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How To Hire A Handyman

There are those times when even the most capable DIY enthusiast can use a helping hand. Then there are people like yours truly, who shouldn’t be trusted with power tools, and who hammers nails like lightning (in other words, I never strike twice in the same place!). That’s when you need to bring in a handyman.

A handyman can lighten the workload at home, provided they're reliable.
A handyman can lighten the workload at home, provided they’re reliable.

Now, if you know someone who either does the work or knows someone who does (“I know somebody who knows somebody”) and their reputation is solid; then you’re in luck. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case, and more often than not, you find yourself lost in the vast wilderness of handymen, unsure of which way to turn. Who’s reliable? Who’s a rip-off artist?

Here are some ways you can pick a good, solid handyman.

Do A Little Research
Check with agencies like the Better Business Bureau, go on Yelp, or do a search on Angie’s List to get a list of viable candidates and see how their reputations look. Though these methods aren’t perfect, they make an excellent first line of defense in weeding out the crooks.

Make Up A List And Set A Budget
Now that you have a contractor chosen, time to sit down and spell out what you want to be done. Do you have some projects you need to be done, or is it just a single big job? This list is important because it quantifies the expectations you’ll have of your handyman.

Listing out your expectations also helps when it comes to setting a realistic budget. The article “Seniors: Follow These Tips When Hiring a Handyman” points out that this is important, because while an independent contractor may be flexible and willing to negotiate with you, a handyman who works for a more professional company may have set rates. A lack of flexibility means that you may have to possibly temper your list of expectations somewhat.

Get References
If your prospective handyman doesn’t have an online presence of any consequence, you should get references from satisfied customers. Furthermore, make sure that the references are local and recent.

Get An Estimate
You have expectations based on your budget. Since there may be some give and take here, make sure you get an estimate for the work. That way, you have an idea of what the prospective handyman will do, and how much you’ll be charged for it. The estimate should cover labor and materials, and should have a 10 percent margin for error, plus or minus, of the actual cost.

Additionally, the estimate should cover the expected time needed to do the work.

Make Sure The Handyman Is Licensed And Insured
The last thing you want is to have someone doing work on your property, only to get hurt in the process. There’s also the chance of the handyman accidentally damaging your home while doing the contracted job. A reputable contractor has a license and insurance.

The level of handyman professionalism should increase in proportion to the difficulty and expense of the project. Because when you think of it, a handyman could be just about anyone; there’s no actual “handyman” occupation, with their own union, licensing, and oversight agency. That handyman could be anyone from the kid down the street who’s good at light carpentry, to a contractor who specializes in window replacement.

Do your research, communicate clearly and often, and there will be fewer surprises and more successes when you see the final result.

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