Yep, I said it.
I absolutely, in no way, enjoy working with contractors who do work on my house! I understand that a lot of you do, and that is totally fine. I can see the appeal and where it could be fun to rehab or fix up a property that you’ve bought, but personally, I can’t stand it.
A lot of real estate investing revolves around fixing up properties. One of the best things that fixing up a property can do is force appreciation. On a more minor scale, people fix up properties just because they need some work done on them due to normal wear and tear or whatever other reason.
Hear Me Out
When I talk about contractors in this article, I’m putting more emphasis on the former as I’m thinking more in terms of doing improvements to properties than I am repairs. Contractors doing repairs for me rarely bother me, because the item is either fixed or it’s not. If it’s not, I tell them to come back, no problem. But improvements, such as anything requiring specifications of any level, is where I have the problem.
It’s fixing up houses, i.e. doing these improvements, to either sell or rent the property out that plays such a big role in real estate investing. I get it, I get why people want to do that, and it makes total sense to me. Do I want any part of it? NO.
Don’t get me wrong, contractors are far from the only people in the industry that can be frustrating to work with.
For example, property managers especially have a bad rep and can be difficult to deal with. For me, though, property managers are easier to manage than contractors because it’s the management style or technique that has to be dealt with. It’s a slower-paced managing of those guys, whereas contractors are a fast-paced group because they are working project by project — and get paid per project rather than a slow and steady on-going pay structure.
Then, of course, the big one with contractors is that you can see the results, visually! If a contractor paints the side of your property, you can see if he did a good job. If he fixes a leak in your roof, you can see if it still leaks. The latter is more of an example of repairs, but you get the point. I guess if you want to get technical, you can “see” a property manager’s work too, but in this case I’m thinking more in terms of the complication of needing a contractor to redo something versus just telling a property manager to adjust something (which isn’t necessarily a redo, and especially not a redo that could potentially cost you more money, as could be the case with a contractor).
Related: My Plan to Optimize Contractors and Begin Taking More Control of Repairs
Whatever, you get the point. So where all this is coming from is that I just recently hired a contractor to do some work on the house that I currently live in and the whole thing has been nothing but expensive, unsuccessful (so far) and stressful. Most of my day(s) since the work started have been taken up by this situation.
Do you know how many other things I could have been accomplishing in that time had I not had to use all my brain power over this contractor situation?
I’m going to give you two quick examples of times, including this one, that working with contractors has stressed me (and my wallet) to no end and in the end never even gave me the product that I was hoping for.
Contractor Flop #1
When I bought my very first house (personal residence) in Atlanta, the first major improvement I wanted to do was a driveway addition that extended around the side of the house so that multiple cars could park in the driveway.
The addition would allow some cars to pull to the side of the house — still on the driveway — with enough room to be able to get out around the cars behind them if necessary. I went over all of this with the contractor, and he swore he understood exactly what I meant about needing the cars to be able to get out around each other (meaning, the extension needed to start out in front of the side of the house in order to give enough spacing).
Sure enough, some $5000-something later, I had the driveway extension around the side of the house, but it started too close to the house, which caused it to still only allow a single-file line of cars in, so no room for anyone to get out. I addressed this to him, very obvious in my concern about the major missing part to the driveway, and he said there’d be no way to add that part in now that the rest of the driveway was done. I would have to hire it as a whole new job, i.e. pay for the addition as an individual job and not part of the other extension (meaning, expensive) and other than that, “Oh well” — nothing he could do.
Are you kidding me?
I just spent $5,000-something dollars on a driveway extension that didn’t meet the biggest requirement I had for the whole project in the first place. Granted, what was done was nice, but even then there was a ridiculously sharp drop-off that he didn’t fill in that I wasn’t happy about. I had no options of anything that could fix it unless I wanted to shell out another few thousand. No thanks!
To this day, cars can’t get out around each other in that driveway.
Contractor Flop #2
This is the one from this week. It is only about a 10% of the cost of the driveway project, so not nearly as detrimental, but stressful nonetheless.
All I needed was bookshelves built into my wall to hold my books. …read more