When an investment property has an issue requiring professional help, plumber, electrician, HVAC, when at all possible be present for the initial visit and repair work. In my case the need for a contractor for repairs has been rare but there are areas of repair that I am either not comfortable in performing or its just plain out of my league. In my experience with dealing with contract work, I have found being present for the servicing and having a good understanding of the maintenance issue will save you big time money.
99% of the contractors out there are honest and hard working, striving to meet or exceed your expectations in order to grow there clientage. This does not mean that you should simply make the call and trust in their abilities and honesty blindly. I believe that if you couldn’t be bothered to show up and walk them through the issue in person, they are given a little more latitude in how they might perform the repair work. I have experienced this difference first hand and note that when I am present the repair goes a lot quicker and smoother.
A recent example comes to mind. My rental property in VT had a water issue that cropped up on a Friday evening over the summer. I received the call at 8PM and the tenant was distressed that she had absolutely no water. I advised a few trouble shooting steps but they all came out negative in fixing the issue. I contacted a recommended plumbing company the next day and they went out in short order. Since the property is a 2 hour drive for me, I could not be present for the visit. The plumber called back with the news that he simply could not resolve the issue and charged me for the service call. He stated he could not find the breaker for the well pump and needed more information on the system. He advised getting a well pump company out to take a look.
Once I secured the well pump company and secured a time for the visit for Monday afternoon, I took a drive out to meet with them. While waiting I checked all the valves, filter and breaker, (I easily found it in one of the units, clearly marked as ‘Pump’). All where in good shape and seemed to be working. When the contractor arrived I explained the issue and noted the likely cause would be found in the well area itself. We lifted a massive concrete lid from the well which exposed all of the well components, (pressure tank, control unit and other electronics. All components looked fairly new as I had recently had the unit serviced and inspected. Within 10 minutes the problem was discovered. The control unit breaker had failed and the control unit was replaced, fixing the issue. I helped by turning on and off water in the units to calibrate and reset the pump. The service call took under one hour and all was ‘well’ with the well.
I was very relieved at such an easy and cheap fix, the job could have easily run into the thousands depending on the issue. I did wonder in the back of my mind why the first contractor couldn’t even locate the breaker, but again I should have been present for the service call. I have had a few similar experiences over the years and always regret not being able to be there in person for a service visit. Do yourself a favor, make every effort to be present during these contractor repairs, they will run smoothly and you just might learn something during the repair process!