Hiring a Handyman: A Complete Guide for First Timers

Hiring A Handyman

Hiring A Handyman

You’re a responsible enough homeowner to know that you’ve got to hire someone to help you fix some things here and there — because you just couldn’t do it yourself. Regardless if you are looking for a handyman in Charleston SC or one in Brooklyn NY, you need experienced hands when it comes to getting certain job’s done right.

Simply ask yourself this simple question: you do not want an amateur mechanic working on your car, would you? Although several tasks that need you to engage a handyman may seem simple enough, it can be a costly and time-consuming mistake to do those tasks incorrectly or not thoroughly enough, and your home is your single most important financial investment. In the long run, hiring a handyman will save you some money and time, and the best part is that it’s not usually a huge cost.

So, it’s time to hire a handyman. Where do you go or start?

List Your Problems Around the Home

The easiest way to make good use of a handyman is to arrange your tasks into a list. A lot of handymen charge for the job or the hour, so if you combine a bunch of tasks into a single day, you can often get a good deal. A handyman will most of the time come and fix so many different items in your house; you pay for materials, and by the hour, so it’s worth trying to combine those tasks into a single block of time.

Beware of haggling though, even though we live in a time where everybody always wants to get the best deal.

“If someone is good, don’t start negotiating — because he’s in these very high demand, he can go elsewhere and get that same price,” says Charlotte-based real estate agent Kim Trouten, who has helped clients buy and sell more than 500 properties.

“I think one good thing to say when you have several things on a list is, ‘Do you have any flexibility?

Instead of three or four smaller jobs in different homes, it is advantageous for a handyman to take on a full-day work in one home. If you can keep someone busy all day long, this works well for both you and your handyman. Try to save as much work as possible to make the visit attractive to the person you end up hiring.

Handyman vs General Contractor

Try to ensure you need help with the tasks that require a handyman rather than a contractor. A contractor is licensed, and they usually specialize in specific work that requires heavy equipment, such as plumbing, electrical, etc.. If the job is complex and challenging, it takes a long time and demands specialization, instead of a handyman, you probably need a contractor.

A handyman’s scope is broader; most have formal training and a specialty field, while others are self-trained, and their abilities range widely of home-improvement tasks.  Some handymen specialize in various forms of home repairs, such as tiling, carpentry, or painting. And while most states don’t require a license from a handyman, some require that handymen must register and carry insurance.

One of the advantages of hiring a handyman over a contractor is that if you hire a handyman, you are less likely to get overcharged. Contractors have to hire workers, and their estimated timeline for a job can be offset if they overstretch or underestimate the amount of work required for your job. Terms are much more comfortable with a handyman; you just have to pay for the hours he works, or a flat rate if that’s your agreement. Handymen need not to hire laborer’s, so they can maintain their rates below contractors.

Another aspect to consider is materials. They are supplying materials when you hire a contractor but usually at a markup. When you choose to use different materials, the repair is often not guaranteed by a contractor, and your choices are limited to what the contractor is carrying. You can stay within your budget by supplying your own materials because you can see exactly what the product costs, choose the finish, the warranty and so on.

Do some homework to see if you need a contractor to do your job before hiring a handyman. A handyman can do more straightforward assignments, such as:

  • Installing shelves in cabinets: If you need to attach additional shelving to your kitchen cabinets, those can be easily installed by a handyman.
  • Hanging pictures or curtains: Yes, you can put in window treatment hardware and hang pictures in your home by yourself, but hiring a handyman can guarantee that such jobs are carried out correctly and safely.
  • Painting: Whether it’s a full room or some scuff marks on the wall or just a touch-up job, a handyman is probably the best option. However, if you need a whole house painting, a better option could be to hire a painting crew.
  • Caulking: Homeowners often overlook aging caulking in a home, and fresh caulk around windows, doors, and siding is a great way to boost your home’s energy efficiency. Hire a handyman to freshen your windows and entrances, and save some dollars on your electric bill.
  • Assembly of furniture: Do you have problems with that IKEA dresser? To set it up and save yourself the hassle, hire a handyman.
  • Setting up holiday displays: Hanging lights and putting Santa and his reindeer on the roof is an excellent job for a handyman. You don’t want to end up falling in the bushes a la Clark Griswold, right?
  • Putting together a swing set or treehouse: Again, assembling takes time and energy, so engaging a handyman is a great choice to put together the bigger toys for your children.
  • Gutter cleaning: The gutters need to be cleaned from twice a year to monthly, depending on where you live. It’s not a huge task, but getting onto the roof is always dangerous to your life. Hire an experienced and equipped handyman, and save yourself the stress.
  • Minor woodwork: Was your porch or deck loose? For a handyman, this is an ideal work.

Save the more significant projects, such as remodeling, drywall installation, and extensive electrical or plumbing work for a contractor.

Searching for The Right Handyman In Your Area

So, where are you going to hire a handyman? The internet is a fantastic resource, with sites like HomeAdvisor and Angie’s List providing their vendors with reviews, licensing verification, and background checks. If you’re more likely to use an app on your phone, TaskRabbit and Handy are great resources.

“Go through the app always, so that there’s a record for your safety,” touting advise. “You never just want to take a phone number and communicate with a stranger outside the app, particularly when you are using someone for the first time.”

Your neighbors are also a perfect place for recommendations before hiring a handyman. Sites like NextDoor and Facebook groups in your local neighborhood can connect you with your neighbors, and people are usually happy to refer their handyman when they have found a good one. And if you live in a smaller community, asking your neighbors, friends, or your local hardware store to find an excellent person to hire is also a simple but effective way.

Real estate agents could be a great resource to find and hire a handyman, too. They often keep lists of the contractors and handymen with whom they work, and they remain on top of who does excellent work. “I have my trades, which are my go-to when I do repairs, or my client needs a service,” Trouten says. “Even after closing hours, customers know that they can call me if they need someone to clean their home or need someone to do a repair.  I’ll always find somebody to locate them.

Do Your Homework With Some Research

When you’ve already found the handyman you would like to hire, make sure you do some background research. Search for their website and profiles on social media. See if you can figure any public reviews on Google or anywhere else for them, and always ask for references from previous work that they have done. If anyone is offline from the internet or is unable to send you any references, it may be a red flag.

Asking the Right Questions

This may seem obvious but ask some questions before hiring a handyman to get some parameters for your job. How much are they charging? Do they have any specialized areas? Are there of course, things that they don’t do? How far are they booked forward, or how are they available? How long does work similar to yours usually take them to complete?

These are just a few examples, but before you start making calls, prepare a list of questions based on your specific task.

Take the Plunge – Test Someone Out

Sometimes just doing a test run is the best way to get a read on someone. Test a new handyman with a shortlist of two or three less critical items, such as touch-up painting or assembly of furniture, before trusting them with big-ticket stuff. If they’re doing a great job, great! Now you can get them moved on to bigger, more critical tasks.

Remember, you can always hire one of your alternates or find someone else if you are testing someone out as your handyman-of-choice, and you don’t like the work. This is not a marriage; if it does not work out, you can start over again.