Doing your own repairs *RANT*

69 Replies

Alright so obviously if you do all the repairs yourself you're going to save a ton of money. Its great because you save money. Saving money is the key to living a great life.

FORGET THAT!

I just prepared and painted a single room in my building on my day off work. It took me all day and I'm not even completely finished yet. 

Forget saving money. I can't wait until I can hire this out and never have to paint a room again. 

You know what you should focus on instead of saving money by doing repairs yourself?

MAKING MORE MONEY!!!!!!!

There are a million and five things I'd rather be doing right now. Out on the weights, hitting the twisties, training my deadlift....

But no. I'm here enjoying some great conversation with Sherwin Williams.

If anyone ever tries to tell you to always do your own work to save money throughout your entire career because "why pay a contractor"

Take their advice and burn it. Then take the ashes and use them as chalk to work on your snatch grip deadlifts.

Seriously.

I realize you posted this because sometimes after painting one just needs to complain a bit. But let me tell you why I think you do need to do your own repairs - at first.

1. Chances are early in your career this will save you money and you aren't making more than it tradesman in question. I am making assumptions on this one but they are true in most cases.

2. Learn the trades. This will allow you to understand how things work. It will make walk throughs on potential properties easier. It will assure you don't get ripped off when you do hire out. It will allow you to estimate costs quickly and easily. No assumptions here, applies to everyone.

3. Respect the tradesmen. Some of this work is hard. Some takes serious skill. Eventually you will hire out and it is good to be able to understand the work people are doing for you and respect them for it.

I did all the work I could do until about 15 units. Now I have 3 guys plus lots of other contractors and I respect the work they do. They know this and they also know I understand how things work and what they cost.

Matt

Oh I know. That's why I'm doing this.

I'm saying theirs a reason this type of thing gets hired out.

There's a million better things to be doing with you time than fixing up your own properties. 

get some music jamming!! that always helps with tedious tasks

it's good to know how it's done and how long it takes because when someone says "to paint this house takes 3 weeks", u can say

but yes, get the next house and give the work to whoever wants it.

@Rosston Smith , I'm mainly DIY, and while I hate all the time it sucks out of my life, finding a contractor is next to impossible.

Being an absentee LL, DIY is nearly impossible for me.  I was fortunate to build a team I could trust so that my time was quickly limited to management; applications, move-in/out.  The fact that I  operated a 6-plex was not ignored by the tradesmen either - - there's going to be more work following.  I always mentioned "you're the only one I trust" and that seemed to get a lot of traction for follow-on assignments.

Originally posted by @Karen Young :

get some music jamming!! that always helps with tedious tasks

 Absolutely. I listened to a ton of podcasts and things. 

Originally posted by @George P. :

it's good to know how it's done and how long it takes because when someone says "to paint this house takes 3 weeks", u can say

but yes, get the next house and give the work to whoever wants it.

 True! 

Originally posted by @Jeff B. :

Being an absentee LL, DIY is nearly impossible for me.  I was fortunate to build a team I could trust so that my time was quickly limited to management; applications, move-in/out.  The fact that I  operated a 6-plex was not ignored by the tradesmen either - - there's going to be more work following.  I always mentioned "you're the only one I trust" and that seemed to get a lot of traction for follow-on assignments.

 That's great insight! I like that. 

Well. Of course things you just abhor, you should let someone else do them. But I will add to @Matt Hoyt 's excellent post.

1. Until you have serious income on real estate, it is highly unlikely that you can beat the rate of return based on your own labor. For example: Let's say a painter would do that one room that you painted for $1,000, all materials & labor included, all surfaces. If you do it, you might have $150 in materials, all in, and that includes some reusables (i.e. good quality brushes). A good painter can do that whole room in one day. Let's say it takes you twice as long, two full days. $850/2 = $425 per day that you paid yourself to do this job. If you aren't making more than $56k net per year on your investment, you are making money doing this yourself. 

2. Knowing how to do anything and knowing how to do nothing is often the difference between having nice places and being a slumlord. It is simply not cost effective to have every little thing done by outside help unless you have scale.

3. Finding and managing contractors is a job in and of itself. Just because someone else is painting doesn't mean you're scott-free. Who is going to inspect the work? Call to find out why the contractor's not on the site? Question the cost overrun? Verify receipts? ETC

4. The cost and work of repairing/redoing a bad job is often far worse than just leaving it as is. 

I'm not against hiring out - I hire out plenty of stuff. Some stuff I still try to do myself just because I like doing it (finish carpentry, for example). Other stuff I do because it's not time effective to get someone else to do it.

Know your limitation. And never think that real estate is a completely passive activity. It's not, even if you hire out everything. 

Don't you have friend's who work for beer? I have friends who work for beer. 

Also, if you enjoy hitting the twisties I'm assuming you're a car guy? I spent years doing drift and autox events, and being a broke college kid...I did all my own car repairs and builds for years. Now I'm more confident at repairs, and faster at repairs...than a lotttt of people I know. 

I assume it's the same with home repairs. It's taking you forever right now, by a few houses in you'll be much faster. The last mobile I flipped I tried to hire it out and ya know what happened....I ended up having to fire him in the middle, and learn/do it all my self. Because of that my confidence with those types of tasks is so much higher now. 

Every time I find a house listed with flooring torn out, or needing drywall done I'm thrilled...because I know 1000 other people looked at it, thought about what they'd have to pay someone to do it, and moved on. I looked at it and KNEW I could do it and it didn't scare me off. 

I'm with ya that there are way more fun things to do with your time, it's just a keeping your mindset positive. 

@Rosston Smith  I get your frustration but some skills you should know how to do to save money are as follows:

  1. Placing a door
  2. Simple plumbing fixes
  3. Placing light bulbs and the boxes
  4. Replacing an outlet box
  5. Knowing how to replace a light switch
  6. Tarping a roof where it is leaking after it rains

For me I like to learn little things like that because over time it saves money. So don't be frustrated and just learn the little things and hire people for the big things. I hate painting as well because it is time consuming so just hire some professional painters. But if a lightswitch needs to be replaced or a door needs to be replaced then instead of wasting hundreds of dollars in labor costs, buy the stuff and do the repairs yourself. I guarantee it is easier than painting and it is great to be a handyman. Plus the ladies love a man who is handy so there is a plus.

Another thing I forgot to mention is to buy mechanical devices that can save you time and labor when you go to repair stuff. It may have a sizable overhead but the amount of labor and time these devices can save you is paramount.

@Rosston Smith Rant away!  I feel your pain.  My husband and I are house hacking a 4 unit and renovating all units.  We are doing the bulk of the work ourselves, and have two young kids and full time jobs so we work on it 8PM-11:30PM everyday; we also aim to get a few morning and afternoon hours in on weekends.  I got up early this morning to take last nights kitchen demo to the dump before the kids woke up.  I'll be home for lunch to finish out the demo, and the rest of my week is slated for painting then kitchen install.

This is our first property; by the 3rd or 4th I'm hoping our time will be too valuable to do the work ourselves, at which point I'll hire it out.  And at that time I'll know what it takes to do the work and do it right, so I'll be more confident in interviewing potential tradesmen/contractors.

I'm with you, painting sucks and I'd much rather be out enjoying myself.  But I've worked in biotech start ups and remember the VP of research doing simple lab tasks/experiments and the CEO taking out the trash.  You do what you have to do to build your business until your business can afford to hire it out.

I've paid premium prices for hired out work and honestly I could do it better and not much slower.  We have done the interior(cabinets too)/exterior painting, flooring, counter tops, landscaping and other things I'm sure in our construction projects.  We have had contractors and subs that paint, do flooring or etc as their main profession tell us that professionals couldn't have done it better.

The ability to make concrete counter tops, lay brick floor herringbone, trim out a house and hang cabinet doors/drawer faces is worth it's weight in gold.  

Being able to do and understand things like this will give you a good expectation of work and when you find tradesmen that perform to your liking, keep them on speed dial, they're worth every dollar. 

It's good to know how to do things if you're going to be a landlord long term as good tradesmen that do work up to your new found standards are highly sought after, and may not be able to get to you at the drop of a hat.

I will agree that a quality paint job in a home is a PITA to do.  Prepping/cutting in is the worst part and if you sand/spray the trim/doors with oil base, you have prep the finished trim again.  But it's worth the end result.

I just cringed reading your post about the painting haha. My wife and I bought our primary residence a month or two ago. We were still running our lease out at an apartment when we closed, so we had time to make some repairs etc. before we moved in.

I figured I would paint the whole house myself, since I did NOT want to spend thousands (or whatever it costs) to paint an entire house. Omg... still having nightmares about how long it took haha. Sanding every wall, taping out everything... cutting in... make it stop! lol

Originally posted by @Mindy Jensen :

@Rosston Smith , I'm mainly DIY, and while I hate all the time it sucks out of my life, finding a contractor is next to impossible.

This is why I do most of my own work.  It can be hard to find someone compliant and available.  When you do they won't be cheap.  I think there was a blog post about this recently.  Anyway I have recently luckily found a contractor that is competent and not to expensive.  Still working on the available when I need them part...

Originally posted by @Natalie Kolodij :

Don't you have friend's who work for beer? I have friends who work for beer. 

Also, if you enjoy hitting the twisties I'm assuming you're a car guy? I spent years doing drift and autox events, and being a broke college kid...I did all my own car repairs and builds for years. Now I'm more confident at repairs, and faster at repairs...than a lotttt of people I know. 

I assume it's the same with home repairs. It's taking you forever right now, by a few houses in you'll be much faster. The last mobile I flipped I tried to hire it out and ya know what happened....I ended up having to fire him in the middle, and learn/do it all my self. Because of that my confidence with those types of tasks is so much higher now. 

Every time I find a house listed with flooring torn out, or needing drywall done I'm thrilled...because I know 1000 other people looked at it, thought about what they'd have to pay someone to do it, and moved on. I looked at it and KNEW I could do it and it didn't scare me off. 

I'm with ya that there are way more fun things to do with your time, it's just a keeping your mindset positive. 

 I'm actually a bike guy! 

Originally posted by @Natalie Kolodij :

Don't you have friend's who work for beer? I have friends who work for beer. 

Also, if you enjoy hitting the twisties I'm assuming you're a car guy? I spent years doing drift and autox events, and being a broke college kid...I did all my own car repairs and builds for years. Now I'm more confident at repairs, and faster at repairs...than a lotttt of people I know. 

I assume it's the same with home repairs. It's taking you forever right now, by a few houses in you'll be much faster. The last mobile I flipped I tried to hire it out and ya know what happened....I ended up having to fire him in the middle, and learn/do it all my self. Because of that my confidence with those types of tasks is so much higher now. 

Every time I find a house listed with flooring torn out, or needing drywall done I'm thrilled...because I know 1000 other people looked at it, thought about what they'd have to pay someone to do it, and moved on. I looked at it and KNEW I could do it and it didn't scare me off. 

I'm with ya that there are way more fun things to do with your time, it's just a keeping your mindset positive. 

 I think thats awesome you are into cars though and did autox! That's super impressive. Plus you did all your own repairs. It is definitely like that. 

Just get someone to spray the whole house with paint. Goes by a lot quicker and should cost less than a couple thousand.

Originally posted by @Adiel Arvizu :

@Rosston Smith I get your frustration but some skills you should know how to do to save money are as follows:

  1. Placing a door
  2. Simple plumbing fixes
  3. Placing light bulbs and the boxes
  4. Replacing an outlet box
  5. Knowing how to replace a light switch
  6. Tarping a roof where it is leaking after it rains

For me I like to learn little things like that because over time it saves money. So don't be frustrated and just learn the little things and hire people for the big things. I hate painting as well because it is time consuming so just hire some professional painters. But if a lightswitch needs to be replaced or a door needs to be replaced then instead of wasting hundreds of dollars in labor costs, buy the stuff and do the repairs yourself. I guarantee it is easier than painting and it is great to be a handyman. Plus the ladies love a man who is handy so there is a plus.

Another thing I forgot to mention is to buy mechanical devices that can save you time and labor when you go to repair stuff. It may have a sizable overhead but the amount of labor and time these devices can save you is paramount.

 Great advice! 

Originally posted by @Sarah D. :

@Rosston Smith Rant away!  I feel your pain.  My husband and I are house hacking a 4 unit and renovating all units.  We are doing the bulk of the work ourselves, and have two young kids and full time jobs so we work on it 8PM-11:30PM everyday; we also aim to get a few morning and afternoon hours in on weekends.  I got up early this morning to take last nights kitchen demo to the dump before the kids woke up.  I'll be home for lunch to finish out the demo, and the rest of my week is slated for painting then kitchen install.

This is our first property; by the 3rd or 4th I'm hoping our time will be too valuable to do the work ourselves, at which point I'll hire it out.  And at that time I'll know what it takes to do the work and do it right, so I'll be more confident in interviewing potential tradesmen/contractors.

I'm with you, painting sucks and I'd much rather be out enjoying myself.  But I've worked in biotech start ups and remember the VP of research doing simple lab tasks/experiments and the CEO taking out the trash.  You do what you have to do to build your business until your business can afford to hire it out.

 You can do it Sarah! That's far more than I've got on my plate.

Originally posted by @Christos Philippou :

I just cringed reading your post about the painting haha. My wife and I bought our primary residence a month or two ago. We were still running our lease out at an apartment when we closed, so we had time to make some repairs etc. before we moved in.

I figured I would paint the whole house myself, since I did NOT want to spend thousands (or whatever it costs) to paint an entire house. Omg... still having nightmares about how long it took haha. Sanding every wall, taping out everything... cutting in... make it stop! lol

 Bro.... Its the WORSSST!!!!! 

ugh

@Matt Hoyt @George P. @Mindy Jensen @Jeff B.

Allow me to clarify. It appears that I've given the impression I don't understand the time value of performing your own labor. 

I understand its more cost effective for me to perform my own repairs.

I intentionally purchased my first property with repairs needed.

I understand its more beneficial for me to do it myself at this point in time.

What I'm highlighting is the ridiculousness of the amount of time it takes to perform something you could just hire out. 

I'm not hiring it out now, but I will as soon as I can.

When I die, I want to die having lived a life full of cliff jumping and sky diving, not painting or laying tile.

@Christos Philippou and finding someone who will do the proper prep work like you did wouldn't be cheap!  And you have to verify they really are doing the proper prep. You can hire someone to come in and do a simple spray job that will look awful in s month or two, and it still isn't cheap. That's why we're painting ourselves even though I don't enjoy it. Now flooring, that I actually like. 

Free eBook from BiggerPockets!

Ultimate Beginner's Guide Book Cover

Join BiggerPockets and get The Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Real Estate Investing for FREE - read by more than 100,000 people - AND get exclusive real estate investing tips, tricks and techniques delivered straight to your inbox twice weekly!

  • Actionable advice for getting started,
  • Discover the 10 Most Lucrative Real Estate Niches,
  • Learn how to get started with or without money,
  • Explore Real-Life Strategies for Building Wealth,
  • And a LOT more.

Lock We hate spam just as much as you

Create Lasting Wealth Through Real Estate

Join the millions of people achieving financial freedom through the power of real estate investing

Start here