The maintenance cycle of a property never ends. Something always needs repairing or maintaining, and repairs always seem to cost more than one might anticipate; especially if it is being done right. When working with owners, we usually try to give an estimate of what a repair will cost, but we have to add the caveat that we can’t always predict what we will encounter. It might sound like a gimmick meant to leave the door open to price gouging but especially with long-time rental properties, we can’t always predict what we will discover.
Most recently, we were called by a tenant who reported that a bathroom fan was not working as it should. That can mean any number of things, so we gave the owner some scenarios and set out to troubleshoot the problem. What we discovered was something we never could have anticipated. The bathroom fan was a homemade contraption that consisted of a fan (that didn’t appear to be meant for bathrooms) which was wired to a tin bucket with the bottom cut out so it functioned like a funnel for the exhausted air, which was wired to a jagged pipe, which was venting the air into the attic…and had almost been completely buried by blow-in insulation.
Our discovery was amusing, but it was an expense that the property owner hardly anticipated. Besides the cost of a new fan and installation, the ceiling hole had to be correctly sized for a modern fan, and venting needed to be installed to properly move the damp air outside and not just port it to the attic.
This situation is a great example of a lot of things: why building codes exist, why thorough inspections of properties can be valuable, why choosing the inexpensive or unlicensed option is not always the right option, and most importantly – why healthy budgeting for unanticipated repairs is prudent.