To DIY or not to DIY? That is the Question!

As a landlord, it’s inevitable you’ll have to carry out repairs and maintenance on your properties. This raises the question of whether it’s a good idea, or a bad one, for landlords to be doing DIY tasks in their rental homes.


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While everyone wants to save money, particularly in today’s economic climate, if you take on too much, it could backfire and end up costing you more in the long term if you need to call in a professional to repair any damage you’ve caused.

There are several common property issues that every landlord faces. One of the main ones is home decorating, whether it’s at the end of a tenancy as you prepare for new tenants or for the ongoing upkeep of your properties. Other necessary jobs are electrical work, plumbing, roofing and sometimes structural changes.

What are the signs you should call professionals?

Carefully consider each job individually and decide whether you have the ability to complete it successfully, or whether you should call the professionals. No matter how confident you are about a certain project, weigh up the pros and cons of tackling it.

First, decide whether a lack of experience could make the situation worse. It will be more expensive to call in the A Team to rectify any blunders, and there’s a chance you could make the house uninhabitable in the worst-case scenario. If a bad job could endanger tenants, never even consider a DIY attempt.

Secondly, could you get hurt yourself? If it involves heavy lifting, electricity or gas, never take it on unless you’re qualified to do so. If you simply don’t have the skillset, don’t even go there!

If you decide you do have the relevant skills or qualifications to carry out a certain job, also consider how long it will take you. A massive job that will span over a few days may take you away from other projects that require your attention.


When is it better to get a professional?

There are some jobs you should never do yourself unless you’re qualified. In particular, any electrical work could endanger your own and your tenants’ safety if you make a mistake. A fully qualified electrician needs to test your rental property every five years under the latest safety laws.

Any major rewiring work should never be attempted yourself. Similarly, don’t take on advanced plumbing jobs unless you’re a plumber. For anything more complex than a dripping tap or blocked U-bend, call a trained professional – it’s likely to be the better option! If your own DIY repairs didn’t fix the problem, you may have inadvertently made it worse.

Surveys reveal that 31% of landlords are contracting out all their repairs and maintenance jobs, 19% are doing it themselves and 50% are doing a combination of both. Most landlords have been happy with their choice of solutions, with 84% saying they are “confident” they have made the right decision.

The top three factors driving the decision to go pro are the quality of service the professionals can provide; value for money; and tenant safety and satisfaction. Other considerations are the ease of the maintenance job and the flexibility of the contractors, including their ability to work with minimal supervision.

According to UK insurers, the biggest cause of damage to rental properties is water leaks, accounting for 34% of landlord insurance claims. This can include leaking pipes, baths, water tanks, sinks, toilets, washing machines and dishwashers.

While a burst pipe can cause very obvious damage straight away, the highest claims are often for slow leaks. For example, a slow leak underneath a bath that hasn’t been repaired properly can cause considerable damage over time, as this can rot the floorboards.


What tasks are okay for DIY?

Relatively simple tasks, such as installing fixtures and fittings, are something a DIY enthusiast can normally manage. Home decorating is also something landlords tend to tackle themselves. The majority of landlords say they redecorate their portfolio once every five years, or when old tenants move out and new ones move in.

When it comes to furnishing a property, most landlords will do this themselves, often choosing a furniture packs supplier to save them time and money. This is safer in terms of moving potentially heavy items of furniture, as handling and lifting incorrectly is one of the top six causes of DIY injuries.

Taking personal safety seriously is something every landlord should do, even with a simple job. The most common injuries caused by DIY jobs result from falling – often from a ladder. If you’re planning to clear leaves from your tenants’ gutters this autumn, make sure someone is holding onto your ladder before you climb the rungs.

The second most common injury type is cuts that require stitches. Often caused by hacksaws, saws or other sharp tools; you should always wear heavy-duty work gloves to provide protection against cuts and nicks when tackling a DIY job.

While it pays to be thrifty and save money where you can, if a DIY job is likely to cause you an injury or cost a lot of money should it go wrong, it’s always preferable to call in the professionals. Just be honest with yourself: are you the right man for the job?

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