DIY Maintenance in Mexico, landlords, tenants and homeowners

If you own your own home, you may have the skills to do basic maintenance and be well-versed enough to have yourself already set up with a reliable maintenance guy. If not, you will, at some point, need one. Things like electric and water are different here than in other parts of the world so it is (in my opinion) imperative to hire a local Mexican maintenance worker.

They are the ones who grew up with this system and will best understand it. When you are hiring a maintenance man, understand maintenance guys are never in a hurry to do maintenance. Be prepared to wait up to a week even if they say they will come tomorrow. No-shows are very common (welcome to Mexico).

Renters and Landlords

Landlords will rarely (okay, never) do maintenance on your rental unit. You need to learn to either hire it out or do it yourself. That also means paying for it yourself. Luckily things here are not expensive, so it’s doable, even when on a budget.

If you are a renter, you will definitely need the skills to do basic maintenance on your home (apartment or house). If you’re living like a local (not paying US dollars to live in a Mexican neighborhood), then you likely don’t have a property manager. You will know by the cost of your rent.

Most administrators are useless

On two occasions I’ve had “administrators” that came with my rental homes. These guys are the ones to turn to in the event of a problem. Their job is to solve it. Both times I fired them and stopped paying the inflated rent (which at the time was 400 peso and 500 peso per month, respectively) that they “earned” to be there in my time of need. I fired them because they were snail slow and incredibly inefficient.

This goes back to maintenance guys never being in a hurry and having to often wait a week or more to solve a 30-minute problem. Honestly, I couldn’t be bothered.

Learn basic Mexican house maintenance

As a single woman, learning basic maintenance was one of the first things I did when I became established in Mexico and learned first-hand how truly inefficient assigned help can be. To save myself from earning more grey hair, I learned how to change gas tanks, replace gas lines to tanks and the boiler and deal with gas leaks.

I learned how to seal leaky windows, dig my own phone line trench (you have to do that here for new lines), insulate wires running into my home, replace torn (sun burned) door and window screens, seal concrete cracks, replace electric switch plates and shop for and replace water lines for both sinks and toilets. I even learned how to seal the base of a leaking toilet.

I learned these things because they are very easy, inexpensive fixes and common problems that continually occur. You will need to tend to all of these things (listed) an average of once per year, but more depending on weather.

Let’s face it, in times of emergencies — a window only leaks when it’s raining, for example — there isn’t always time for the manana…which could be literal (tomorrow) or mean “after it’s done raining” (in a week or so).

Well, after it’s done raining, technically your problem is solved, no?

For survival and good mental health, I highly suggest you suck it up and just learn self maintenance regardless if you’re male or female, owner or renter. As a matter of fact, if you’re a renter, I suggest you definitely learn these things because when there’s a problem, not only do you have to go through your landlord, he then has to hire someone to fix your problem…considering he’s interested in doing so (they never are). It is super-rare that landlords have these basic skills themselves.

My last guy was a terrific referral from one of my neighbors. I got lucky, but I’ve had some frustrating experiences in the past, which again, prompted me to learn basic home maintenance for myself. I once had a guy come to my home (from an administrator) at my request to change a leaking water line under the sink. Total cost should have been 29 peso plus his time (about 50 peso for the line change).

The administrator showed up with a burly man carrying an extremely large plumber’s wrench who completely bypassed my kitchen sink, went outside to faucets and claimed I needed a bomba (a pump). I was so mad, I kicked them out and just changed the line myself. That was when I got rid of administrator #2.

Another time I had a guy arrive to help with a heating electrical light switch issue. After humming and hawing, his conclusion was an expensive rewire job — of my entire house! I knew better. I brought in another guy. Total cost 49 peso for the new plate plus 50 peso for his time.

Learning these basic skills, as well as how to hire maintenance help in Mexico, has saved me a load of money and a great deal of stress. I am positive it will do the same for you too!