I have several SF rentals in Contra Costa County, which I've managed myself for 9 years.
Also have 1 2-story apartment/townhouse that was managed by a friend's PM company. It wasn't a happy experience, so I found another PM with more established track record in the area, & have been generally satisfied. I live about 50 minutes from the unit - on a good day, before the afternoon commute traffic makes it unreasonable to drive there.
So the current PM called one morning & said there was a leak from upstairs bathtub showing up in downstairs ceiling. Their plumber quoted $900 to open ceiling, look for & repair leak, repair sheetrock & paint. I approved the expense - in my mind picturing broken pipes and the ceiling collapsing if not done timely.
I just saw the description of work today on PM's website: "New p-trap, sheetrock, caulking"
So, did I get ripped off, & can I or should I challenge the PM on the expense?
Thanks in advance for any advice.
I feel your pain- I don't have a great answer for you.
You can, I'm not sure how it will go. May be good to ask for more info on how long it took, etc. Do you have an hourly type of deal worked out with different service providers?
We encounter the same thing on service stuff. Would be great to have a master 'full cost model' which is something I've talked about but at the end of the day leverage is the ability to replace someone. That does sound like a heck of a lot for that. I'd think that's at most a full day worth of work and $50 in parts.
If they had to go back another 2 times to finish mud and paint, etc. That may be a different story.
Precedent is an important thing so if this is a new company (to you) I'd tell them to account for their time very specifically. Keep asking follow up questions and ask them how they pay their plumber. If it's someone on their payroll and they didn't get invoiced, ask about their costs. If they got invoiced, ask for that invoice.
Sounds pretty brutal. We deal with this all the time...... I hate getting invoiced on stuff where there's not clear accounting discussed ahead of time.
I am really a newbie wanting to restart real estate investing, but this is the same reason I got rid of 3 properties. Remote management was proving too costly with a new repair bill every month for 2 years straight. Probably was not good choice but I got rid of the properties instead of getting rid of the property manager. Now I want to resurrect real investing career but want proceed with more caution.
@Jim Goebel Thank you for your reply. This gives me a starting point, as I don't want this to be an ongoing issue.
@Lois S. if these reasonably close to WC I can go check out.... if need be. I had a similar issue to this in my upstairs shower it likely went on for months if not years. In fact when they opened up the ceiling there was foam shoved in there that was moldy and likely used to hide the leak. It wasn't that labor intensive like 1 hr (figure 2 being generous). Then it was a patch (done by different company) and some slight texture.
It should be easy to see where the water was coming from by the wet spot on the ceiling, I'd guess my job (again being generous) had maybe 5 hrs. That's giving them 1 hr for a site visit. Probably like 50 bucks in parts (again overly generous).
Probably not much you can do if they gave you a lump-sum quote.....
A few years ago, I gave my property management company the side eye because I was getting calls every week. The tenant sad this or that. On one of those occasions I contacted the tenant myself only to discover that they had NOT called the property management company. I called the company back to say hey, my tenant hasn't called you. They (imo lied) and said "Oh we called the wrong property owner. Like you, I would just approve every repair without question. Now I check with my tenant before N E repair is done. You could also (in the future) ask them to take a picture of the issue prior to repair or get a 2nd opinion.
@Lois S. Well, the bottom line is that you don't know if you got ripped off and you likely never will. I have property out-of-state and while most of the invoices as well documented, not all of them area. My PM will use a handyman for some things instead of an outsourced contractor. I don't know if that person really spent __ hours doing paint touch-up. I don't exactly love the ambiguity but (for me) it's just part and parcel of being an absentee landlord. I don't sweat the repair costs even when I don't love them. Not to mention in my primary residence some "bad regulator" cost me $900 so I'm not exactly good at guessing what plumbing repairs should cost. My main focus is on occupancy and the top line. When all 36 units are full I'm always happy with the cash-flow. Full occupancy has a more of an impact (for me) than any hiccups or overages in repairs so that's what I focus on.
I don't know if this helps. It's more a mindset (for me) than having good tactical advice on how to manage repair costs remotely.
@Lois S. I can say this , if the plumber did all the work , cut hole , replace p trap , replace drywall and paint for $900 you got a good deal . Plumber rates in my area are $125 to $160 an hour
Thats probably a days work , maybe a bit more with drywall finishing .
My question would be , why was the plumber doing drywall repair . Usually the plumber cuts a hole , fixed the problem cleans up and leaves . A handyman would take care of the drywall repair .
If they finished the job the price is OK. You are dealing with CA plumber so anything like a leak upstairs goes over several $K easily. I would ask how many hours they worked on it and what is the warranty?
Sounds reasonable to me .... however, my partner just used a local electrical company to work on one of his C properties. Job was to change out one breaker, install a new GFI, swap out a light fixture. The bill was $1143 & he was incensed calling it blue collar theft!!!
Thank for the replies.
@Val Jaz, you have a great idea. I think I'll ask going forward for service person to send me a photo before starting work. I sometimes do this for work on my other units, & seems like a good idea.
Also will be asking for a copy of invoice & will contact service person myself to ask more about the work done.
@Matthew Paul I now have the invoice, & I'm guessing it wasn't a licensed plumber who did the work. I only see the name of the contractor as "XXX" construction, and no contact info. I will follow up with PM.
Work included removing old & installing new p-trap, basket, drain pipe, overflow.
I guess it sort of depends on how much sheetrock and patching there was, but that sounds really high. This unfortunately is not an uncommon problem. I would talk to your PM about it, make sure to get a second quote next time and if things don't improve, don't be afraid to switch.
My property managers send pictures of before and after on EVERY repair proposed and or made. I never asked, it's just how it's done and lets all parties have a good understanding of the scope of work.
That's crazy high for what the job described. At least to me. It would cost me $50 or less for part and 2 hours most for work.
@Lois S. - I had a water flood at 8pm when a tenant’s shower valve stem broke (hot/cold handle) when showering. Left an open pipe. Water gushed into the new wall gap.
Emergency plumber cost $200 min to show up. Said on phone it would be another $200 Min if he touched anything because I asked him to just turn off House main water because I had a Dominion home warranty contract. He Quoted $900 to replace the valve stem, Rip out and redo leaked on drywall.
I ended up getting my MOM to shut off the main water valve in the basement because the plumber wouldn’t. Though happy to take my $200. (Biggest rip off ever). Ended up calling my handyman who fixed it and cost $300 plus $150 in parts. The laundry room ceiling drywall dried with no residue or signs so it didn’t need to be torn out.
If had to replace drywall and come out multiple times, 900 fair, otherwise you have the cheater type I had.
Hi Don Blake, that’s why when you are an out of state investor who are always easy targets by PM for getting sucked out the most of their dollars - try and buy brand new properties to defer the maintenance
I had the same thing happen at my house. Brought in two contractors come in to estimate on it. Their prices were about the same. $800 - $750 in NC.
Well the one thing I've learned is that contractors don't go into exquisite detail on invoices. That doesn't mean you're being screwed on the price.
I'm reminded of a repair in a rental property last year. There was a water leak into the garage. The plumber discovered that the toilet in an upstairs bathroom was leaking. He fixed the problem for $300-ish.
But it was sh1tty toilet water that had been leaking. We had to pay another company to do the remediation at a cost of $800. Who wants to deal with sh1tty toilet water?
I had the same issue as @Natalie Schanne but had the plumber take care of it because it was 1.) actual current leak that was not a simple drip drip drip 2.) I was out of town and couldn't be back to take care of the emergency and 3.) Friday night going into a holiday weekend which meant no one would show for non-overtime until a Tuesday or something which wasn't acceptable as it was a water leak. Had I been able to call a handyman to do it would have been a few hundred less. Had I been there to do it would have been even less but taken me hours. All in all, it was a painful chunk of change for one evening fix but was also not a headache.
Hard to really tell. Depends on how much sheetrock repair and touch up they had to do....not enough detail on what was actually done.
You may have been screwed out of a couple of hundred bucks at most.... price doesn't seem too off to me for what I would visualize in my mind as being done.
Best you can do is next time get better info on what the actual issue is.....condition of the actual damage...... get pix before, during and after...more detailed invoice.
I probably wouldnt sweat this one....but make the plan on how you handle repairs and quotes in the future....
Always ask for before and after pictures of work.
My dad is a contractor and he recently did a similar thing, he quoted the guy $350 and have them do the final paint job since he doesn’t want to wait around for sheet rock patch up to dry and then the primer paint to dry. So in all, this can could be time consuming