You’re a responsible enough homeowner to know that you need to hire someone to help you fix some things here and there — because you can’t do it yourself.
Why not? Ask yourself this: you wouldn’t want an amateur mechanic working on your car, right? Although a lot of tasks that require you to hire a handyman might seem easy enough, doing those tasks incorrectly or not thoroughly enough can be a costly and time-consuming mistake … and your home is your single biggest financial investment. Hiring a handyman will save you both money and time in the long run, and the good news is, it’s usually not a huge expense.
So it’s time to hire your first handyman. Where do you start?
List your problems
Organizing your tasks into a list is the best way to make good use of a handyman. A lot of handymen charge by the task or by the hour, so you can often get a good deal if you bundle a bunch of tasks into one day. Most of the time, a handyman will come and fix several different items in your house; you pay for materials and by the hour, so it’s worth it to try to consolidate those tasks into a single time block.
It’s advantageous for a handyman to take on a full day’s work in one home instead of three or four smaller jobs in different homes. If you can keep someone busy for the whole day, that works out well for both you and your handyman. Try to save up as much work as you can to make the visit enticing to the person you end up hiring.
Handyman vs. contractor
Make sure the tasks that you need help with require a handyman instead of a contractor. A contractor is licensed, and they usually specialize in specific jobs, such as plumbing, electrical, or jobs that require heavy equipment. If the job is complicated, takes a long time, and requires specialization, you probably need a contractor instead of a handyman.
The scope of a handyman is broader; some have formal training and an area of specialization, while others are self-trained and their skills run the gamut of home-improvement tasks. Some handymen do specialize in different types of home maintenance, such as tiling, carpentry, or painting. And while most states don’t require a handyman to obtain a license, some require that handymen register and carry insurance.
One of the benefits of hiring a handyman versus a contractor is you’re less likely to be overcharged if you hire a handyman. Contractors have to hire laborers, and their estimated timeline for a job can be bumped out if they overextend themselves or underestimate the amount of work needed for your job. With a handyman, terms are much simpler; you only have to pay for the hours he works, or a flat rate if that’s what you’ve agreed upon. Handymen don’t have to hire laborers, so they can keep their rates lower than contractors.
Materials are another aspect to consider. When you hire a contractor, they will supply materials, but usually at a markup. If you choose to use different materials, often a contractor will not guarantee the repair, and your choices are limited to what the contractor carries. Supplying your own materials allows you to stay within your budget because you can see exactly what the product costs, choose the finish, the warranty, and so on.