Every home will need a little maintenance from time to time. Sometimes you can do the work yourself. But sometimes it seems the work may be a little (or a lot) more than you can handle. When that happens, it’s natural to call a handyman. We like to think of a handyman as a friendly neighborhood helper who knows how to fix all the little annoyances in your home. A dash of paint here, a little electrical there, some minor carpentry over there. Sometimes, that image is pretty close to the truth. Many handymen (and, we should add, women) rely on word of mouth and referrals for most of their business. Unfortunately, however, contractors are one of the most complained about businesses out there, just after auto services. Here at TrustDALE, we’ve seen our share of shady contractors. So here are 9 questions to ask before you hire a handyman.
1. What type of work can you do?
You may have a long list of repairs, but you need to make sure your handyman can handle it. While many handymen claim to be a jack-of-all-trades, they may not specialize in the sort of work you need. Just like you wouldn’t rely on your general practitioner to perform surgery, you may not want to rely on a handyman for work specific to a trade. Some minor electrical or plumbing work, like fixing a light fixture or unclogging a drain, may be within the purview of a handyman. But more extensive work should be given to a tradesperson. If your electrical work is done incorrectly, you could risk serious consequences, including danger to your property and even the people in your home. The same is true for plumbing. So while it may be ok to hire a non-specialist to straighten a jammed door, think twice before handing off specialized labor to a handyman.
2. Do you have local references?
Most handymen rely heavily on word of mouth and customer referrals. If a handyman is experienced and does good work, he or she should be able to provide you with local references. As with any other service, as for three to five customer references and call at least two of them at random. You can also check online reviews. Not all handymen are listed on the Better Business Bureau, but you might want to check just in case. If they’re not listed, it doesn’t mean they’re not reliable. But if they are listed and have bad reviews, you would want to know that before hiring them.
Of course, a great way to find reliable services besides relying on local reviews is to use TrustDALE.com. Just enter your zip code and search for the service you need. All of our listed businesses have undergone Dales 7-point investigative review. You can trust that they are top-notch businesses who are also backed up by Dale’s Make-it-Right Guarantee™.
3. Are you licensed, bonded, and insured?
It may seem like you don’t really need to worry about these details for the sort of small jobs most handymen work on. But if someone working on your home is injured, you could be in for some major expenses. If a worker doesn’t have their own liability insurance, you are fully liable for any injuries on the job. If the handyman does any damage to your property, you also want to be sure that they have the insurance to cover it. Finally, many state and local governments license handymen or the various trades they may specialize in. Hiring a licensed professional guarantees at least a strong knowledge of how to do their work. When you hire a licensed, bonded, and insured handyman you are keeping yourself safe. Hiring handyman who is lacking those qualifications is a major risk.
4. How much will this cost for both labor and materials?
An experienced handyman should be able to give you a cost estimate before starting the job. Typically, the final cost should be within 10% of the estimate. Make sure that you have a written estimate ahead of time and that the handyman knows the 10% rule. Having a set cap to how much you will pay protects you from price gouging.
5. How do you price your work?
Some handymen charge by the hour. Others base their pricing on a per-project basis. You should know how they charge going in, so you know if you are being charged a fair amount. Having this information in addition to a price quote will also help you to compare estimates from multiple handymen.
6. When will the work be done?
Your handyman might be busy and so are you. Make sure that you know when the work will start and when it will be done. If it’s a small job, it may take just an hour or two. If it’s a bigger job, the work may take place over two days or even longer. Knowing how long the job will take protects you from a handyman who drags out a job or starts it and then never shows up to finish it. You would like to think this doesn’t happen, but here at TrustDALE, we see it too often. A simple question and then an answer in writing in your contract can save you lots of trouble.
7. Do you have a written contract?
Sometimes we like to think of a handyman as a friendly neighbor who is extra handy around the house. But this is a business transaction, and everyone needs to be clear on the parameters of the work being done. A good written contract should include a full description of the work that will be done, when it will be done, how much you will pay, and how payment will be made. The contract protects both you and the handyman should anyone fail to meet its requirements. For instance, if the handyman doesn’t hold up their end of the deal, a written contract can serve as the basis of a legal claim in court.
8. Do you provide a guarantee?
It’s great to be able to rely on a handyman for all of your projects. Bringing in an experienced contractor who can fix what’s broken and make the improvements you want can be a great relief. But what happens if something about their work doesn’t hold up? If they fix a clogged sink and it backs up again, will they come back and fix it? If they install a lighting fixture and it breaks or shorts out, will they replace it? Knowing ahead of time if and to what extent your handyman guarantees his or her work is crucial. Waiting until something fails to ask about a guarantee is a recipe for trouble. A guarantee should be included in the written contract.
9. Will you be working alone or will you have help?
Some jobs are simple one-person projects. It doesn’t take more than one person to repair a drafty window or loose railing. But for a larger job, your handyman may need help. This is often the case for small to medium-sized renovations. If you are building a fence, painting a room, or replacing parts of a kitchen, don’t be surprised if your handyman calls in an assistant. You’ll benefit from the extra worker because the job will be done better and faster. But it also may affect price, so you want to know ahead of time. Also, you should always know who and how many people will be in your home.
Finding a Reliable Handyman
There is never a reason to work with an unreliable handyman. We’ve seen plenty of customers get burned by dishonest and unskilled contractors. In our experience, contractors and handymen should always come with excellent references and a proven history of customer satisfaction. Of course, doing all the research yourself can be time-consuming. That’s why it pays to let Dale do the work for you.
At TrustDALE.com we have certified a number of local handymen who can handle all of your small to mid-sized jobs. These businesses offer the best in quality workmanship, customer service, and competitive pricing. They are also all backed by Dale’s Make-it-Right Guarantee™. So don’t get burned. Turn to TrustDALE for all your home service needs.