Asset Preservation & Maintenance

Can I Do My Own Repairs?

Every once in a while we receive the question, “can I do my own repairs?”  Or, “I have a ‘handyman’ I’ve used for years, I’d like to use him for repairs.”  While seemingly reasonable requests, after all it is your home we are, or will be, managing, our answer is “no.”  We’ve got nearly 40 years of experience with these situations.  Let’s dig into this a little deeper…


Saving Money

The biggest reason we hear when owners want to control their own repairs is that they want to save money.  After all, why pay a licensed plumber $150 to replace the guts of the toilet to fix a leak, when you can pick up the parts from Home Depot for $25 and install it yourself? Or maybe have your guy do it for $75.

First, the plumber is trained.  They also don’t just replace those parts while they’re there.  They’ll check the rest of the toilet to make sure nothing else is wrong-or could be soon.  What if you miss the cracked bowl?  What if you miss the supply line that should have been changed out years ago and it floods the house?  Now, they may not catch everything, but they’ll spot way more than you or I will.

Second, the plumber has insurance.  If something happens while they are on the job, or as a result of them performing the job, their insurance kicks in.  If it’s Johnny Homeowner or Joe Handyman, that $130 savings isn’t going to be a drop in the bucket compared to your deductible (if your insurance even covers the damage you caused).



We already covered potential property damage, which is a pretty big risk.  “I don’t do plumbing repairs, but I will replace a ceiling fan!”  Do you trust yours or your “handyman’s” skills enough that the fan you installed won’t fall and injure someone, or short and cause a fire?  Personally, I’m very handy, but I most certainly call a plumber and an electrician when it’s in my best interest.  I don’t want to risk hurting my family.

But, it gets worse.  What if the tenant claims jewelry was stolen?  What if the tenant claims they were assaulted?  Is this an avenue you even want to take the risk on for a $130 or $75 savings?


Tenant Experience

The last major reason why non-professional property maintenance is a bad idea is that it generally provides a less than desirable experience for your tenant.  “But, they’re just a tenant!”  That is the exact thought process that causes you more trouble than you realize.  Your tenant is paying you to live there, but those payments go towards the taxes, insurance, and bank note the majority of investors have.  Without your tenant, you’re paying all three of those (plus maintenance) out of your own pocket.  Vacancy costs money.  Tenant turns cost money.  A happy tenant stays longer, saving you money.

Most non-professional property maintenance is un-professional.  They don’t keep their appointment times, if they even show up at all.  We have received so many complaints with non-professional vendors over the years that they’re rude, they smell of smoke (or worse), or they don’t show when they’re supposed to, all making for bad experiences.

The handling of maintenance contributes to ±80% of a tenant’s experience with a property.  If they’re not happy or don’t feel like the owner is taking care of the property, they will move.  And that costs you more money.



I’ll leave you with one story (of many).  In my first several years at Pyramis, we had a particular owner who really didn’t seem to care about his tenants or his properties.  I’ll spare you the details, but he generally refused to spend enough money on maintenance and was notorious for patchwork repairs—never the best repair, only a band-aid.  One property in particular constantly had HVAC issues.  Again, never the correct fix was approved by him or performed by his HVAC guy, only enough to get the unit up and running.  After we terminated this client (consisting of nearly ten properties), we ran the numbers to see what he actually spent just to keep the AC running in this house. He could have replaced the entire system correctly.  Twice.