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When to Do Home Maintenance Yourself or Trust the Professionals

Updated 5/20/24 by Bay Property Management Group

When property maintenance is necessary, many landlords are tempted to do all the home repairs themselves. However, sometimes this can defeat the intended purpose of economic efficiency. Surprisingly, it can be more expensive to do the home repairs yourself than simply hiring a professional to complete the work. 

When you mull over whether you should do home maintenance yourself or not, you need to consider your skill level, how much your time is worth, what your budget for home repairs is, and what you can learn from professionals. Luckily, as property managers in Washington DC, we have learned from experience when it’s time to get our hands dirty or time to just call a specialist. Let’s go through the signs.  

Know Your Skills 

Sometimes we are the worst ones at judging our own abilities. Often, we either underestimate our skills, or worse, we overestimate them. 

Knowing your home repair skills means more than just having a “sense” of your abilities as a handyman. You need to evaluate each task and decide if your abilities measure up to what needs to be done. You may be able to paint all the walls yourself, but is replacing the electrical outlet really in your wheelhouse? 

When evaluating your home repair skills, you should put your own self-image aside and examine your objective circumstances. First of all, you should ensure you have the specialized training, experience, and successful results needed to oversee the specific task you have in mind. Be honest with yourself—don’t try to sugar-coat the cold, hard truth. 

Sometimes, you may not be overestimating your skills at all. You may be underestimating your ability to do many common repairs around the rental units. Things like painting and replacing screens take some knowledge to do properly. However, with a little research and time, you can effectively master these skills and perform quality home repairs yourself. 

Then, you must look at the feedback your tenants, family, and friends give you for your property maintenance skills. Getting feedback from others about your handyman skills can be a humbling experience, but it can also save you considerable time and frustration.  

Your Time is Valuable 

Even if you have all the skills you need to make home repairs, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you should undertake them. After all, your time is limited and valuable. 

Every hour you spend peeling wallpaper or pulling carpets is time you could be spending doing something else. You need to understand how much your time is worth and decide if it’s better to push through these tedious tasks yourself or simply outsource them. 

You may or may not be a full-time landlord. Either way, the time you invest in a project will have different returns, depending on the project. 

You only have a limited amount of time. There are many ways to make more money, but there are no ways to make more time. If you spent the time marketing your property or seeking new real estate investment opportunities with the time you could be spending tiling the bathroom floor, which activity would make you more money? The answer to this question will be different for everyone. 

Also, consider the resources you have at your disposal. If you have a solid property management company, they can refer you to reasonably priced professionals who do high-quality work. 

All in all, if spare time well spent could recoup the maintenance fees and more, you should hire a professional. 

Budget for Repairs 

Often, landlords feel pressure to handle repairs themselves because they haven’t budgeted properly. So, you should build a repair budget into tenants’ rent amounts to begin with. Furthermore, if repair costs turn out to be more than expected and you’re in the red, you may need to reevaluate that budget. 

Experienced landlords can prevent unneeded hassles with a thorough inspection. That is, they should inspect their records to see what their actual repair costs have been over the past several years. You will probably discover you spent more than you assumed on home maintenance and, in turn, need to increase your budget. This budget should make room for any professional services you might find yourself needing. After all, life happens. 

If you are a new landlord, it’s a good idea to consult experienced property management companies or landlords to determine common home repair costs. Once you have a proper repair budget, it will be easier to decide if a repair is best done by you or by hiring an expert. Most importantly, there is no one-size-fits-all budget. Each property is different, so the budget will be unique to you and each of your properties. 

Learn From the Pros 

Sometimes, there may be no way to avoid a costly service call. However, you can make the most of it by learning skills from their demonstrations. You should carefully observe what they are doing and ask questions. Many jobs you hire out may be easy enough for you to do yourself if you take the time to learn. 

Not only can you learn from the pros while they do property maintenance, but you can find any number of detailed, helpful tutorials on sites like YouTube. You don’t have to become an expert in every area of home repair. Just learning how to make a few of the more common repairs can be the difference between turning a profit and a loss. 

Even if you don’t end up making the repairs yourself, you still could save money by learning the tricks of the trade. This is because you will be better able to judge if the costs and time estimates contractors give you are reasonable or not. 

However, this advice comes with some enormous asterisks. If the process of repairing endangers your life or others’ lives, or if inadequate repairs could have such an effect, you absolutely should not try to attempt those repairs yourself. For instance, you should not handle most electrical repairs on your own.  

In addition, be careful that you are learning from experts. No shortage of fast-paced DIY shows only hints at the actual work involved in some types of home maintenance. 

Have BMG Handle Property Maintenance 

Deciding when to hire out property maintenance or do it yourself is about more than just looking at costs. In the end, some home repairs may be costlier than hiring a professional. Worst of all, some DIY fixes could put you or others in danger. Plus, even if you do have the right skills, you also need to measure what your time is worth. 

If you set an accurate property maintenance budget and take the time to learn from the pros, you will be able to make educated choices about rental repairs and increase the profits you get from your rentals. 

If you don’t want to calculate the costs of DIY repairs vs. professional ones or handle home repair logistics, period, there are people you can turn to for support. Professional property managers like us can handle the dirty details of property maintenance on your behalf. That’s not all, either. We can handle rent collection, evictions, move-in and move-out reports, and more. If you live in Howard County or other parts of Maryland, we’re here to help. Call us today to streamline your landlord experience. 

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