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To Be Or Not To Be A Diy Fan?

Before you pick up a paint brush it’s crucial to weigh up that question, writes Greg Watson.

By: Greg Watson

2 October 2023

When it comes to enhancing rental properties, many owners contemplate whether to take the DIY route or hire professionals. The decision may seem straightforward, but several factors come into play, including costs, skill level, and time commitment.

Revamping a rental offers multiple advantages such as higher rent, attracting better tenants, and safeguarding the property’s capital value. Frequently, landlords seek advice on prioritising renovations based on their budget, especially during tenant turnover.

Choosing to renovate yourself, like repainting the home, involves considering variables. Not only do you need to account for the material costs, but also the rental income loss during the vacancy and the value of your time. The quality of work is another concern; you must weigh up whether you can match a professional’s expertise.

Costs And Challenges

I remember a couple who had a small two-bedroom unit which was very dated. The husband worked full-time, and the wife decided to do the wallpaper stripping and painting the interior, between tenants. It ended up taking longer than they thought as the wallpaper was extremely difficult to remove and took about a week of hard work, including sanding just to prep the walls for painting.

They even had to buy extra tools for the job like a wallpaper steamer, various scrapers, tape, paint, a sander and putty. The property ended up having a vacancy of about a month and the “lost income” which goes with that.

I don’t know about you, but I highly value my personal time away from my work. I know what my hourly work charge-out rate is for my day-to-day job. I value my personal time at double that rate because I treasure those hours with family, friends or even by myself as they can be a bit few and far between.

The Professionals

One alternative is to obtain quotes from professionals and compare them with your estimated costs, which should include material, time, and potential rental income loss. For instance, a professional painter could complete a job in one or two days, allowing tenants to move in quickly. This speeds up the rental process, minimising income loss.

A well-maintained property is more likely to attract responsible tenants, reducing risks like property damage or rent default. In contrast, a poorly maintained property is more likely to attract high-risk tenants, potentially resulting in increased time and resources spent on legal processes, including Tenancy Tribunal hearings.

Rent Reductions

It’s possible to renovate while tenants are occupying the property, provided there is mutual agreement. Offering a temporary rent reduction during the renovation could be an incentive. However, be cautious as an extended renovation could lead to a claim for breaching the tenant’s right to “quiet enjoyment”.

Whether to opt for DIY or professional help boils down to a mix of tangible and intangible costs. DIY can be fulfilling, but also fraught with hidden expenses and time commitments. Professional help, while upfront more costly, may save you time and long-term financial loss.

So, before you pick up that paint brush it’s crucial to weigh up all factors to make an informed decision.

Greg Watson is an experienced property manager who excels in providing informed advice and continuously improving the property management service. He is a recognised industry expert, winning national awards and contributing to industry standards. Phone 06 353 7274, www.watsonrealestate.nz


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