Maintenance Men – Can’t Live With Them, Can’t Live Without Them!

Maintenance Men – Can’t Live With Them, Can’t Live Without Them!

14:21 PM, 31st October 2011, About 12 years ago 10

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A couple of weeks ago I started a discussion thread on Property Tribes about the trials and tribulations of dealing with trades in terms of property maintenance. It started out as a bit of a rant after my long-standing builder and I “had words”. Actually, he came over after sensing that I’d got my knickers in a twist about lack of visible progress on starting some roofing work before the winter and bravely sat in my kitchen whilst I launched a stiff accusation of “it’s not bloody rocket science – I just want a start date, quote and timescale. I’m not asking you to perform brain surgery and if I knew anything about roofs or wasn’t scared of scaffolding, I’d do it myself!”

The thing is, like lovers, tenants or anyone you’re not blood related to, if they say “I promise I won’t let you down” they invariably do. It’s not their fault, they know how to get you hooked with initial enthusiasm, then, as soon as they’ve secured what they wanted, they move on to bigger and better things without telling you. Innumerable unanswered phone calls and broken promises later, you realise you’ve been let down.

I always likened choosing good maintenance people to proverbially kissing frogs in the hope of finding a prince. For the record, I don’t kiss trades but am so hopelessly inadequate with any kind of maintenance work that I really could when I hear the words “Don’t worry, I know what’s wrong and I’ll fix it now” (Just don’t call me “Love”). During my five years of property investing I’ve gone through two builders, one handyman, four plumbers, two electricians and they’ve all been dumped when it became clear that they were only interested in the big jobs and strung me along when promising to fix the small ones. We had the builder who, after putting in a new bathroom, the kitchen ceiling below fell in 2 months later due to water leaks (not his fault apparently), the plumber who “forgot” to connect a radiator, the electrician who positively salivated at the installation of a fire alarm system but couldn’t be bothered to move a socket, and another plumber who promised me faithfully to sort out a leak under the sink and after several no shows, kept forgetting to answer his phone.

It kind of links me nicely to a blog I posted “That’s it! I’m going to rent”. My maintenance bill is around £15k a year and more this year due to Hurricane Irene bringing down fences in the north and a kind tenant who finally got herself a council house so felt it OK to trash my rental property.

I’m not a landlord who holds back on maintenance issues – I have a constantly changing maintenance schedule which is updated as quickly as a weekly food shopping list. I prioritise according to budget and I thank the God of the Bank of England that they’ve reduced interest rates so that I can afford to do the work, otherwise I’d be seriously strapped.

I received the following text from one of my tenants yesterday “Hi, thank you very much for resolve the problem with sink in our room. Now is much better, we have cold water too, new sink and water inside goes very quickly. Have a nice day :)”. That job cost £400 due to a blockage underneath the floorboards, new sink and taps of tenant’s choice but it’s worth it just to give my grumpy Pole hot AND cold running water.

Generous or what?!!!

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chris howells

22:36 PM, 2nd November 2011, About 12 years ago

I have been in your shoes. Finally I have a great gas/plumber,electrician, but most of all a builder who did a conversion for me approx 4 years ago who has been fantastic. As he has so much experience, problems I have previously with roof leaks, damp in wall , drains, guttering etc, he has been able to fix with minimum inconvenience. Now I have complete trust in his work , and know I can ask for his expert advice and he will solve any problem I have . What a relief! I have now given his name to a few other landlords and he is always busy however, he always fits me in and he is my first port of call for any problem.

Ian Ringrose

12:39 PM, 3rd November 2011, About 12 years ago

Maybe you need to find a plumber or electrician that is also able to do most building work. Then offer to pay them to work for you one day a week that way they don’t have the costs of quoting etc and you have someone on hand.

If you could get together with some other landlords in your area, could you jointly employee trade people?


17:12 PM, 3rd November 2011, About 12 years ago

Thanks for your comments. I've now got a few trades to hand but this was an opportunity to have a little rant!

19:37 PM, 3rd November 2011, About 12 years ago

Being on "the other side of the fence", as a tradesman myself, because I am multi-skilled (plasterer, joiner, kitchen fitter, bathroom installations, loft/cellar conversions) I find I can accommodate lots of "little jobs" into one day and reduces the cost of paying several tradesman. This works for myself and my clients, working for myself for 8 years it's your reputation that gets you repeat work. Small jobs can lead to bigger jobs but at the same time it's a reciprocal relationship between trade and client. Give me a shout if you need any works in the future!


20:24 PM, 3rd November 2011, About 12 years ago

Thanks, Gavin. It's great to hear from someone who has the right attitude. Us unskilled landlords need you probably more than you need us!

21:06 PM, 3rd November 2011, About 12 years ago

Happy to help! Are you on Linkedin? Feel free to connect with me. Happy to also connect with anyone else on this thread.


10:39 AM, 15th November 2011, About 12 years ago

Hi Gavin. Sorry for late reply. I'm not on Linked In yet but feel free to email me via my website (click on my name) and let me know what areas you cover. Alternatively, can I find your details on Property 118?!

Mark Alexander - Founder of Property118

11:21 AM, 15th November 2011, About 12 years ago

Hi Serena

We don't have a Social Media platform for members to send private messages or to add connections just yet but watch this space, it's coming!


11:30 AM, 15th November 2011, About 12 years ago

You think of everything, Mark!

Mark Alexander - Founder of Property118

18:55 PM, 30th December 2011, About 12 years ago

Our very own HMO Landlady is one of the finalists in the Prime Location blog competition for 2011, please vote for her via this link 

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