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As a Landlord, Should You Fix-It-Yourself?

For those of you with a predilection for craftsmanship (or, at the least, for those of us that think we’re handymen and women!), the super stores (Home Depot and Lowe’s) and the demographic-specific cable television networks (DIY Network and HGTV) have turned everyday homeowners into self-made contractors – a recent trend that has been fueled by these corporations, falsely enabling you to believe you can do almost anything, so long as time permits. Some experts say to leave the larger jobs to the professionals and the small jobs to the landlord – such as lighting and fixtures, landscaping and painting.

So how do you determine if you should take the work on yourself or hire an experienced professional?

Here is a list of things to consider before you go donning a yellow hardhat and leather tool belt:

• Find Out if a Building Permit is Required – In the case of rental property where there is an increased risk of liability and legal action, you should always contact your local building permit office and find out if the work you are considering requires a permit. As much as everyone likes to cut costs and evade their local government, building permits are required to ensure the project is completed in accordance with the latest safety standards. If a permit is required, then you may need some professional help if you are still insistent on performing the work yourself.

• Assess Your Skills – Do you not only have the work ethic, drive and determination to get the job done – but do you possess the basic skills to complete the project correctly? Now, before you go running off smugly answering, “Yes,” you should take the time to list all of the steps involved and evaluate your ability to complete each one accurately. The last thing you want is a tenant suing you because something goes wrong with the work you performed and it turned out substandard.

• Consider the Costs – Eliminating the labor expense by doing handiwork yourself can save you upwards of 50% – but do you already own or have access to the required tools or will you have to rent or buy them? Tools are very expensive and professionals come already well-stocked. In addition, professionals can often use existing supplies left over from previous jobs – or be able to purchase new ones through their own contacts at a discount you wouldn’t otherwise receive – so it’s always wise to get at least a couple of quotes from some local professionals, so you can see whether or not you are truly saving in the end – especially considering the required effort on your part in addition to any financial costs incurred regardless.

By the way!: You can always consider hiring a professional to perform only the highly skilled tasks – or perhaps someone who is less expensive to perform the prep work, to free up some of your time.

In addition to saving money, the nice thing about doing most of the work yourself is the extra attention you are inclined to give to the detail. No one will take greater pride in your rental property than you. In the end, there is a lot of satisfaction that accompanies all of the work you do by yourself – and it only gets better as you continue to complete more “Do-It-Yourself” projects. Just be sure you carefully consider all of your options – and weigh the pros and cons – before you even think of beginning.