A good way to keep your rental investments profitable is to do as many of the repairs yourself as you can. You don’t need to be a master electrician or experienced plumber to do this. It is mostly a question of time. If you have a little extra time to fix simple things by yourself, you will save a bundle!
Let’s say you have a repair that needs to be done. A trained electrician, plumber, or heating and air conditioning person can charge you upwards of $60 just to show up, then charge you anywhere from $45-$75 an hour, usually with a one hour minimum charge. That gets expensive fast.
You can usually get a replacement light switch for under a dollar and install it in a matter of minutes. That’s much cheaper than paying $100 to have someone do it. The guts inside a toilet tank are pretty easy to trade out, and seem to go out every couple of years. You can get replacements for under $15 in most cases. P-traps under sinks occasionally get plugged or broken. They usually sell for three or four bucks. The point is, for an hour of your time, you can often save $70 to $100 or more.
I don’t think that the professionals (at least most of them) are really out to work you over or cheat you out of money. The reason they have to charge so much is that they have a lot of overhead to cover that you don’t: secretaries, trucks, fuel, employee costs, liability insurance, etc. I’m not suggesting you should take their numbers out of your Rolodex. There may come a time when you have a major leak, electrical problem or other need. For the difficult projects, you probably should get a professional. For the easy stuff, you may be better off doing it yourself.
Here’s a list of a few of the simple repairs you can probably do yourself:
* replacing swamp cooler parts
* cleaning out drains
* replacing light fixtures
* patching minor drywall damage
* patching a roof
* fixing a leaky faucet
If you are interested in doing learning more, here are some resources.
Having a book nearby as a reference can save a lot of headache and incorrect repairs. Here are some good ones:
* The Readers Digest “NEW Complete Do-It-Yourself Manual.”
price: sells new for about $30, I’ve seen a used copy online for $1.80
* The Home Depot’s Home Improvement 1-2-3
price: new is about $25, I’ve seen a used copy online for $5.10
* The Complete Photo Guide to Home Repair(Black and Decker): 2000 Color How-To Photos
price: new is about $25, I’ve seen a used copy online for $5.24
There are software derivatives of the Black and Decker book, and the Home Depot book. I have never tried either, but every review I read said they are not very good. In fact, there appears to be no good “home repair” software package on the market. Besides, it’s easier to have a book next to you while you’re working on a faucet than a computer.
Here are more than a few websites and forums you can go online to find help. Just use your favorite search engine to find information about your specific repair.
The most common repairs are not difficult. If you are willing to try them out yourself, chances are you’ll end up with a successful repair and keep more money in your pocket as well. Good Luck!