We are all tempted at times as landlords and property managers to save a little time and money and take on maintenance projects ourselves. However there can be a downside to that. We all also know it is best not to let tenants take on maintenance jobs on our rentals either.
Despite what you may see on HGTV, there are simply some maintenance projects that should be left to a maintenance professional. Those are maintenance projects neither you nor your tenants should try yourself. Here is some advice from Keepe .
No. 1 – Hands-on Electrical Work
Repairing or re-configuring wiring is not a do-it-yourself project.
We are not talking about changing light bulbs or installing a new light fixture. We are talking about the serious stuff and the reason why electricians charge higher rates.
They have to go through extensive professional training to prepare for safely tackling wiring repairs. A rental property’s wiring/electrical configuration can be made unique by different electrical work being done throughout the years. This makes “one size fits all” procedures that are advertised online completely useless.
The main risk of attempting electrical work yourself is being shocked, starting a fire or causing damage that requires more extensive repairs down the road.
No. 2 – Gas Appliances
Don’t mess with gas appliances. There are hazardous materials involved and potential deadly side effects.
Gas furnaces, ovens, water heaters or dryers should only be worked on by professionals.
Turning off the gas while working on them is not a sufficient precaution. Gas leaks can easily be created by a poorly done project or reassembly. That could expose your rental home to a leak that could cause carbon monoxide poisoning, or worse, an actual explosion.
No. 3 – Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC)
This is a good place to stick to the basics like changing filters and cleaning vents.
Let the professionals handle anything more serious or complicated. Air conditioning and furnace repairs affect the air quality within a property.
Poorly installed or maintained equipment can reduce efficiency and air flow. It can also be the root cause of respiratory infections and problems for those living and breathing in the property.
Just like electrical professionals, HVAC professionals are required to undergo specialized training. That training allows them to obtain special licenses that legally allow them to work with certain materials.
These materials include refrigerants. There are Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) regulations for handling these so let the professionals do it.
No. 4 – Plumbing
You might think that clogged drain you cleaned up for your tenant might have been a piece of cake to work on.
However major plumbing projects like re-routing existing plumbing or spot-fixing a leak is a whole different story.
Water damage is extremely costly to repair. Even a small leak can be the culprit behind a plumbing-related emergency that costs a property thousands of dollars in damages down the road.
No. 5. – Chimney Sweeps
Chimneys require regular cleanings to clear combustion buildups.
Also there could be issues involving the fireplace that could restrict adequate air flow which could degrade the air quality in your rental and cause some tenants breathing problems.
Experts encourage scheduling a yearly inspection to ensure everything is in adequate working condition. The actual inspection and cleanup involve working closely to toxic fumes and flammables, which requires a professional.
No 6 – Structural Alterations
Do not demo existing walls to “open up the space” like you see on TV.
Demolishing a wall that might not only be a bearing wall, but also encasing other circuits and piping.
It could permanently damage a property’s systems and potentially cause major, long-lasting structural damages.
Additionally, official permits are generally needed to move forward with structural alterations, which is why working with a professional is always best.
No. 7 – Pest Extermination
Over-the-counter products, traps and gadgets are rarely ever enough to guarantee the successful extermination of an established pest colony.
Those solutions result in a “surface clearing” without actually affecting nests and nearby populations.
Stronger chemicals should be handled by a professional as they are extremely toxic to humans. Professional exterminators will be able to assess the characteristics of a property and treat the area in the most effective way. They are trained in the safe handling of chemicals and products.
No. 8 – Siding Installation
Most people attempting the installation of siding by themselves are trying to save money.
Our experts warn that poorly secured siding can allow for harsh weather to strip it off and/or for moisture to penetrate underneath. That can damage the frame of the home and thus require repairs that are vastly more expensive than what having a professional doing the installation costs.
No. 9 – Tile
Tile is one of those projects that you could tackle yourself. But how good are you at it?
Keep in mind that a botched job could come with unwanted strings attached.
A well-done tile job will require extremely precise measuring and planning. Subtle inaccuracies in tile placement can still account for a visibly uneven finished product.
Cutting tile as needed requires even more precision and special tools.
Tile for moisture-prone areas (showers, backsplashes, and bathroom floors) needs to be properly insulated and waterproof. If this is not done, water can seep under and cause severe damage.
No. 10 – Tree Trimming & Removal
We are not talking about simple trims here. We are talking about older, tall, and large trees. When you have large trees, trimming and removal is a delicate process. It can involve dangerous power tools and likely working at a high point off the ground. Hiring trained professionals is the best available option for projects of this kind.
Photos Created by Bearfotos – Freepik.com
Summary on Maintenance Projects:
Shows like HGTV and famous personalities have fueled a “do it yourself” (“DIY”) craze that has left many viewers itching to test their hand at home improvement projects. DIY-ing is definitely a fun and creative outlet, and leaves many feeling empowered and proud after successfully beautifying and/or personalizing their rental homes. Many also view DIY as a way to save money. However remember when important, critical maintenance is concerned to hire a professional to do the job right the first time.
Keepe is an on-demand maintenance solution for property managers and independent landlords. The company makes hundreds of independent contractors and handymen available for maintenance projects at rental properties. Keepe is available in the Greater Seattle area, Phoenix, San Francisco Bay and San Diego areas.