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The Most Expensive Property Repairs — and How To Avoid Them

Contractor and Property Owner Inspecting Roof DamageOwning a rental property in the San Fernando Valley is a lot of work. You’re not doing this as a charitable act: if you’re not making money, then all you have is a very stressful and expensive hobby. Expensive property repairs can sap your rental income and turn rental ownership into a nightmare. Problems with the foundation, structure, cooling and heating, pipes, or roof can start to add up. In this article, we’ll review the costliest property repairs, how you can prevent them, and when you need to call in an electrician, HVAC contractor, or plumber here in California.

Foundation & Structure

At its most basic, your property is a foundation with four exterior walls and a roof. That’s fundamentally what makes it a viable dwelling. If the foundation, walls, or ceiling are compromised or damaged, you’re in trouble. Not only are these repairs typically expensive, but—in most cases and places—they also give your renter adequate cause to leave and potentially void the lease. For many property owners in San Fernando Valley, losing rental income is the cherry on top of a rather foul sundae.

Most foundation and structural issues are caused by water and soil. The earth beneath our homes may feel solid, but it’s moving—and not just in an earthquake as moisture comes and goes, soil shifts and sinks. Many foundation cracks and leaks start as part of the soil beneath the home contracts. If heavy rain saturates the soil, it can lead to leaks in the foundation. Of course, water can also get into your home and impact the structure through a roof leak.

To prevent foundation and structure issues, hire an inspector every so often to come out and take a look at your property. They’ll be able to warn you about coming trouble before it gets to a disastrous (and expensive) stage. Also, this goes without saying, but make sure you schedule regular termite inspections, as well. Termites are another major threat to your property.

Water Damage

Any water damage is bad news for your rental. Water can destroy flooring, weaken the structure, and damaged furniture. Most infamously, hidden water leaks create the perfect conditions for mold and mildew growth, which may be a severe health hazard to your renter and grounds for them vacating the property if you don’t adequately address the problem. 

You can’t prevent every leak, but you can stop a vast majority of potential ones before they even start. Many leaks originate from the roof. Hire a roofing contractor to come out to your property for an annual inspection and to check for any leaks. Keep the property’s water heater in good condition by draining and flushing it at least once-per-year. If you or your renter notice water pooling around the bottom of the water heater, don’t hesitate to bring in a plumber. Replacing a water heater costs little compared to cleaning up the damage from a burst tank.

Preventative maintenance is key

If you want to defuse potentially expensive and stressful situations ahead of time, you need to invest in preventative maintenance for your rental property. By having professionals out for regular inspections, tune-ups, and upkeep, you can ensure that things keep running and working as they should.

Schedule HVAC tune-ups

Consider your property’s air conditioner. It’s essential to your tenant’s indoor comfort in the summer. If it stops working, your renter is going to be upset—and justifiably so. A spring tune-up from a local HVAC professional ensures that it’s ready for the hot weather ahead, significantly reducing the risk of a breakdown. As a bonus, annual HVAC maintenance also can extend the life of the system, reducing your property’s long-term overhead.

Be prepared to act quickly

No matter how vigilant or proactive you are, there will be emergencies with your property that you just can’t predict or prevent. You can, however, be prepared and react quickly to limit the impact on your property and your renter. We recommend you have several trusted professionals—including a plumber, electrician, and HVAC contractor—on speed dial, so you know who to call when something’s wrong in your rental property. Vet out companies and contractors in advance, and take note of whether or not they offer emergency service when it comes to a burst pipe or an AC breakdown in the summer, every hour matters.

Start your journey to better protecting your rental property with this helpful infographic.

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