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Hiring Contractors Can Make You Hate Owning Rentals

Investors who self-manage may decide to do so because they believe professional property managers simply perform the following services.

  • Find a tenant which should be easy using a free on-line service.
  • Collecting rent can be accomplished with a free on-line service.
  • Use a lease that can be copied from something posted on-line.

The internet makes the process of self-management seem much easier.  The piece that is hard for most investors is the process of hiring contractors.  Locating and retaining great contractors is not easy.  In fact, for a rental owner it may be the hardest part of self management.

The Property Manager Has An Advantage

Property managers have the advantage of the resources of the best contractors due to their ongoing relationships and experience.  Most self-managers eventually realize this is one of the most significant services a property manager brings to the table.  The access to options that volume provides is the difference-maker for a professional property manager.  The more properties managed, the more leverage for a professional to obtain.

Ultimately, a professional manager can find solutions faster and for less money.   The challenge for the self-managing property owner is the expectation that they too will enjoy this leverage.

So, lets say you still want to charge into self-management and take your chances on the contracting side.  The first thing you should do is set aside some of the common assumptions about hiring contractors.

If You Are Going To Self-Manage Prepare To Change Your Expectations

The following expectations cause self-managing owners to become frustrated with hiring contractors.  By changing expectations, you can learn to not hate the process as much.

  1. Contractors are waiting and available at a moment's notice
  2. They will only have one job (yours) working at a time
  3. Happy to offer prices that are below market because your job is more attractive than others.  Or some other reason.

Great Contractors Will Not Be Waiting And Available At A Moments Notice

When you start hiring contractors the first thing to accept is the great ones are already busy.  Depending on the job, you will need to build in a longer timeline, or try a contractor who is more available.  Are they available because they are inexperienced or because they have one-star ratings?  Without the benefits of being able to offer volume, the great contractors will likely place you near the back of their schedule.

Great Contractors Will Be Managing Multiple Job Sites

Great contractors will understand project management.  They will spend a lot of time planning and deploying resources.  Sometimes that means there is a day or two where they are working on a different job than yours.  It is frustrating but in the long run this is a normal part of the process that produces the fastest total completion date.

Great Contractors Have To Be Paid

Pricing is relative.  Great contractors have a business organization to support.  They understand the margins a job needs to produce to make it appealing to deploy their resources.  Most of the time they have learned this through experience and the test of time.  For the person needing to hire a contractor, this will likely mean they are not the cheapest bid by a wide margin.  If you have several bids and one is much lower, that is a sign the contractor does not understand the margins his business needs to survive.  Or something is missing.

Avoid Problems With An Abandoned Rental Property

Pick One, Maybe Two Of Your Expectations

You can probably focus on achieving one or two of the above expectations and find somebody for your job.  For example, most great contractors have a backlog of work but also the access to labor and the skills to juggle multiple projects.  To work with that contractor though, you will almost certainly need to adjust your expectations on prices.

You may hate hiring contractors, but by adjusting your expectations you will learn how to manage your property better.

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