Whether you work for yourself as a preserve and protect (P&P) property preservation contractor or as part of a team for REO (Real Estate Owned) preservation company, it's likely and even probable that you'll face one or more of these common challenges.
Lack of Job Site Information
Preservation contractors suffer from a dearth of information. You're not likely to know much about a job site except what you find out with your own inspection. Property owners and REO realtors can be tight-lipped about the history of a property or might not know themselves. Local officials, including the property office, public records office or even police and zoning officials might be loath to give information about a property you're charged with preserving, especially regarding the details of previous owners. Any clues that might give you a heads-up on how best to restore and protect a property are up to you to discover through research.
Finding Decent Insurance
Because preservation contractors are often Jacks or Jacquelines of all trades doing a variety of contracting work, it can be tough to find the proper insurance to work in the field. Whereas specialized contractors have clear-cut guidelines for obtaining bonding or insurance – even traditional general contractors have access to a wealth of companies catering to their needs – most insurance companies don't know how to deal with preservationists.
It’s vital to carry general liability insurance in case of injury or damage, but some jurisdictions also require you to carry Error and Omission Insurance (E&O) in case your work fails to cover a client's needs or requests. Compounding this difficulty, the type and amount of insurance you're required to carry varies from state to state.
Hiring Quality Help
If you're heading up your own P&P crew, you may have trouble finding quality help. Subcontractors used to having free reign to do whatever needs to be done may find the constraints presented by preservation work too great. As with other contracting areas, it's also tough to find a specialized subcontractor competent enough to do the job properly or who can pass an adequate background check to work on your property. Vet your team carefully and check their credentials to ensure you're hiring the best help possible.
Selling Your Services
If you're looking to break into an REO preservation team, you'll probably start off searching for established companies to work for. Some of these companies may carry bad reputations for treating their workers unfairly, expecting too much or not paying on time.
If you're looking to get into direct P&P work, be prepared to have trouble selling yourself to banks and realtors. Most realtors work with the same team of people for years, maybe even decades. You'll have to pitch your services over and over to a variety of clients before finding even one who will work with you: it's a numbers game. Network with other local contractors to find the best leads.
Preservation contractors can face many difficulties, both on the manual labor side of the job and on the business administrative side. You're not only performing the tasks of many other contractors at once, but you're also operating your own business and performing all administrative tasks. Don't be afraid to ask for help from your networking contacts, local businesses, governing agencies and regulatory boards.