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Property Management Maintenance: 5 Tips to Keep Costs Down

Key Takeaways

  • Overpaying for property management maintenance can put a big dent in your profits. Start saving by researching the average cost of the service you need, creating a realistic budget, and hiring the right tradesperson.
  • Begin looking for qualified tradespeople through your network of family and friends. Joining an online discussion group for landlords and using home service directories to evaluate local contractors are also great options.
  • Take your time when hiring a contractor to ensure they can get the job done correctly. Compare quotes from multiple companies, review warranties, and verify that contractors have the appropriate licenses to carry out their work.

Published on Feb 21, 2024 | Updated on Feb 21, 2024

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Regular property management maintenance is necessary, but there’s a hidden pitfall: it’s easy to overspend if you don’t have a sound plan.

This is especially true when it comes to hiring a tradesperson for more complex work. A trustworthy and reliable contractor will do the job right the first time, and they’ll charge a reasonable price for doing so.

In this article, we’ll share expert tips on how to save on your property management maintenance costs and find affordable, quality contractors.

Tip #1: Set your budget

Deciding how much you’re willing to spend is the first step to keep your rental maintenance costs down. To create a realistic rental maintenance budget that balances quality and affordability, you need to understand the type of service you need and research the average price the market is charging for it.

Understand the type of property management maintenance work

To estimate the cost of hiring a tradesperson, assess the nature of the repairs or maintenance service you need. What type of work is involved? How long will it take to finish? What’s the level of expertise required? Is it a routine service or a large-scale repair? 

For example, essential servicing and a tune-up of your HVAC unit is a routine maintenance task that costs only a few hundred dollars. In contrast, a significant repair or replacement of the air conditioner, compressor, or furnace could set you back thousands of dollars. 

Your rental maintenance budget should account for routine maintenance, which costs relatively little. But it should also factor in unpredictable repairs, which may set you back a hefty sum. Setting aside a portion of your rental income into a reserve fund to cover the latter will ensure you have the money when needed. 

Estimate the average cost of the repairs or maintenance

To set an appropriate budget, determine the average cost for the repair or maintenance service you need. 

Many websites can help you figure out the cost of home improvement projects, such as Fixr and HomeGuide. Simply type in the necessary details, such as your location and the item that needs fixing, and the calculator will provide you with a cost estimate. Most of these sites also offer an assortment of detailed guides that outline expected costs for various home maintenance projects. 

Naturally, tradespeople will charge a mark-up for the work they do. But, assessing the cost of materials, labor, and supplies will arm you with enough knowledge to know whether the prices they quote are reasonable.

Tip #2: Tap into your network

If you need a stellar tradesperson for crucial maintenance work, the best place to start your search is by consulting your network. Ask your family and friends if they know a reliable contracting company that has done repair work for their home.

Besides those in your family and social circle, you can ask your neighbors, co-workers, and professionals you work with, such as your realtor. Post a message on your social media platforms to boost your chances of finding quality leads. Inform as many people as possible about the type of service you’re seeking.

Local home improvement retailers and building supply centers can also be excellent sources of leads. They may have business cards from plumbers, carpenters, landscapers, and other professionals who use the store to advertise their services.

Tip #3: Do your (online) research

There’s plenty of information you can gather about tradespeople online. Don’t simply rely on  Google searches though: take the time to find trusted sites with objective recommendations from like-minded people. Consider some of the options below:

Social media discussion groups

You can find discussion groups on almost every conceivable topic on social media platforms, including property management maintenance. By joining one, you can tap into valuable insider knowledge about which contractors to hire.

Facebook is one place that’s brimming with landlord groups. For example, consider joining the Alberta Landlord Community if you live in Alberta. If you own a rental property in Texas, check out Texas Landlords.

Neighborhood review websites

Another excellent source for professional contractors is neighborhood review websites like Nextdoor. Once you sign up, you’ll get access to a forum where you can ask about tradespeople in your area and find their contact details.

Tradespeople directories

Several online platforms connect homeowners with tradespeople to repair and maintain their properties. These are usually called service professional directories or home services websites.

Here are a few notable options:

These sites do all the legwork for you by compiling a database of qualified professionals in carpentry, electrical work, plumbing, and other specialties. They also provide valuable details like customer reviews, quote comparisons, and examples of past work, to help you make an informed hiring decision. 

Tip #4: Pay attention to trade associations, certifications, and licensing

The last thing you want is to hire a contractor who lacks the necessary knowledge, skills, and experience. Not all tradespeople need a license to engage in their chosen field, but some do. Plumbers, electricians, and HVAC technicians are examples of trades that are subject to licensing requirements.

The requirements for licensing vary, so ensure you become familiar with the ones in your region. Any honest tradesperson can provide their license number and proof of certification. You can verify if it’s valid by contacting the local regulatory agency for the trade.

You’ll also want to check if they’re a member of any association related to their line of work. Being a member of a regional or national association shows they’re dedicated to their profession, follow a set of standards and expectations, and are keen on enhancing their skills.

Tip #5: Assess quotes and warranties

Comparing quotes from several contractors is a good way to ensure you get a fair deal on price. Gather quotes from at least four companies. Ideally, two should be from large companies and two from small firms. That way, you’ll get a broad perspective on the typical market rate for the industry and you’ll have enough information to assess if an estimate is fair. 

When evaluating quotes, the two key items you should examine are:

Labor costs. Are they charging a flat fee or an hourly rate? How many workers will be on-site to do the job? Ideally, the labor cost should be a separate line item. If not, ask for a breakdown to understand better the price you’ll be paying. Ensure any necessary sub-trades appear on the quote as well, along with their accompanying costs. 

Material costs. How much material are they using for the job? Does it seem like they’re using too much (which will result in you overpaying) or too little (which will lead to a higher-than-expected bill once work is complete)? All materials should list their brand names and model numbers.

Look out for the warranty

A warranty is the other critical document you’ll want to see from any contractor. It specifies that aspects of the labor and materials are covered and for how long. It also contains instructions for how to access the warranty service. Examine it closely to see if you’re comfortable with the terms.

Mac's Pro Tip

A professional contractor should always be transparent and provide a warranty regardless of their trade. If they don’t supply one and inform you that they’ll “fix anything if it breaks down,” that’s a red flag.

Our final thoughts

To keep your property management maintenance costs down, you must master the skill of finding quality tradespeople at a reasonable price. Become familiar with your required services and set an appropriate budget. Ask people you trust and use online platforms to gather recommendations. Be sure to do your due diligence as well by verifying each contractor’s credentials. Whether you’re in search of an electrician or struggling to choose a roofing contractor, explore our rental property maintenance resources to know what to look for when hiring a trained professional.

Learn more about Maintenance

Learn more about Maintenance

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5. Property Management Maintenance: 5 Tips to Keep Costs Down
Library Books IconOther Blog Posts In This Series
  1. How to Manage Rental Property Maintenance Issues
  2. How to Conduct a Rental Inspection (Checklist Included)
  3. The Ultimate Preventative Property Maintenance Checklist
  4. Rental Property Maintenance Costs: How Much Should I Budget?
  5. Property Management Maintenance: 5 Tips to Keep Costs Down
  6. Rental Repairs: DIY or Hire a Pro?
  7. How to Winterize a House: Working With Your Tenants
  8. Who Should Supply Maintenance Equipment: Tenants or Landlords?
  9. Are Landlords or Tenants Responsible for Maintenance Tasks?
  10. Does the Quality of Rental Maintenance Increase When Rent Prices Rise?
  11. How Fast Should a Landlord Act to Fix Mold Issues?
  12. Is Rent Withholding Legal If Landlords Don’t Make Repairs?
  13. How to Find a Drywall Contractor for Your Rental Property
  14. How Landlords Can Choose a Roofing Contractor
  15. Hiring a Landscaper for Your Rental Property
  16. Rental Repairs and Maintenance: What is a Landlord Responsible For?
  17. Finding an Electrician for Your Rental
  18. How to Manage the Rental Property Lawn
  19. How Landlords Can Interview Furnace Repair Companies
  20. How Landlords Can Hire an Affordable Plumber for Their Rental Property
  21. Hiring a Repair Person for Your Driveway and Sidewalk Needs
  22. Hiring an HVAC Contractor and Keeping Up With Maintenance
  23. Spotting Foundation Issues in Your Rental Property
  24. Finding a Pool Service for Your Investment Property
  25. Finding a Painter for Your Rental Property

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