10 things you need to know before hiring a local handyman

Before hiring a local handyman there are several things you need to consider.

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Sometimes you just don't have the time to get all your home repairs complete. Or perhaps you have home repair projects that are outside of your do-it-yourself realm. From tasks like gutter cleaning to home repairs like building a deck, hiring a handyman can save you a lot of time, frustration and money. But finding the right handyman is essential.

Here are 10 things you should consider before hiring a local handyman to trust with your home and your hard-earned money.

Decide on what home repairs you need before hiring a handyman for the work.

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1. Know exactly what you want

It's great to have an idea of what home repairs or maintenance projects you want to tackle, but you can't expect someone else to share your vision.

It's essential to know exactly what work you need completed before hiring a handyman near you. If you have many small home repairs, make a detailed list of what needs to be repaired or replaced and where it is.

If you're hiring a handyman near you for a building project, be specific with exactly what you want before you start planning. By knowing exactly what you want, your handyman can give you a better estimate of material cost and time it will take to complete the project.

By adding more small home repair projects after you've hired someone, you'll not only frustrate your handyman, your cost and time for completion could spiral beyond what you were expecting.

2. Find a reliable, local handyman

Finding the right local handyman for your home repair project is essential. You need to know you're hiring a professional, responsible and reliable handyman to trust with your home. The best recommendation we have is to ask your friends and neighbors if they've used a handyman near you. Word of mouth is the best reference for any handyman service, so having someone you trust offer their recommendation is a good start.

If you don't know anyone who's hired a handyman near you try going to your local hardware store or checking community message boards. Quite often, handymen will put business cards in these locations or someone at the hardware store can give you a few suggestions a handyman near you.

Checking online for a handyman service and customer reviews is also essential.

When hiring a local handyman or handyman service there are many things you should watch out for.

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3. Know what to watch out for

Be wary of a handyman service that don't seem to be on the up-and-up. Know what to look for and when to be concerned when it comes to a handyman near you. The more informed you are, the less likely you are to end up with a local handyman who may not provide the services you're paying for.

Here are some of the things that should raise concerns with a local handyman service:

  • Watch out for anyone soliciting door to door

    While this could be a simple case of a new handyman letting neighbors know they are in business, less reputable handymen will go door-to-door, soliciting customers through work they claim to notice needs done on your home, even if it doesn't.
  • Doesn't have a business number listed

    Any reputable handyman will have a professional business number listed and available. If there is no available phone number, website or business name, be very cautious.
  • Asks you to pay up-front for the home repair project or only accepts cash

    Never, ever, pay for work in advance. Even if you are offered a discount, do not pay until the home repair project is complete and you are happy with the work. If someone wants the cash up front, or refuses to take any other form of payment, think twice before hiring.
  • Offers significantly reduced pricing and exceptionally long work guarantees

    Any handyman service companies should estimate home repair projects within the same ballpark of each other. If one handyman quotes you far less than the others, there's a good reason for that. Always remember the old saying: You get what you pay for.

    If a handyman offers you an exceptionally long guarantee like 10 or 15 years, this should also be a concern. Most guarantees will be within 1-3 years.

4. Know what questions to ask

If you've never had to worry about hiring a handyman before, you probably don't know the right questions to ask when interviewing one. You want to ensure you're hiring a handyman who is reputable, established, insured and trustworthy.

Here are some questions to ask before hiring a handyman near you:

  • How long have you been in business?

    This is important to know if a handyman service is established with a good customer base.
  • Are you insured?

    Any reputable handyman will be insured, to cover your home from any potential damages, and to protect the handyman in case of injury. Some states will require licensing, so if yours does be sure you're hiring a licensed professional.
  • What types of work do you usually complete?

    Not all projects are the same and you need to ensure the handyman is capable and qualified to complete your home repair project. Some may be great at small repairs but not building projects, like the front desk you want.
  • Does my home repair project require a permit?

    Even a simple job like building a deck requires a building permit, and permits need to be acquired before beginning the work.

If your home needs specialized repairs that require electric or plumbing work be sure to ask if your local handyman is licensed in the trade.

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5. Not all handymen are plumbers, carpenters or electricians

It's important to understand the scope of your home repairs. Does installing your new toilet require any plumbing work? Does your new ceiling fan require rewiring?

Many handymen are skilled in basic home repairs, but they aren't licensed plumbers, carpenters or electricians.

Where a handyman may be suitable for small plumbing and carpentry jobs, larger jobs like remodeling should be contracted to a licensed tradesman. This is especially important when dealing with electrical work.

If the handyman says he can complete your home repair project but they aren't licensed, use your discretion. If you feel the job requires too much work, go with your gut and hire a licensed tradesman.

6. Set a budget and get an estimate in writing

You should have a firm idea of what your budget is before hiring any local handyman service. Be prepared with a little buffer for any unseen incidentals, but you should be confident that your handyman will stay within the agreed upon budget.

Discuss with your handyman how they want to get paid. While most handymen are paid hourly, some may quote you a price for the full job. Get the estimate on the hours required to complete the home repairs and get a written estimate on the cost up front.

When hiring a handyman for your home repair project be sure to have a clear schedule on completion.

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7. Establish a schedule

Your home repairs may include several projects. Your handyman should have a clear schedule on when each project will be started and completed.

If the home repair project requires a few days to complete, your handyman should give you a schedule for what he will be working on and when, so your home isn't in disrepair for longer than expected.

8. Ask for references and check them

Always be sure to get references before hiring a handyman and follow up on them. Happy customers will tell you a lot about the local handyman you're considering. Unhappy customers will always let you know if there are red flags to watch out for.

If you are hiring a handyman to build a new deck for instance, ask for references from people who he has built decks for in the past. If the reference is willing to let you come see the final product, it's worth looking at.

Ask how recent the references are. If the handyman only gives references that are several years old, this should be cause for concern.

Be sure to have a written contract with your local handyman that includes all fees and supplies required.

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9. Get a clear, written contract

Do not take a verbal estimate on cost, schedule of completion or work agreement. Ensure you're getting a full and clear written contract that specifies the fees to be paid, the schedule of completion and outlines the work you're hiring for.

The contract should include a detailed list of supplies the handyman service needs to purchase for your project and their detailed fees. Ensure there are no “hidden” fees and everything is clear before signing off on the contract.

10. Is the work guaranteed?

A typical handyman service will offer a work guarantee. Be sure to ask how long they guarantee their work for, and how they intend to fix any issues if they do arise.

As mentioned earlier, a typical guarantee may be 1-3 years depending on the home repair project. Ask how quickly you can expect the handyman to return if you do need to call on him to repair something.

Be very wary of any handyman who doesn't offer a guarantee on his work. When the project is complete, do a walk-through with the handyman to ensure all repairs were completed to your satisfaction. If you notice issues right away, be sure to bring them up before signing off on the project.