Maintenance Hacks May 2016

Maintenance Hacks: Tips & Tricks for the Savvy Landlord That You Have Never Heard of Before

This is part of the Worcester Rental Real Estate Networking and Training series.


[Start 0:00:00]


Rich: The name of this presentation is, Maintenance Hacks: Tips & Tricks for the Savvy Landlord That You Have Never Heard of Before, and if you have, just keep quiet about it, pretend you think it’s cool. Thanks! That’s the full title of this presentation.

One thing that would help me out a lot, can I ask you guys to do me a favor? Okay, I will anyway. Can you just talk back to me a little bit? You feel free to say yes, or no, or grunt, or oh, ah, if you see something particularly cool. Okay, can you guys help me out with that?


Male Audience: Yes.


Rich: Have a little bit of energy because you know what the person next to you is dozing off, maybe this will shame them into staying awake.

All right so there’s a whole spectrum when it comes to maintenance right from incompetence on one end of the spectrum, and in the middle you’ve got competence, and on the other end like super competence like where you can get really good quality stuff done in less steps, right? That’s where we all want to be in our business, don’t we?

Okay, so I’m going to buzz through a lot of these things pretty quickly and here we have incompetence. “When you earnestly believe that you can compensate for lack of skill by doubling your efforts, there’s no end to what you can do.”

All right, we’re going to try to stay away from that, yeah? We have some agreement over here.

This is a bathroom. This is a toilet. That’s where the toilet paper holder is. If you’re concerned right now that we got this picture from one of your apartment ads, don’t take notes during this presentation. It’s not for you. Just hire somebody, okay? This is not your forte. If you do hire somebody, find somebody with attention to detail. This is important [laughter]. This sign is supposed to say, “Preorder your grass plugs now,” so attention to detail is important in our business. Can we agree on that?


Audience: Yeah.


Rich: It is, right? We’re going to buzz through a couple of things and it’s going to save us all some time and money.

Here are our contributors. These are the people who contributed all of the things that we asked about before, so don’t applaud yet. Wait to see if you’re impressed, okay?

This is a hole in a wall. After every turnover, who finds these things in their walls? Now everybody is awake. Now the hands are going up. All right, in your own house, too, right? These things happen and you have to fix them. If this happens, that’s not over covering. You’re on your own, okay? We all know that some tenants do more damage to your building than others, okay but right now, we’re going to focus on these little holes.

This is really easy. Who’s ever seen this stuff before, DryDex? Okay, perfect, not that many people. This stuff is like a tube of toothpaste. It goes. It’s like cake icing. You just [unintelligible 0:02:39]. You squirt it in a hole in the wall and you use your little painter’s 5-in-1 tool. You smooth it out. It goes in pink; 15 minutes later, it dries white and you walk away like a champion. That’s what it says to do on the back of the tube. It’s part of the directions. You have to do that walk. It looks like this [laughter]. That’s it.

If somebody tells you, “Yeah, now but the hole is white and now it’s not the antique white or the Navaho white as the rest of the wall.” You can’t hear the detractors because you’re too busy doing your champion walk, okay? It’s better than a hole in the wall, isn’t it? It’s superior to the hole in the wall that was there before.

Okay, this is a termite. We don’t like them. This is what they do. We don’t like that. These are bad landlords. They’re not taking the termite problem seriously, okay?

This is a stick. Who feels confident in their ability to afford a stick? Okay, you should, right? This is low-cost stuff. This is the outside of the house. What you do is you take your pointed stick, drive it into the ground like 6 inches from the house, and if there are termites, what are they going to do with that stick?


Audience: Eat it.


Rich: They’re going to eat the stick. When would you rather know if you have termites? When you see the stick has been eaten or when your house is falling down?


Audience: [unintelligible 0:03:55].


Rich: The stick, right? Who feels they can handle pointed stick technology, right? Pull the stick out every 6 months, take a look at it, and that’s how you get an early warning about termites. I picked that one up from Ford’s Hometown Services. They want a list of contributors.

These are chopsticks. We all know what these are. They’re not just for eating your pepperoni pizza [laughter], okay? You can also use them for things like this. Who’s ever had this problem? Everybody in the room where the holes where the screws were supposed to go or stripped out and they’re useless now, right? You can use chopsticks. Hammer them in there.

You can also use some golf tee. You can also use matchsticks, but this is all depending upon the size of the hole, right? You can use toothpicks, so you can hammer some kind of piece of wood in there and replace the wood that’s there like and you just use a tool and then flatten it out and you’re good to go. Is that a pretty cool shortcut?


Audience: Yeah.


Rich: It’s pretty cool, right? You can also use it on cabinet doors. You can use it on towel holders on the wall, anything like that, and it will save you some time.

This guy is locked out of his house. Nobody likes that, right? No. This is an unrealistic picture, though, because the sun is shining. When do tenant lockouts happen? Do they happen during the daytime when it’s super convenient?


Audience: No.



Rich: No, they do not. They happen at 3 o'clock in the morning when you’re sound asleep, and this is you after the phone call. What you do is you get some deadbolts and it’s actually you who mentioned in our February meeting, or someone else mentioned it. It’s a super simple policy that you can use in all of your apartments. If you have a locking deadbolt, somebody physically has to have their key to lock their door, don’t they? Can they lock themselves out if they have the key in their hand?


Audience: No.


Rich: It makes it harder. I mean some people probably can still do it, okay but it certainly makes it harder, and then you just don’t have a lock on the pass-through knob, makes sense? Okay. You can also use one of this, combination; not as effective if people are drunk [laughter]. Then you can avoid finding this guy [laughter].

Now this is lipstick on a pig. This is our painting part of the presentation. We have a short painting video because Doug didn’t want me to actually paint the wall. I thought that would have been more hands on.


Doug: I think we might have a separate video through that here. One second; I’ll plug it in.


Rich: We’re going to hear from YouTube sponsor. By the way, has anybody ever had to paint? Yeah, everybody, right? Are you going to paint again? Yeah. This is going to be useful.


YouTube Video [0:06:23]

What I like to do is load up my brush with a lot of paint, and I tap it a couple of times and that’s a pretty heavily loaded brush, but I got control of it. I try to keep the paint on the bottom part, I say the bottom two-thirds of the bristles. That way, it won’t get up underneath this metal band ‑ once again, this is called a ferrule ‑ and then dry out and make my brush unusable. This has quite a bit of paint on my brush right now.

What I’m going to do is put on what I like to call my reservoir, so I stay quite a distance away from my finished product.

But you put it on pretty thick?

I am, indeed. What I’d like to do then is take it and just pick it up and push it back towards that interface with the casing and draw it down as far as I can. I can always come back and pick up a little bit more of my reservoir, but what I’m most concerned about right now, Kevin, is creating a nice clean line.



Rich: All right. I’m going to practice that on somebody else’s wall before I try that on mine. Do we have more slides?


Doug: Yeah.


Rich: We do. If I push this button, it will take me to that. That’s so cool. Okay, this is nice looking, right, with the little stones around the house. It’s way better than like overgrown grass and weeds, right? What’s neat about something like that is that you don’t need weed whacker.

Here’s what you do. You take the shovel and you dig about 3 inches around the perimeter, maybe about 2 feet from the house and you put down this weed block mesh stuff so that stuff can’t grow up from there and you get your three-quarter inch crushed stone and you fill in the hole. This way you don’t have to weed whack any of the edges because there are no edges. Sounds pretty good? Okay then you can take your weed whacker. You can sell it on eBay and you feel like a winner [laughter].

This also works great along driveways.

Who’s ever had an apartment with one of these plastic tub surrounds in it? Everybody, right? Quick question, which one looks better, this one or this one with the tile? The one with the tile does, right? What a lot of people don’t realize is that you can actually you can cheat. You can kind of go somewhere in between. You can get these vinyl stick tiles that look just like the other ones. They even have grout lines. You know these things start like $0.44 at Home Depot, don’t they? They’re pretty cheap. We did this. We boxed in – this isn’t our picture – we boxed in a claw-foot tub like this and it looks way better. Then some of the other stuff.

This is gross. This is brown water coming out of a faucet. Has anybody experienced this? Yeah. Nobody likes this. Okay, so what happens with this is a lot of times this is rust when the city is doing pipe work around the city, right? It’s bad for your water heaters, so if you get a call from your tenant or email and they tell you that the water is brown, and they’re blaming you because they always blame you, right?


Audience: Yeah.


Rich: They always blame me. It’s always something I did to them personally. Tell them to run the coldwater because if they run the hot water, then where’s that rust going to go? In the water heater, and that’s not good for the water heater, so that’s a good tip, right?

This guy is tiling underneath the sink because what inevitably happens underneath sinks?


Audience: Drip.


Rich: Drips, leaks. Is that good for the cabinet? It’s not good for the cabinet. Okay, so this guy is tiling under there. Again you don’t have to actually do a whole tile job. You can use some of the vinyl ones, maybe not as foolproof but still very nice, still an improvement.

Okay, this is an electric baseboard. Everybody has seen one of these, right? Apparently these things need to be cleaned for efficiency. Whoever cleans this? Okay, not that many people. We should. I actually didn’t know this. You can use a leaf blower to clean this. Who likes this idea? This sounded pretty cool to me, okay? You can use this and clean them off and get – now this is if people don’t live in the apartment, by the way. If they live in the apartment, do not go walking around, running a leaf blower around their children, knocking them over and stuff like that [laughter]. You can also use a can of compressed air. These things are cheap. You can get it on Staples, or Amazon or something.


You can also use it to clean your boiler because these things need to be cleaned as well, so that’s kind of like two tips in one.

You can use the leaf blower to clean the snow off your car.

Is that pretty cool? It’s like three tips in one.

Thank you [laughter]! This is what I’m talking about. This is the last one, guys. Who likes to pay for plumbers? Nobody!


Audience: Nobody.


Rich: No. You do not like to pay for plumbers, $95 an hour, or $125 an hour whatever it is. If you got to unclog a drain with a Shop-Vac, will that be better than paying a plumber? Yes, it would, so check this out. Here’s your basic anatomy of a tub. You’ve got your drain down there. You got your clog, and up at the top, this guy is running a snake through the overflow hole, you know a little hole up there? You run a snake down there.

Here’s what you do. You take off the drain cover and there a couple of different kinds. You might need a screwdriver to loosen the screw or maybe just rotate this thing. You take off the overflow cover, and then as you see in this picture, this guy is actually putting the Shop-Vac hose in the tub drain to create some suction. You see what he’s doing with his hand? He’s about to cover up the overflow hole because when you do that, it creates a complete vacuum, and then when you release it, it releases the vacuum. What you’re doing is you’re creating tension. You’re creating vacuum on the clog, and you’re releasing it. What happens is it kind of agitates. It moves it around and when that does that do? It losses it up. It breaks it up, right, so you’re able to get it out of there. You got it out of there [laughter].

Everybody has a Shop-Vac, right, but your tenants might not have one of this kicking around, but they probably have one of this because you put it in their bathroom, right? If this person is somewhat reliable, that they’re not going to injure themselves with the plunger. You can even explain this to them and see if they can undone it themselves. Does that round better than even you going there? It’s way better, right? You can’t do this with every tenant. That’s a judgment call on your part.

If somebody tells you that you need to buy a snake to put in your drain, and this is where you go, again this presentation was not for you. You need to be hiring somebody else to handle these things for you. It doesn’t make you a bad person. We all have our limitations.

You feel like this guy, walking away from an explosion like nothing is happening. I’ve never actually done that, but I imagine it feels pretty cool, and when you can unclog a drain with a plunger or a Shop-Vac and you don’t have to hire a plumber to come out, that will be a pretty cool feeling, wouldn’t it?

All right, so might think this stuff is about property management, but it’s not. It’s really about doing everything you can to feel superior to others, isn’t it [laughter]? Absolutely! That’s what this is about.

Let’s have a hand for our contributors [applause]. Some of those things were pretty cool, huh? All right.


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