When should I DIY and when should I bring in a professional ?

As a landlord, there are a lot of outgoings – not least on the maintenance of your property. Can you save money by taking a DIY approach?

As a long-term investment, your property is always going to need updates and further investment:

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  • Decorating. The longer you have your property, the more you’ll have to decorate. This could be anything from regular small updates on wear and tear between tenants, to larger decorating projects to update the property completely and make it more eye-catching. Always go for neutral colours that will stand the test of time, rather than this season’s latest trend
  • Upkeep. Larger updates may be needed every few years, like replacing a worn out carpet or worktops in the kitchen. You may also want to consider some updates to make the property more energy efficient
  • Safety updates. You might discover a safety issue in your property when getting your certification. You need to get a Gas Safety check annually and an EICR every 5 years and either of these could flag up an issue that needs to be addressed before your property can pass inspection
  • Emergencies. You never know when an emergency might hit your property, from a flood that drenches the floor and damages the white goods, to a storm that tears through the roof. Make sure that you have Home Emergency Insurance to cover these eventualities 

With all that in mind, you might be wondering how you can save money. We’ve broken down how you can budget to grow your portfolio, for renovations and how you can add value to your property. But another open is the DIY approach.

What DIY can I tackle in my property?

You can actually do quite a lot yourself with minimal expertise. The main issue you might face is time, as many landlords have a day job and might struggle to keep on top of jobs that are needed in their rentals.

  • Decorating. Painting walls and skirting boards can be time consuming depending on the size of your property, but it’s also a lot cheaper to do it yourself than pay for a professional. Invest the money you save in the best quality tools, so that you can do a good job. Don’t rush it – you don’t want tenants put off by dripping paint and stained carpets!
  • Minor updates. Thinking about swapping out lamp shades or kitchen cupboard doors? These are quick and cheap ways to lift a room, but make sure that you have the right tools and once again – don’t rush the job! No one wants a wonky door that’s liable to fall off at any moment!
  • Cleaning. Yes, you can call in a cleaning company to clear up in between tenants, you can even take it out of the deposit if the mess is really bad. But if the property just needs a quick clean ahead of viewings, consider doing it yourself to save those pennies!
  • Small repairs. If your tenant contacts you about a small issue, perhaps a shelf needs fixing, and you feel confident in being able to fix it, then by all means go ahead! However, bear in mind that if you do not have the skills necessary, you could cause more damage, so be honest with yourself about what you can do!

When should I call in a professional?

The simple answer to this is – when you can’t do it yourself! There are a few instances where you really do need to call in a professional:

  • When you don’t have the time. Many landlords rent properties alongside their day job, so you may simply not have the time to do things, even if it’s in your skillset. Rather than delay or do a rush job, or pile stress onto your own plate, get someone else in – you’ll only have to pay to correct any mistakes later
  • When you aren’t qualified. If you aren’t qualified to do the job, don’t attempt it! If there is a plumbing, electrical or gas issue, do not attempt to do it yourself as you could do a lot of damage and potentially put yourself and your tenant in danger. As a landlord, you need a Gas Safety Certificate and an EICR – if the work you do isn’t up to scratch, you will be found out and you will have to pay a professional to fix it before you can pass
  • When safety is at risk. This reiterates the above point – if the job is complex and beyond your skill set and could put people at risk, don’t do it! Call in the professionals, you won’t regret it!

You should definitely think about the things you can do to drive your costs down – our free Expense Tracker can help you visualise your costs and adjust accordingly. But we highly recommend that if you have even the smallest doubt in your mind about your ability – call in a professional. Taking the risk just isn’t worth it.

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