HANDY LIST FOR HIRING A HANDYMAN – 12 STEP PROGRAM
1 Ask everyone you know for referrals.
Use recommended pros you ask your friends on Facebook. Also, hook up with Nextdoor.com, neighborhood websites, email lists and referral websites. Employees and owners of independent local hardware stores are excellent resources.
2 Test your new handyperson out on smaller projects first.
It’s a great idea to start small. It can be a test as to whether the worker shows up on time, does the job well and cleans up after him/herself. Once that test is passed, you can move on to bigger jobs.
3 Be precise about what you want done.
Contractors aren’t mind readers. If you tell a worker to paint your kitchen cabinets, for example, before the job starts you will want to discuss the type of paint, number of coats, whether you want the hinges painted and any other important details. The contractor could pass judgement on what they think is best, and they’re usually not the best judge.
4 Don’t hire a handyman to do skilled work.
A handyman may be able to change a faucet, but you don’t want him doing a major plumbing job. “Water is a homeowner’s worst enemy,” Hicks says. Electrical work and heating and air conditioning work also require more specialized skills. Make sure you’re hiring the right person for the job.
5 Make sure the professional has done your type of job before.
The handyman may be great at painting and installing trim molding, but if he’s never laid patio bricks or installed a garage door opener, he may not know how. Before you hire, ask about his experience. You don’t want a handyman using your house as a test project.
6 Check references and read online reviews.
Ask for references of former clients, and take the time to call those references. Online reviews are useful, but they often don’t tell the whole story and often don’t include contact info.
7 Know what requires a permit.
Many types of repair and remodeling jobs require a permit from the city or county. A licensed handyperson can pull a permit for you, but you are the one responsible if none-permitted work is done. Do your homework so you’re not in violation of the law.
8 Ask about licensing and insurance.
Licensing rules for handy work vary by municipality. In some cities, most seasoned handymen and handywomen will be licensed, and in other cities they may not be. Ask for a copy of the license and then contact the local or state agency that issues the licenses to verify it is still valid.
9 Beware of door-to-door servicers who offer to do home repair jobs.
Good handymen generally don’t need to solicit door-to-door. Posing as legitimate home repair workers is a common ruse for thieves. Beware of handyman who ask you to get building permits, want payment in cash or pressure you make a quick decision. Take your time.
10 Never pay for work up front – and keep outside or extra payments separate from the contracted agreement.
A handyperson usually doesn’t ask for a down payment before the work starts. Be leery of anyone who asks for a substantial payment (above 10 percent of the job’s cost) in advance of work. If your project calls for expensive materials, suggest you pay the supplier directly.
11 Get estimates in writing.
Many handymen aren’t skilled writers…you can and should draft the contract or job list yourself, with details and prices, and have him sign it if he doesn’t want to offer a written estimate. The estimate can also be used as the contractual agreement.
12 Don’t just pick the lowest bid.
As much as you can, resist your frugal impulses when searching for the best handyperson. The cheapest is not always the best, in fact, they’re usually not.