When you have work around the house or improvement projects you want completed, you have two choices: you can either devote all your free time and effort to working on the projects yourself, or you can hire a professional.
If you decide to hire a handyman, you’ll need to make sure you choose a competent and trustworthy one. Find out about licensing requirements in your state to ensure that you hire a handyman who complies with state laws.
Once you find a good handyman, your work is done. You can kick back and watch as the work unfolds, knowing that the process should go smoothly.
1. What Does a Handyman do?
A handyman typically has experience in a number of trades and offers a wide range of home improvement, maintenance, and repair services. This versatility often earns a handyman the reputation of a “jack of all trades” or someone who takes on “odd jobs.”
This lack of specialization does not necessarily represent a lack of skill or training, though. Many handymen have several years of experience in construction fields or carry licenses to perform plumbing, electrical, or other specialized work, but choose to offer a broader range of services and take on small and diverse jobs.
A handyman is a good choice to complete a small job or a number of unrelated tasks around the house that don’t take a lot of time on their own, such as repairing a leaky faucet, changing out a light fixture, making small carpentry repairs, and taking care of the prep work for a larger job.
Handymen also fill the gaps when there isn’t a specialized pro available for jobs like hanging a mirror, assembling furniture, and installing cabinet hardware. Many handymen take on larger jobs too, such as painting, flooring installations, deck building, and interior renovations.
2. Do I need a Handyman or a Contractor?
A handyman is the pro to choose when you have a quick project or repair to complete, or a small-scale job that requires just a single worker or a very small crew. Handymen are typically hands-on, and complete the work on their own or with a single helper, rather than subcontract the work to other providers. If you are updating a single room or have a small repair or installation project, a handyman will probably be a good fit.
Contractors, on the other hand, are usually better suited for larger jobs that require work in several trades or that call for a large crew to keep the project on schedule. Many contractors perform a lot of their work themselves, but typically have a crew to keep busy and subcontract or “sub-out” some of the work to specialists, such as plumbers, painters, roofers, electricians, and mechanical contractors.
One of a contractor’s most important jobs is to handle the logistics and coordinate every aspect of a project, from securing permits to ordering materials and scheduling subcontractors. If your project is a big one, like a whole-house remodel or building a room addition, a general contractor is well-equipped to manage the whole job.
3. Why Hire a Handyman?
Since handymen take on a variety of jobs and work alone or with a small crew, it is often more cost-effective to hire a handyman than a general or trade-specific contractor who has a higher overhead and charges more for similar services.
Handymen also tend to have more flexible scheduling than contractors. Since they typically work on short-term projects, you can probably schedule your job sooner than if you had to wait for a contractor or specialist who had a large-scale project to complete before they could get to you.
Since handymen are so versatile, hiring one is also a convenient way to complete a number of jobs around the house in one shot. Many handymen charge by the hour no matter what type of work you need to have done, so it can be simple and affordable to take care of your To-Do list all at once, rather than lining up a variety of specialists--all of which may charge a minimum fee, even if the work takes just a few minutes.
4. Importance of Finding a Quality Handyman
The skill level and expertise of your handyman will reflect directly on the work he does on your home. If you hire a less-than-professional handyman who doesn’t know which side of the hammer to hold, you may end up with a home improvement project that costs you more money in the long run because it detracts from your home’s value and forces you to redo the work.
Your home may be your most significant investment, protect it by hiring a great handyman with top-notch experience instead of one who lacks skills and expertise.
Finding a great handyman will likely require interviewing more than one. Through the interview process, you will likely be able to cross a few off your list simply because they don’t meet your basic qualifications, such as having high prices or lacking experience. Once you have a short list of handymen, it’s time to dig a little deeper to ensure that the professional you hire has an impeccable reputation and a solid work history.
5. Characteristics of a Good Handyman
A good handyman has the skills necessary to complete the work you need. Some handymen might have general and all-purpose experience and skills, making them suitable for many different home improvement tasks and projects.
Other handymen might have specialized skills that make them a better choice for plumbing or electrical work. In any case, a good handyman will have a solid background in residential construction, renovation, or repairs.
A good handyman will need to have access to all the tools needed to complete the job. In some cases, a pro may need to rent a specialized tool or equipment to overcome access issues or handle an uncommon task, but if a handyman advertises his abilities and expertise to perform the work you need, he should have every basic tool necessary to do the work.
Good handymen will exhibit reliable behavior, arriving promptly at an appointment to discuss the job. They will pay close attention to the details you provide, taking notes to enable them to remember all information. Good handymen will show a quiet confidence in their skills without appearing overbearing or pushy, and will carry any relevant licenses and insurance required by your state.
6. Signs of a Bad Handyman
There may be some signs that you’re considering a bad handyman. Recognize signs of a bad handyman before you hire one to save yourself headaches. For best results, hire a handyman with several years of experience.
Although you may be able to save some money hiring a less experienced handyman, this poses some risks. A novice handyman won’t have the same level of experience and expertise to bring to a home improvement project.
Other signs of a bad handyman include one who shows up to an appointment late or who does not conduct himself professionally as you speak with him. Handymen should be able to articulate their experiences to help give you a complete idea of their qualifications and why you should hire them.
Not all states require a license to operate as a handyman, but be wary of any provider who cannot produce proof of liability insurance and any licensing that is required where you live.
7. Types of Jobs for a Handyman
Most handymen offer a wide variety of services, but some of their most common projects include carpentry and repair work.
- Drywall Repair: Drywall contractors usually like to stick to installations rather than repair work, so it’s typically more convenient and cost-effective to hire a handyman for repairing holes, blemishes, and cracks in drywall.
- Furniture Assembly: Assembling furniture can be a tedious job, but an experienced handyman can make quick work of putting together your new desk, patio furniture, or other items.
- Fence Repair: Many common fence repairs can be completed more efficiently by a handyman than a fence or painting contractor, such as replacing damaged boards, posts, or panels, cleaning or sanding the surface, or applying a new coat of paint.
- Carpet Removal: The removal of existing flooring may not be offered by a flooring installer, but it is an essential part of the prep work for a new installation. A handyman is the perfect pro to call to remove and dispose of old carpet, padding, and tack strips to get your floor ready for the job.
- Door Hardware Installation: There’s no need to call a contractor for a small job like replacing or installing locksets, door knobs, and deadbolts. It’s usually more efficient to call in a handyman than a specialist for a straightforward job like this.
Most handymen are very versatile and can handle a wide range of projects, from repairing a sprinkler system, installing appliances, or hanging drapes to replacing a garbage disposal, installing weatherstripping, fixing window screens, and servicing a garage door.
8. What is the Cost to Hire a Handyman?
Handymen typically charge by the hour for their services, and though labor rates vary by location, it’s common for these pros to charge $25 to $40 per hour. Like other types of pros, some handymen charge a minimum fee for each visit that may be equal to two or three hours’ worth of labor, or may have set fees for common tasks that are fairly predictable.
In most cases it is cost-effective to have a handyman take care of several tasks at one time, rather than make multiple visits. So if you have a list of jobs you need done, try to line them all up at the same time for the most savings. To help plan for your handyman projects, take a look at our guide on Handyman Prices to see how your job measures up and to get an idea of typical pricing for similar jobs around the U.S.
9. Find a Local Handyman
When you’re ready to call in the pros for your project, connect with a local handyman to discuss the job and get an estimate for the work you have in mind. Each of our pros is an expert in the field and has been background checked and verified to carry the licensing and insurances required by their home states. Our in-house staff has done the legwork for you to help narrow down the field of candidates to handle your next home improvement project.
Related Guides: Hiring a Handyman FAQ