Dear Maintenance Men
By Jerry L’Ecuyer
Dear Maintenance Men:
How do I go about hiring a maintenance service company? I have tried working with local building contractors, but have not been pleased with the results. They do not seem to want to take the time with such small jobs or provide service in a timely manner.
The best place to start your search for any trades people is with your local apartment association. They may also have a magazine or a published vender list. Call your association and ask for their help.
Some additional sources for finding a maintenance service person are to talk with your local hardware store, lumberyard and even the local paper. Of course talking with other owners may yield some good finds.
When interviewing a potential trades person or company have a list of what you want done and ask specifically if these tasks are within their realm of expertise. Ask upfront what they charge per hour and what is included in that pricing.
Typical information you may want to request from a potential trade person or company:
- California contractors license
- Proof of workman’s comp insurance
- Proof of liability insurance
- Reference list with phone numbers
- Address of several recent jobs
- List of trade associations to which they belong
A legitimate trades person or company would not be afraid to show you any of the above information. The apartment industry is a small world and we all live or die on our reputations. So ask as many questions you like, and if you don’t like the answers, use a different vendor.
Dear Maintenance Men:
I want to hire a handyman to do some odd jobs around my apartment building. How do I choose a good handyman and what should I look for?
The best handyman is usually a referral. Ask other building owners who they use. If they are happy they will let you know.
Another thing to remember is cost; remember the Golden Rule: You Get What You Pay For. As an example: if you have a major plumbing problem, you may want to have a professional plumber with extensive knowledge, experience and tools to do the job, on the other hand, you may only need a faucet replaced or toilet flapper valve adjusted. A handyman is perfect for the job and much less expensive than the plumber.
In hiring a handyman, know what you want done. Ask the handyman specifically if he can do the job and whether he has preformed this task before. The more knowledgeable you are about the work you need completed the greater the chance you will hire a good handyman. Have a punch list ready and ask direct questions about his or her ability. Ask about references; be sure to get names, phone numbers and addresses and then check them out. Ask about his or her specialties and what they do best.
It is very important to know upfront what the handyman charges for his work. For small jobs, many handymen charge by the hour and bigger jobs are usually quoted. When comparing handymen, the differences in hourly rate may be an indication of his experience, how popular he is and his overhead costs. More often than not, the hourly rate may have little to do with the skill of the handyman and more to do with what the market will bear. Be sure to discuss how change-orders, mistakes, callbacks and job over runs are handled.
If the handyman is to be left alone in occupied units, be sure to do a criminal background check. Call the Apartment Association about the different checks available.
Depending on the sophistication of your handyman, he may or may not have any liability insurance. Check with your insurance company before hiring anyone … and remember the Golden Rule…
By the way, anyone know a good handyman … !!!
About the Author:
Jerry L’Ecuyer is the owner of JLE Property Management, Inc. & Buffalo Maintenance, Inc. and is a licensed contractor & real estate broker. He is currently on the Board of Directors, Chairman of the Education Committee & President of the Apartment Association of Orange County. Jerry has been involved with apartments as a professional since 1988 and can be reached at (714) 778-0480 or jerry@JLE1.com.