I went in to this trusting my handymen because I know they are knowledgeable, even if we are breaking some rules about licenses and permits. I've realized it's going to be impossible to get someone reliable this way. I am now doing the work myself because why pay some unreliable handyman. But this makes it into a JOB, not an investment. I'm not trying to be lazy, and I don't necessarily mind doing the work. Some (not all) of it can be fun.
But if I'm ever trying to make this purely an investment, what should I do? Hire contractors? I have never even gotten a quote from a contractor because I just thought they would be too expensive and/or try to rip me off any chance they get.
Hire a referred General Contractor to manage the project and sub-contractors.
This depends 100% on your business model. If you want to be an investor, never pick up a hammer. Find a good deal, vet it with contractor pricing and then hire a good quality GC. Keep up on the job as needed (daily, weekly, etc). Pay on time, choose materials, colors and finishes as needed and facilitate the deal from start to finish. A LOT of investors run their businesses this way and make a killing. You will profit "less" than hiring your own subs or doing your own work, but the offset is time, and if your time is better spent landing deals, you don't want to be setting toilets or painting trim.
With that said I do mine different. A lot would disagree with what I do, but I enjoy the hands on work. I spent a lot of years around construction designing and managing. I finally get the chance to be hands on (I have always done hands on hobbies, wood work, car rebuilding, etc...) with the aspects I want, I save paying a contractor for that work, and like doing it. I have a management background with a mid sized GC, so running subcontractors at this scale is easy (I'm used to 20-50 subs on a job, so having 6-8 isn't all that hard), coordinating materials and work is second nature.
For my immediate plans I like this way of doing projects. I can only do 2-3 a year, but I actually have fun doing it (a break from the office life for now) enjoy the feeling of physically making the thing that looks good, tile, kitchens, trimwork, etc... and in the end saves me enough to "pay myself" to do it verse a sub or GC, that I don't feel like I'm losing out. I will scale up and probably change to the more passive way, but for the time being, this is the way I like to work.
I agree with @Harry Williams . You need a GC to manage subs. Most will have their own subs. If not, you can post on Craigslist.
All the best!
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