Insights from a Property Management Expert: Make Your Own Repairs and Save Money

Home repairsan interview with Michael Horn, VP Commercial Sales: Lowe’s

Michael Horn is no stranger to home repairs. He owned 27 rental units over the years, before signing up to help Lowe’s corporate develop it’s focus on property management and maintenance. This expert do-it-yourself shares his tips for saving money by choosing to do some of your own repairs:

What Types of Home Repair Projects Should You Do Yourself?

  • First, you must look at local building codes. Some jobs, like rough electrical and plumbing, require a licensed contractor or inspection.
  • Look for the most labor intensive jobs. Many of these are also basic in nature. Painting, cleaning, trim work all add major appeal. Even carpet replacement with few seams can be mastered, allowing you to save a bundle on labor charges.
  • Take the time to learn how to do repetitive, labor intensive jobs. The clinics at Lowe’s and do-it-yourself television networks target these tasks. Laying and maintaining tile or laminate flooring, trim work, painting and yard maintenance are prime areas where you can save money by doing it yourself.

Take the Middle Road with Home Repairs

Some jobs are more technical, require more than one person, or are time sensitive. When a tenant is without hot water, you have to consider keeping him happy over the cost savings of learning how to do it yourself, yet hiring a private contractor may be slow or cost prohibitive. Lowe’s offers a middle ground– quick installation services on common jobs, like installing garage doors or storm door replacements, that may be priced below the typical contractor. To decide if this is the best option for you, visit Lowe’s how-to calculator to see a materials list and time estimate for the job. Then, you can decide if it’s best to use your time, or theirs.

What Home Repair Tools Should You Invest In?

Nuts and boltsFor one-time jobs, Lowe’s stores offer a Nation’s Rent desk for tool rental. For other tools, consider the number of times you are likely to use it so you can amortize the cost, and how much time it will save you. Also, look at self-powered tools for situations when you have to work without electricity in the unit. Michael has his own list of recommended tools. Listen to his entire interview for his Checklist, including the importance of shims, which hardware to buy for the materials you are most likely to repair, and why you might consider a power washer — and avoid wasting money on tools and hardware you don’t need.

Hear more of this exclusive interview on the American Apartment Owners Association’s CD series, Real Estate Investment Secrets, twelve exclusive interviews with industry experts that will supercharge your ability to locate the best investment properties and manage or sell them for maximum profit. Real Estate Investment Secrets is available for purchase from American Apartment Owners Association. Join as a Premium Plus member, and receive all of the benefits of our association includingReal Estate Investment Secrets free as our gift for joining. Visit for more information.

Read our related feature, Tricks of the Trade: Finding Honest and Competent Contractors.

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