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How to Pick a Handyman

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We all like to do what we can to keep our homes in the best shape possible. But sometimes, the little chores and fixes can start to pile up. It may seem like it would take you months or years to check every item off your list. Or you may simply be out of your league. Even the handiest of homeowners will sometimes have to admit that they don’t have the time, tools, or experience to do a job properly. Whether you are fixing leaky faucets and loose railings or completely remodeling a bathroom, some jobs just cry out for a handyman. 

Often, general contractors don’t want to take a job unless it meets a certain price threshold. It just doesn’t make sense for a general contractor with a large company to get involved in odd jobs. And that’s where the handyman comes in. A handyman is your go-to professional for all the little things. But how do you find a handyman? And how do you know that one you pick will be honest, reliable, skilled, and provide a competitive price?

Here at TrustDALE, we offer some certified handyman companies that have passed Dale’s detailed 7-point inspection, so you know you can trust them. But just in case you want to look for yourself, here are our handy tips on how to pick a handyman!

How to Pick a Handyman [infographic]

Working With Large Handyman Companies

Generally speaking, there are two ways to find a handyman. The first is to go through a large handyman company. There are well-known and established companies that act as an umbrella for a large number of handymen. They may offer handymen with specific specialties, such as plumbers, electricians, and carpenters. They also take some responsibility for vetting and verifying their handymen, which takes out some of the guesswork on your end. Make sure that the company you are working with guarantees the quality of their workers.

One downside of these large companies is that you never know exactly who will be doing the work. While the company may make some guarantees, you may not have the opportunity to interview the actual tradesman before they show up to do the work. Make sure that anyone they send out has the proper ID with a photo on it.

Whether you are working with a large company or a one-person show, you should always get a free quote before any work begins. Try to get several quotes to make sure you are getting a competitive price. But avoid going for the lowest bid. If one company is undercutting the rest, they may be cutting corners on your job. Also, beware of big promises. If a handyman promises to do a job more quickly than everyone else, or claims that a complicated job will be very simple, don’t be fooled. Big promises are often a sign that your contractor doesn’t really know what goes into a job, or they just aren’t being honest.

Working With a Small or One-Man Business

If you aren’t satisfied with the big umbrella companies, your other option is to hire a small-time handyman. Some handymen do all the work themselves or may be part of a small group. There is nothing wrong with that, so long as you can verify their qualifications. Even if you are dealing with a one-person company, make sure you get all of the appropriate paperwork. Ask to see proof of insurance and any licensing that may be required. Also, make sure you get any quotes in writing. If you don’t have a paper trail, there is no way to protect yourself from overcharging or underperforming.

One of the best ways to find a small-time handyman is to ask your family, friends, and neighbors for personal referrals. Ask about people they have personally used whose work they liked. You know these people and can trust that their reviews are accurate and honest.

If you can’t get a good referral from your friends, you can broaden your search to include local chat boards or neighborhood networks. We’ve come a long way from the apartment lobby bulletin board. Today, there are many services that work as local, private social networks that only include your neighborhood. Alternatively, many neighborhoods and associations have private Facebook groups to stay in touch. Ask people for referrals of handymen with whom they have personal experience. Once you have contacted a handyman, be sure to ask for references from past clients, too.

The last place you can look is at bulletin boards at your local hardware or home improvement store. However, there’s no direct way to verify those handymen, so be prepared to do some research. Check the Better Business Bureau for complaints, and look for reviews online.

What to Do When You Think You’ve Found a Handyman

If you’ve gotten referrals, received some quotes, and done a little research, you may have a pretty good idea of who you want to work with. But don’t dive in and start work just yet. Before you do anything, make sure you interview your prospects. Try to get a sense of whether a person is reliable and whether they take the time to listen to you and can clearly explain what they will do for you. Be as specific as possible. Also, ask for proof of insurance and licensing, as well as referrals from previous customers who paid for similar work to your own.

If you are working with a large company, you will probably make your payment through the company. If you are working with a solo handyman for a small contractor, expect to pay them directly. In either case, never make payment upfront.

There is no reason to pay anything until work has at least begun. Any worthwhile handyman should have the funds to acquire permits and materials upfront and charge the customer after work is completed. If you need to order custom materials, you may have to pay for that, but don’t make any other payments until work is underway. Never accept a request to pay half now half when the job is complete. A responsible handyman would never ask for that.

Finding a Handyman Through TrustDALE

At TrustDALE, we aim to create a community of trust in which you can rely on certified companies. We’ve investigated dozens of small-time tradespeople who don’t follow through on their promises or just disappear with a customer’s money. We don’t want to see any more consumers caught in that kind of scam. Instead, we encourage consumers to take a look at TrustDALE certified handyman services in your area. We know that you will be satisfied with the work these businesses perform.