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Making Home Repairs is Easier Than You Think

By Brian Kline | December 19, 2018

Whether you’re getting ready to sell your house or just need to do normal repairs and maintenance, you can save a lot of money making repairs yourself. But there are times you need an experienced repair person. Not having the right tools and not having the right experience are the two biggest reasons people don’t make timely repairs and perform maintenance. That leads to the even bigger problem of allowing the work list to become dauntingly overwhelming.    

You and your family live in your house full time. You shower, you cook, you open and close doors and windows, and it rains and freezes the exterior of your home. At some time,almost every part of your home wears out, breaks, or needs maintenance. Many homeowners who work all week try to make a habit of spending a couple of hours on Saturday mornings doing a little upkeep around the house. It’s a good habit to get into.

You Need a Toolbox

Everyone should at least have a basic toolbox. Basic toolboxes make great Christmas presents for people that don’t even think they need a toolbox. I made a present of a basic toolbox to my stepdaughter the year she went away to college. Same thing for my niece. When my sister got divorced, I bought her a toolbox. When my father passed away, most of his tools were worn out so I bought my mother a new basic toolbox. All of these women told me they didn’t know how to use tools. I told them that when a friend came around their place who did know how to use tools at least they would have tools to make simple repairs. Eventually they thanked me and said that they had learned to use basic tools. I’m not picking on women.It’s just a fact of life in my family.

You can buy a basic toolbox at any hardware store for less than $100.  It should be on your necessities list when buy your first home. Or ask Santa for it. And then you slowly add to it. The first time you repair your deck, you might need to purchase a circular saw and a chalkline. But you already have the hammer and now you have a saw for every carpentry job for many years to come. The first time you have a leaky faucet,you might need to buy a specialty basin wrench. But when you gain the confidence to replace a bathroom vanity, you’ll still have that basin wrench.

Learn How to DIY

You’ll be surprised how many home repairs can be done with little or no experience. YouTube is a great teacher. There isn’t a home repair you’ll ever need to make that doesn’t have several online videos to show you how to do it and what tools you’ll need. Watch three or four of these to find one that is most appropriate for the task you’re trying to accomplish. The first time I did a major roof repair, I checked it out online so that I wouldn’t make a dumb mistake. But if you are not confident repairing your roof yourself, remember that you can always hire a roofing company to do the repairs professionally.

Always be sure to research on anything you don't understand, particularly if you're dealing with electricity, which can be extremely hazardous. While water isn’t as dangerous as electricity, it can do a lot of damage if you don’t do it correctly. Make sure you know how to turn off the main water supply to your home before you open a primary waterline.

There will probably be some tasks needing to be done that require more experience than you’ve acquired or you simply might not have the time or you might not want to purchase an expensive specialty tool. Keep in mind that you can rent expensive specialty tools. Still, there will likely be a time when you want someone else to do the job.

Handyman Work

You seldom need a contractor unless you’re are doing a remodel. Hiring a handyman can be an economical choice because most only charge for hours worked. Plus they keep their rate slow with less overhead and by not having to pay other workers. A handyman is more likely to have the specialty tool you don’t have or he/she knows where to rent it.

Most handyman work is relatively simple. It can be simple carpentry work or painting. It doesn't typically involve major construction or expansion of the home. When you’re planning to more extensive work, you should consider a contractor. Contractors supervise specialized tradespeople such as plumbers, electricians, and craftsmen. Handymen are Jacks-Of-All-Trades.

Before you hire a handyman or a contractor, make a list of the jobs you need done. If your list is composed mostly of repairs and some updating like painting, a handyman should suit your needs.

  • Get recommendations from family, friends, or your real estate professional if you’re preparing to sell your home. She or he may know an individual or company that specializes in "make-ready," a room-by-room clean up, or touch-up and fix-up. You can also contact sites such as HomeAdvisor or Angie's List, to hire workmen.
  • Interview several handymen before making your decision. Make sure the handyman you hire has the experience and equipment to do the jobs and is willing to guarantee the work.
  • You want someone you'll feel comfortable having around your family and in your home. Hire only those who are bonded and insured.
  • Inspect the work while it's in progress and when it's finished. Most professionals want to do a good job out of pride of workmanship. Handymen rely heavily on referrals. If you're pleased with the work, don’t hesitate recommending the handyman to your family and friends. Your handyman will remember this the next time you ask for an estimate.

What you don't want to do is leave small repairs undone. Your “To Do List” will become intimidatingly long. Or if you’re preparing to sell, home buyers notice when maintenance has been ignored. They may conclude the home needs more repairs than it actually does. I once considered purchasing a house at full price that needed a new furnace but the seller refused to make the repair. I assumed he refused to do other repairs. It cost him the sale.

Please comment below with your DIY and handyman experiences. Also, our weekly Ask Brian column welcomes questions from readers of all experience levels with residential real estate. Please email your questions, inquiries, or article ideas to [email protected].

Author bio: Brian Kline has been investing in real estate for more than 35 years and writing about real estate investing for 12years. He also draws upon 30 plus years of business experience including 12years as a manager at Boeing Aircraft Company. Brian currently lives at Lake Cushman, Washington. A vacation destination, a few short miles from a national forest. With the Pacific Ocean a couple of miles in the opposite direction.

Brian Kline has been investing in real estate for more than 30 years and writing about real estate investing for seven years with articles listed on Yahoo Finance, Benzinga, and uRBN. Brian is a regular contributor at Realty Biz News
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