Are you handy? Do you have construction skills? If you do, that’s great. But just because you do, does that mean you should work on your rentals yourself?
For me, the answer to that question is ‘yes’ … most of the time. Now that may come to you as a shock, especially since I just wrote you last month in a column titled “Should you do it yourself” where I left you with the conclusion that it’s better to hire things out — instead of trying to save money doing it yourself — so that you can go look for more deals. With that being said, I feel like I need to clarify some things.
First off, I’m a proponent of working with your hands. It has both made me a lot of money and saved me a lot of money over the years. But it has also saved me a lot of hassle and time because if something breaks at my house, I can have it fixed well before a contractor could even come out to bid the job.
This allows my family to get back to normal life instead of having to wait around for someone to show up. Ashley has expressed on many occasions how comfortable and secure it makes her feel to have a husband who’s capable of fixing things. And knowing that I can take care of my family in this way makes me feel great.
Nowadays, being able to fix things around the house is becoming a lost art. I personally feel like this is in-part due to the education system’s stance on trade jobs. I know from personal experience that when I was in high school, teachers and staff pushed college as the only path to prosperity and basically dismissed the vocational side of education. In my opinion, this is one of the leading causes to the lack of availability in skilled labor in the workforce today.
Consequently, this shortage has driven wages up and you can make a really good living in a vocational job with a short time in school and with a fraction of the tuition costs when compared to the same wage bracket of a profession that requires a college or post graduate degree.
But making money is not why I work on my rentals. Besides being able to get things fixed quickly for my tenants like I do at home, I do it for two other reasons — both of which happened this week.
The first was on a plumbing call.
The toilet was backing up into the tub. Our tenants figured it out in a hurry and called as soon as they did. But before they called, they had plunged the toilet and even went under the house trying to diagnose the issue. This meant they were doing the most important job of a tenant: taking care of the house. It was Sunday night when it happened, and we figured out they could use one bathroom with no issue until I could get someone out there the next day.
I went out first thing and was able to diagnose that there was some kind of big clog in the main drain which I found by bumping the pipe. The idea is that before a clog the pipe should sound and feel hollow when you bump it because there is no water present. I started where the drain exited the house and worked my way back. And when I hit the clog, I got a dull thud and the pipe felt very full. But what was interesting was the clog sounded like gravel was in the line when I hit it — not good.
I tried for a little while to get it to break up but had to call my plumber Michael Johnston over to use the big snake on it while Eddie Hiley my septic man put the vacuum on the tank side. Attacking it from both sides cleared the line and all was good. Eddie heard gravel too. We’re not sure what that was.
Now I could have just called Michael and Eddie to begin with, but I wouldn’t have gotten to see how the tenants were treating the house. I’m delighted to say the house was clean and looking real good.
So putting eyes on the property is one reason I go to work on the rentals. The other is because it gives me a chance to teach my kids very valuable skills. Like on the other house we visited this Sunday.
On Saturday, we had had some pretty strong winds and I got a picture message from one of the tenants. The photo showed that the wind had blown multiple sets of shingles up and folded them over on themselves.
The next morning, my oldest and I went out to fix the problem. It took us about two hours including initial diagnosis, material gathering and then actually working. But I got to spend one-on-one time with my son teaching him how to shingle a roof. He got to pull shingles and roofing nails and then learned how to install and patch the areas. And it looked dang good when we got done.
He is 10, and I told him he had just learned something many grown men don’t know how to do. You should have seen him beam with pride.
Now I could have called my roofer Brent Smith and he could have done the job quickly and affordably. But I would have missed the opportunity to not only see the property, but I would have also missed the opportunity to show my son how to fix things around the house and how good it feels to know how to do it. So for me, working with your hands pays in lots of ways, and they are all worth it.
Joe and Ashley English buy houses and mobile homes in Northwest Georgia. For more information or to ask a question, go to www.cashflowwithjoe.com or call Joe at 678-986-6813.