Are you a landlord or an aspiring landlord? Rental properties are a great way to generate passive income, but it could be a lot of work, too. We have a property manager for our 4 plex, but I manage our old house and another condo myself. One of the requirements of managing your own rentals is at least a little DIY ability.
Now, I am not the handiest guy around and we don’t have a lot of tools because our small condo doesn’t have a lot of storage space. That’s too bad because if we had storage, I could build a nice tool library and charge everything to the business account. While I’m not that handy, my tenants are completely hopeless. So I have had to learn how to deal with a few simple things.
Garbage disposal unit
This year, both the tenants from our rental home and condo called me about the garbage disposal unit. They said it stopped working and the water backed up when they ran the dishwasher. One tenant actually called twice. Here is what I found from the 3 incidents.
- A metal soup spoon stuck in the mechanism.
- Found an olive pit stuck in the mechanism.
- Found a small rock…
I unplugged the unit (very important), cleaned out the obstruction, checked the catch, and then reset the unit. It started right up and is working well again. When I got the first call, I was afraid I’d have to replace the unit and I was pretty happy that I just need to service it. A plumbing company charges $80 to $100 just to come out to take a look.
While I was at the rental home, I did a walk around and found a few more things that needed repairs. One fence post is broken. At first I thought – “UGH, this is going to be a pain in the ass!” It’s going to be hell to dig out the broken post and concrete ball. I talked to my friend about this when we got together for a drink and he told me about a local product, the Stur-D fence Post Bracket.
I called the Stur-D fence folks and they said they can fix the broken post for $105 each. Now, I’m thinking that’s not too bad, but let’s go price out the necessary materials first.
- $42 Stur-D bracket
- $3 Three 2-1/2? x 3/8? lag screws
- $6 Two 60lbs bags of quick concrete
- $2.50 garden stakes for bracing. We had an old 2×4 for bracing so at least we didn’t have to buy that.
That’s about $55 so I could save $50 to fix this myself. Luckily, I already had some digging tools so I didn’t have to buy new shovels. That might have been the deal breaker. We had a post hole digging bar and a medium width square shovel for this job.
A digging bar looks like this.
On Sunday, I went out to the house with my dad and spent about 75 minutes digging and installing the bracket. I thought it would take 2 hours just to dig the hole, but it turned out to be easier than I thought. The digging bar was the key and it got us down in the clay soil relatively quickly. If we just used a post hole digger, it really would have taken 2 hours just to dig a hole.
More pending projects
Unfortunately, we still have a few more things on the repair list.
- $165 Shake gables – clean and stain.
- $90 Fence staining – pressure wash and stain street side.
- $325 Roof – pressure wash, moss clean up, and treat with Moss B Ware.
- $3,500 – Exterior paint…
We don’t have a ladder and I actually don’t really want to deal with it. I can’t risk any injury right now and going up on the roof is an easy way to get hurt. The only thing I could DIY here is the fence, but I’d have to rent a pressure washer. My friend would have been able to do the top 3 items himself since he is a lot handier than I am.
Anyway, I think I’ll capitulate and hire a handy man to do the first 3 items this year and save up for the exterior paint job next year.
Being a landlord isn’t just about collecting the rent check. It could be a lot of work too. Even if you have a property manager, you’ll have to work with them to figure out what to fix and when . That’s why I think renting out your old home is a great first step to being a landlord. You know how everything works and you can fix a few things already.
Are you a landlord? What’s your experience with DIY? Do you think I should try to do more home repair myself?
For 2018, Joe plans to diversify his passive income by investing in US heartland real estate through RealtyShares. He has 3 rental units in Portland and he believes the local market is getting overpriced.
Joe highly recommends Personal Capital for DIY investors. He logs on to Personal Capital almost daily to check his cash flow and net worth. They have many useful tools that will help every investor analyze their portfolio and plan for retirement.
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