Maintenance Secrets That Save You Money
I once heard an auto mechanic mention that one of the best ways to insure the longevity of your vehicle is to consistently perform simple maintenance procedures such as changing the oil. This “pay now or pay later” attitude definitely applies to your rental property. By consistently performing basic property maintenance procedures you can avoid expensive repairs over the lifetime of your investment. The following property maintenance procedures are ones that should be on every property maintenance checklist.
- Gutters need cleaning once in the fall and once in the spring. If they get plugged during the winter, ice dams can build up and cause water damage to the roof and even the interior of the home. I’ve seen some homes with water leaking into them because of an ice dam.
- Plugged gutters in the spring will cause water to run over the gutter, down the foundation of the house, and potentially into the basement. In addition to cleaning gutters, make sure all down spouts are intact and unplugged. Most of the time water can be kept out of a basement by having well maintained gutters and by making sure the grading of the landscaping flows away from the foundation.
2.Clean Outside A/C Compressor Unit.
- Add this to your spring checklist. Regularly cleaning your A/C unit ensures the machine is cooling and running optimally. Over the entire year, various debris can clog the cooling fins. A dirt-filled fan blower, low coolant levels, and other small issues will not only reduce the effectiveness of your unit, but also wear it out over time forcing you to invest more capital into property maintenance. This entire task can take less than 2 hours to complete and save you hundreds of dollars in the process.
3. Service the Heating System.
- With property maintenance, you can pay now or later. This applies directly to your heating system as well as everything else on this list. You need to check the system at least once annually to ensure optimal functioning and a long lifetime out of your home equipment.
4.Regularly Change Furnace Filters.
- A majority of your repair calls will relate to problems caused by irregular replacement of the furnace filter. Changing the furnace filters on a regular basis is a very effective preventative property maintenance habit. During the summer, handle problems with the filter and A/C unit before they begin. Otherwise, your tenants will call on their days off (usually evenings and weekends), disrupting your summer schedule.
5. Have an A/C or furnace solution Checklist.
- Create a checklist for tenants to walk through before calling you or the HVAC company. This prevents unnecessary service calls and also helps determine the problem in an efficient manner. Include the following on your checklist:
- Is the filter clean?
- Is the thermostat set correctly?
- Are there fresh batteries in the thermostat?
- Has the switch beside the furnace or A/C been accidently switched off?
- Has a fuse or breaker been tripped in the fuse box?
6. Install Carpet Without a Pad in Your Basement.
- Installing carpet without padding has multiple benefits. If water gets into the basement, it is much easier to dry the floor and carpet if there is no padding. If you are handling the property maintenance, this means less time on the job for you, and if you are hiring a company, you will spend less money. Mold and mildew will have a difficult time growing in a basement without the padding. If you have a pad in the basement and it gets wet, there is really no way to dry it before mold starts to grow. You must rip out the pad, dry the carpet, and then install a new pad. Depending upon the type of water infiltration and contamination, you may or may not be able to salvage the carpet.
7. Have a Weed and Feed Lawn Program.
- Curb appeal is critical to selling or renting a home and giving tenants a quality experience. Have a strategic, scheduled plan for your lawn. They don’t need to be the best lawns in the neighborhood, but they do need to blend in with the neighborhood at the very least. Schedule a regular time for mowing, fertilizing, and watering to assure the lawn looks optimal.
8. Fix Small Problems Before they Become Big Problems.
- Big problems both in life and with your rental property are best avoided by paying attention to small details. Water in the basement is a big problem that can be prevented by doing small things such as cleaning the gutters and making sure the grading of the landscape flows away from the foundation. It’s like getting a crack in your windshield. It starts out small, but before you know it, you have one big crack across your window. Focus on controlling and containing the smaller problems, and you will also prevent the larger ones from happening.
9. Choose Functional Equipment as Opposed to Fancy Equipment.
- Forget about how equipment looks and focus on how well it works. Consider getting a used direct drive Whirlpool washing machine that can be repaired with readily accessible parts as opposed to a new model that costs more to fix than to replace. There is no need to buy all new equipment. Put in a little extra effort upfront to find slightly used equipment, and you will save money in the long run.
10. Conduct Regular Maintenance Assessments.
- Assessments are time consuming but necessary for your rental investment and will mitigate property damage. Quarterly assessments will help protect your investment. This does not mean a drive-by visitation but a thorough walk through of the entire property. Consider conducting assessments during: move-ins, move-outs, and when law-enforcement is called to the property.
11. Use the Same Paint, Brand Color, and Sheen.
- If you have multiple properties, this will save you money and time with less visits to the store and less details to manage for each property. You will be surprised how long it takes to figure out what color the paint is for a particular property, have it mixed, and then do the same process with different colors for different properties. Systemize everything you can for your rentals, including paint colors.
12. Fix Water Leaks Right Away.
- If your water bill spikes unexpectedly, you may have a water leak. During your regular inspections, pay attention to the toilets, shower heads, outdoor/indoor faucets, and protect your outdoor spigots from freezing. Always track your water bill amount so you can gauge when the water bill is going up or spiking from the typical monthly cost.
Every athlete has glory-filled dreams of performing in front of millions of fans as they compete on their favorite professional team but few direct that passion to the day-to-day grind that involves no fans, no cheers and tons of hard work. The athletes that commit themselves to the grind also commit themselves to the greatness that accompanies it. Your rental property success demands the same attention to the small details and unglamorous work that will be required of you, if you are not working with a property manager, in order to succeed. Basic property maintenance procedures will never fill you with excitement but they will help you achieve greatness. Commit to these basics and profits will follow.
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