As a single family rental property owner, there will be many times when you need the assistance of a skilled and experienced contractor. That may be when you are preparing a newly purchased property for the first tenant. Or, you might need help with minor repairs required over the course of a tenant’s lease, or an unexpected emergency repair to keep the property habitable. And, it is also common to do a property “refresh” at the end of a long period of occupancy. For these scenarios and others, it’s critical that you have a good relationship with one or more experts in home repair and maintenance. And it helps to establish that relationship before you have an immediate need.
Why an Ongoing Relationship with a Contractor Matters
There are plenty of websites where you can find a contractor in your area. Consequently, many landlords will say, “When something breaks, I’ll find someone who can fix it.” Unfortunately for them, those are the property owners who find themselves in the uncomfortable position of having to tell a tenant it will be weeks before an issue can be addressed because the website contractors are booked.
On the other hand, landlords who take the time to establish an ongoing relationship with a contractor are much less likely to find themselves in that kind of bind. The contractor who knows you and knows you’ll keep coming back to them is much more willing to find time to get to your property even when they are busy.
Tips for Finding and Creating a Positive “Partnership” with a Contractor
● Get referrals. If someone you trust has a positive relationship with a good, reliable contractor, chances are you will too.
● Confirm that they are fully and currently licensed. You should never work with a contractor who isn’t properly licensed. And, you should not agree to move forward on a project or a relationship based on a contractor’s promise to obtain a license.
● Check their record with the Better Business Bureau and state/county authorities. Any contractor who has been in business for a while will likely have a few complaints lodged against them. Some customers are difficult to please. But, if the number feels high to you or there are allegations of serious wrongdoing, those are red flags.
● Confirm they have insurance. Once you have found a contractor you want to work with, be sure they can provide proof of the type and amount of insurance required in your area.
● Pay them promptly. The more quickly you can compensate a contractor for work performed, the more likely they are to respond promptly to your requests.
● Let them know about your plans for growing your SFR business. Interview contractors, tell them about your portfolio today, and your plans for growth. Let them know you’re looking for a good “partnership” and that their business will grow along with yours.
● Keep the “red alerts” to a minimum. Some issues that occur with a single family rental property need to be addressed as quickly as possible. Others, however, are less urgent. Be sure to “triage” the situation and only ask for an escalated response when truly necessary.
Your positive relationship with a contractor can provide many benefits, from work you know will meet your standards to a higher priority when it comes to scheduling. You might even get a discounted rate if you provide them a steady stream of work. Consequently, it pays to take the time to find the right person and maintain that connection going forward.