved will give you a tiny boost of encouragement to keep plowing through, and a smart idea when your cash flow is still tight.
I would recommend always be willing to learn (where possible), and then delegate the task later on. Doing some work at the beginning may actually save you quite a bit of money, headache, and possibly even time.
And yes, TIME is the ultimate form of wealth