Author Topic: DIY, act as contractor, or hire contractor?  (Read 1235 times)


  • Pencil Stache
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DIY, act as contractor, or hire contractor?
« on: September 15, 2015, 04:37:55 PM »
I have one unit, aiming for my second, but it needs renovated.

I would love to do some of the work that needs to be done on the next reno, but realistically it's too big of a job for me to take on myself. I need the works: plumber, electrician, carpenter, flooring, sheetrock, etc...

I would assume most "investors" simply call a contractor and let them sub things out and then pay the contractor a markup? I have tried to hire individual people to come do work and supply the materials to save money but it has just been a bad experience. I have became aggravated at trying to manage people and get them to do things. So far the people I've called have been flaky and dodgy (obvious signs to just go ahead and forget about them).

I also am going to be out of state soon most likely too so I'll at least need a reliable handyman or two.

Just wondering how most landlords operate? Can you stomach the 20-50% markup by paying a general contractor or do you try to find the individual tradesman yourself or do you just do everything yourself?

Obvious benefits to hiring a contractor is less headache and usually gets done quicker. Again, I'm assuming this is how most investors operate but I'm just curious.


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Re: DIY, act as contractor, or hire contractor?
« Reply #1 on: September 15, 2015, 06:29:18 PM »
I think you'll find varying responses. Don't forget that your time is a valuable asset, depending on your available free time and skill level.. Are you going to get a full rent check a month or two sooner if you hire a contractor? As for acting as your own GC..  I think it can go either way also, are you effective at developing a scope of work and a schedule that flows properly? It can save you some money or it can burn up some of your time and create headaches for both you and the contractors if not.  Sometimes it's easier for landlords to be landlords and contractors to be contractors.

Perhaps pick something you are good at (say tiling) and save some money handling that yourself and let the contractor knock out the rest. It sounds like you are having trouble finding reliable guys to work with which may be part of the problem. If you're able to join a local real estate investors association in your area, networking helps. You may get great referrals for contractors from other landlords who were in your position at one time. Best of luck
« Last Edit: September 15, 2015, 06:33:24 PM by pa27pilot »


  • Walrus Stache
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Re: DIY, act as contractor, or hire contractor?
« Reply #2 on: September 15, 2015, 06:47:58 PM »
We do a fair bit of the work ourselves.  As time goes by, and our experience grows, we're capable of doing more of it ourselves.

Then again, if the money starts rolling in, I might prefer to put my time into doing another real estate deal instead of renovating it myself... :)

We manage the individual contractors ourselves. 

We found the individual contractors thru a variety of methods:

1) Experience with having repairs done on our own house before we got into the rental business.  That took care of:

a) roofer,
b) gutter installation (same as roofer)  (we can do both of those, but my hunny has osteoporosis (sp?) and I don't like working high up.)
c) tree cutter

2) Asked our realtor.  That took care of:

a) plumber (her brother, and thus motivated to do a good job on sister's behalf),
b) general handyman
c) electrician (not quite so happy with this one, will only use for simpler stuff once we find another more skilled one)

3) Asked our friends.  That took care of:

a) hvac,
b) home inspector

4) Observation.  I noticed a local handyman or teenager.  That took care of:

a) yard work.
b) outside painting.

The rest were trial and error.   Where possible we test them out on smaller jobs and treat them well.