Don’t get burned
One of the biggest headaches rental property landlords face is dealing with property maintenance and renovations. Looking after property issues that arise can be incredibly time consuming, therefore having strong relationships with reliable contractors is a necessity. The critical word in that sentence is “reliable”. If you don’t have a rolodex of reliable contractors, you will end up wasting just as much time babysitting them, micromanaging the project, or worst of all, the job will not be completed and you will need to finish it yourself or find another contractor.
Now that we have your attention, let’s help answer the question of how landlords can find reliable contractors, sub-trades and handymen (and women). Here are a few tips you should consider:
Reach out to your network for their best referrals
The best place to find reliable contractors and capable handymen should be in your personal and professional networks. This works very well if you have a large network of professional real estate investors and landlords because they are often very willing to provide referrals. Even if your network of real estate professionals is small, you can ask individuals in your personal network as well. These days, it could be as easy as letting everyone on your Instagram or Facebook accounts know that you are looking for a specific job to be completed. Word of caution when asking for referrals: Confirm whether the person being referred has actually performed work for the person making the referral. People will sometimes refer a close friend or family member who is “in the business” because of their personal relationship with the contractor, instead of referral based on merit (i.e. previously completed project).
Another good place to look for reliable contractors is online. It is 2019 after all. It’s as simple as Googling local companies, visiting websites like “HomeStars”, or replying directly to individuals that are advertising as contractors or posting “looking for work” ads. Some of the best classified websites to visit are: Kijiji.com, Craigslist.com, or facebook.com/marketplace/. On these websites, you can search by your local area for nearby contractors depending on your needs. Most contractors will provide a description of the work they specialize in and provide examples of previous projects. If you provide enough information about your project, you could even receive prices or rough quotes before you ever meet them. Whether meeting contractors in person or asking for quotes via email, it is a best practice to request quotes from 3 different contractors. If you are just starting out in real estate investing or if you are undertaking a large project, more quotes could be obtained as well.
Find contractors working on site
This is not as strong as the previous methods, but if you are in a pinch, finding and meeting contractors on job sites is another way to seek out contractors. This method can take many different forms. For example, you may need your roof repaired and while running errands one day, you see a crew of workers repairing a roof. It might make sense to strike up a conversation to see if they are looking for more work. One of the benefits of this method is that you can already see your potential contractors working, therefore getting a first-hand look at the cleanliness of their site, how fast they work, and how professionally they carry themselves. This can be an especially good source of finding contractors if you work in a related industry, because you’ll frequently be around different contractors as part of your daily schedule. A word of warning for this method, try to be respectful of contractors current responsibilities. “Poaching” contractors from a job isn’t looked upon favorably in the construction or real estate industry.
Being an example of reliability
The final tip depends on you. Treat your good and reliable contractors like gold. There will always be bad contractors which all investors try to stay away from, however, there are many contractors who, if given the proper environment, can be a huge asset to you business. Make sure to be very clear in expectations, responsibilities, timelines, and payment schedules. Provide structure and know which tasks can or cannot be assigned to certain contractors. Also, make sure that you are somebody that is “easy to work for”. It is much easier to keep an existing business relationship than to build a new one.
Now get out there and ask for those quotes!