You’ve probably heard about handymen who come to your home to fix things that you may not have the knowledge or ability to do yourself.
For the record, not all handymen are carpenters, electricians, or plumbers. Some confine their efforts to yard work, clearing brush, mowing grass, and general outdoor maintenance instead of indoor home repairs. Regardless, it shouldn’t be too difficult to find a handyman who will be able to fix your loose hinge, paint your garage, or repair your deck. Handyman qualifications and abilities are all over the map.
So, how do you line up a handyman to come and take care of such things?
It takes some due diligence on your part. After all, handymen are right behind used car salesmen in terms of customer complaints in some areas.
Most complaints filed with the Better Business Bureau of Southern Colorado were related to the auto industry, but the contractor industry came in second. Source
Here’s what you need to know, including the pitfalls and what you should expect if you hire a handyman to assist with things around the house…
Before You Hire A Home Repair Handyman…
#1 Make a list of the work you need done.
Take the time to list exactly what you want a handyman to accomplish before you contact one. Be upfront with what you expect, so the handyman can determine if your requests are within his abilities. Don’t throw in any surprises mid-way through the job.
#2 Get good reliable local references.
Nothing will ease your mind better than a glowing report from a neighbor a few blocks stating that a particular handyman was prompt, did quality work, and completely lived up to expectations. Handymen rely on word-of-mouth to build their businesses. One that’s worth hiring will easily be able to supply you with at least 3 good references.
#3 Search local resources to find reliable candidates.
Places like Craigslist, your daily newspaper, even the bulletin board at your local supermarket are all possibilities. Many handymen distribute flyers and handouts, so look for them. Check with the Better Business Bureau, and look for listings in the Yellow Pages too. A well-established professional handyman is proud to make himself known in the community.
#4 Make sure your handyman is licensed, bonded, and insured.
If someone working on your property should become injured, unless they have their own liability insurance you will be fully liable. Reputable handymen carry insurance for this purpose and to cover them if they should cause damage to your property.
#5 Request cost estimates for both labor and materials ahead of time.
Generally speaking, an estimate should be within 10% of the actual cost. Make this fact clear to potential candidates in order to prevent them giving you a low-ball offer just to get you to hire them. If they know up front that there will be no further payment beyond a specific amount, then they have the option of turning down the job (which may be better for you in the long run). If a detailed estimate requires them to go price shopping, expect to pay a fair hourly wage for their effort.
#6 Make sure you’re comfortable with how they price their work.
For example, do they expect to be paid by the hour? Or are they willing to be paid by the job? This needs to be settled before any work is started and especially before any supplies or parts are ordered.
#7 Establish a schedule for the work to be done.
Determine how soon the work will be started, when it will most likely be finished, and a timeframe as to when your handyman expects to be on the job. Once the project starts, hold him to the schedule you’ve both agreed to. Sometimes, if a handyman gets a better offer on a project down the road, they will sideline yours in order to go work for the more profitable customer.
#8 Get a contract in writing.
With a written agreement there will be no confusion, miscommunication, or forgotten details. Not only will you be clearly defining what’s expected, but in the event that your handyman doesn’t hold up his end of the bargain, you will have documented proof to take with you to court.
#9 What type of guarantee is provided?
You want a handyman that stands behind his work. Guarantees or warranties of workmanship will vary depending on the type of work that’s to be done. If it’s in writing that your handyman will take care of quality issues or workmanship failures for a specified amount of time at no charge, then your level of protection and recourse better — especially if the legal system becomes involved.
These videos from Angie’s List provide some great tips for hiring a handyman…
Remember, when hiring a contractor, a handyman, or anyone to work on your property, you usually get what you pay for. If you accept an unusually low bid, there will very likely be problems.
As long as you’re prepared to pay an honest day’s wage for an honest day’s work, you should have no problem finding a handyman who can take care of your home maintenance and repair issues in a timely and professional manner.