Handyman Services & Pricing Guide

Let the neighbors know:

The rates and services of a handyman can vary widely depending on the market and handyman. A handyman (or handywoman) is a skilled generalist. Some jurisdictions require them to be licensed, but the term applies to a jack-of-all-trades who performs minor repairs or construction tasks on residential sites.

  • Hire a Handyman Costs
    Most homeowners spent between:
    $187 - $624
    Average cost:
    $392
    Low cost:
    $75
     
    High cost:
    $1,100
  • Repair Tile & Grout Costs
    Most homeowners spent between:
    $237 - $536
    Average cost:
    $372
    Low cost:
    $100
     
    High cost:
    $815
  • Repair Cabinets Costs
    Most homeowners spent between:
    $140 - $509
    Average cost:
    $325
    Low cost:
    $50
     
    High cost:
    $900

Handyman Cost Factors

How much you pay your handyman will depend on several factors:

Size of a Handyman Job

The larger the job, the more time it will take to complete and the more it will generally cost. More experienced handymen can estimate how long a job will take before they start. Some handymen have certain jobs they charge a flat fee for as well. Discuss your project in detail with your handyman ahead of time to establish the price.

Small jobs

This includes relatively simple things such as replacing light switches and outlets. Replacing a broken garbage disposal is also considered a small job, as is repairing a leaky faucet, replacing a thermostat, or even hanging a picture. As a rule of thumb, if it requires simple hand tools and takes no more than 1 to 2 hours, it’s a small job.

Example: Fixing a water spout in the bathroom. The parts are there; they just need to be installed.

Medium jobs

These are a little more involved. Medium jobs can take more time and require a little extra expertise. For example, repairing drywall involves spackle, a putty knife and attaching support material if the damage is large enough. Hanging shelves can also be a medium job as shelves must be properly anchored into studs. These jobs can take between 2 and 4 hours to finish.

Example: Replacement installation for a mailbox

Large jobs

These are the most involved of handyman jobs and include wiring for a home theater, installing heating and cooling registers, wall repair or installing a kitchen sink with all of the elements. Generally, if you’re wondering if you need a handyman or a contractor for a particular job, it’s probably considered a large job. These jobs can take from 4 hours to a couple of days to finish depending on the complexity.

Example: Add locks to certain interior doors, install gate on stairway for kids and pets, and turn a cubby into a linen closet all in one visit.

  • Small Jobs
    • 1-2 hours, $77-$154 average
  • Medium Jobs
    • 2-4 hours, $154-$308 average
  • Large Jobs
    • 4+ hours, $308 on up.

Keep in mind, that if the job is big, requiring $500 a day or more, or includes the use of heavy machinery (bobcats, front-end loaders, etc.) you may want to hire a contractor instead.

Hourly Rates for a Handyman

The average hourly rate of a handyman is in the $60 to $65 price range. However, there are professional handyman services that may charge higher, sometimes up to $125 an hour. The benefit of these services, while more expensive, is a degree of assurance that the handyman is a competent professional and will provide a certain quality of work. The national average is about $77 an hour.

Handyman's Experience

Experience can be a valuable commodity. The rate will be based on their level of expertise. Experienced handymen may charge a higher rate, but take half the time to do a job than a less experienced pro.

You might think that an experienced handyman could do a job faster than an inexperienced one. However, consider that some jobs don’t take that long and most don’t involve serious complications. The $60 an hour handyman who just opened his business will probably take about the same time as the $125 an hour handyman who has 30 years in the business, and both will probably have no trouble on a small job like changing cabinetry hardware. However, a more complex job -- hanging entirely new cabinets or replacing kitchen countertops -- may benefit from an experienced handyman.

Complexity of the Job

The more complicated the job, the longer it will probably take and the more you'll pay for labor. A good handyman will be able to tell you from the start if there are aspects of the job they can't handle well. In those cases, you'll need a contractor or licensed specialist.

Simple jobs are often small jobs, but even some larger jobs can be fairly simple. Changing an interior door knob is easy and a “small” job while sanding and re-hanging an interior door is a “medium” job, yet neither is particularly complex. Removing and replacing an old toilet, on the other hand, involves heavy lifting, plumbing knowledge and cleanup. If you aren’t sure about the complexity of the job, ask the handyman you are interviewing about what’s involved.

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How Does A Handyman Charge?

Handymen normally charge by the hour, but can also charge a flat rate by the job. Some may charge for travel time, and some may charge a markup on parts they buy for your job. When gathering estimates, this is something you want to know early on.

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By the Hour

A handyman who works independently will usually charge around $60 to $65 an hour on average. Depending on where you live the actual price range can run from $55 to $75 for an independent operator. A handyman who is part of a larger business can charge up to $125 an hour or more. The advantage to this is that he is expected to have a lot more expertise and meet a certain standard.

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By the Job

Whether an independent handyman or part of a business, some jobs are best charged at a flat rate. These are usually larger jobs such as hanging chandeliers, mounting wall TVs, installing a toilet or a ceiling fan, or other such involved work.

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Cost Differences

The more complex a job is, the more likely it is to have complications. Also, some jobs can take a couple of days if preparation hasn’t been done. If you break it down, billing by the job can sometimes mean you are paying higher per hour if a handyman works quickly. However, some jobs take longer and you wind up paying less by the hour. So for example:

  • If a flat rate job is $150 and the handyman gets the job done in an hour, you’ve paid him $150 an hour.
  • However, if the flat rate job is $150 and complications cause the job to take four hours, you’re paying $37.50 an hour.

In general, an experienced handyman knows how long a job should take and may give you a flat rate based on that. If he knows a particular job will take about an hour, he may present his hourly rate as a flat rate. If he knows it will take two hours, he may give you the rate for two hours as a flat rate. Naturally, this is incentive for the handyman to work quickly, and keeping a happy customer is an incentive to do the job well.

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Common Handyman Job Lengths & Prices

Here are examples of some of the more common services and how long they take:

  • Replace thermostat, hang heavy picture, repair leaking pipe, replace a torn screen – 1-2 hours
  • Drywall repair (smaller sections, not an entire room), mount shelves – 2-3 hours
  • Replace window, hang a new door (includes shims, sanding, framework adjustments), woodwork repair – 3-4 hours
  • Repair a wall, install heating and air registers, install carpet (small room) – 4+ hours

Some services are quite involved and charging by the hour would make the cost prohibitive. Therefore, many handymen charge more complex jobs by the job. Here are some examples of services and prices that are often billed by the job:

  • Hall light installation: $65
  • Change toilet valve: $75
  • Bathroom faucet installation: $90
  • Hang ceiling fan (normal height): $100
  • Hang ceiling fan (second story height): $250
  • Install garbage disposal: $150
  • Install toilet bowl: $150
  • Install kitchen sink: $250-$300
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Finding the Right Handyman

Developing a trusting relationship with a skilled, reliable handyman is like finding that great daycare provider or doctor. Here are some tips about selecting which handyman to hire:

  • Make a list of what you need done and include some detail. “Fix my sink” is a bit too general. Noting information such as “My sink is leaking at the faucet” or “My sink is leaking where the pipe goes into the wall” can tell a handyman quite a bit about what to expect and can help them give you a better estimate.
  • Prioritize your to-do list. Check to see if the handyman will “bundle” tasks. For example, if your kitchen sink pipes were leaking but you wanted to replace the old faucet as well, you might be able to get both jobs done at once for less than you would pay for two separate visits.
  • Get at least 3 potential handymen to choose from. This will give you a reasonable range to learn what a typical job like yours should involve and cost.
  • Ask to see prior work they’ve done and check references.
  • Ask about their experience. Some handymen are also licensed for certain jobs such as electrical or plumbing, so if you have a plumbing repair needed, you can be reasonably sure of a handyman’s ability to do the job.
  • Ask about rates up front. Some handymen charge by the hour, often with a minimum, while others may also have jobs that they use a flat rate for. Setting a budget cap is not unreasonable,
  • Get estimates in writing. While you should avoid ballpark figures, there are some jobs that may turn into something more than originally discussed. For example, a handyman hired to clean your rain gutters and downspouts may find pieces that need replacing due to corrosion. They should advise you of the need before beginning any such further work.
  • Check for liability insurance. This is to protect yourself should he or she get hurt on the job.
  • Check for any complaints. Be sure to read the complaints if possible. Sadly, some people can be unreasonable or expect too much from others and will file complaints out of vindictiveness.
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What Jobs Should I Hire a Handyman For?

A handyman, contractor and DIYer share a lot of the same skills. However, there are times when you have to decide whether the job is one you can handle, or if you should call for help.

DIY

Many small repairs or modifications can easily be handled by anyone with a screwdriver or hammer.  DIY, however, is entirely dependent on the individual. What one person considers a simple task could be well beyond the abilities of another person. One way to decide if a project is better as a DIY project is to ask yourself what can go wrong and how badly.

  • Updating your kitchen cabinets with new handles is a project with very few complications. The worst that could happen is that you might not have screwed them in tight enough and they come loose.
  • Replacing an electrical outlet, however, can be very dangerous if you do it wrong. If you don’t know about electrical currents and how they work in your house, call someone who does.

Another consideration to think about is how many people it will take to do the job. A single person can build a house. However, it’s going to take a very long time and will be very difficult. Installing insulation or drywall can be handled quite easily by one person and requires little in the way of specialized skills. The actual effort of the job should be regarded as well. Installing a cinderblock wall is very labor-intensive. Moving blocks, mortar, and rebar can become tiring very quickly.  

Contractor

Some jobs may seem simple enough -- turning your attic into an office or a spare bedroom, a larger picture window in your living room -- but often require quite a bit more knowledge. If your project is going to cost over $500 a day and take more than a day or two, you might want to hire a contractor. These projects are usually fairly big. They will also be more likely to require permits and inspections, and will often require a crew of workers to accomplish.

If you project requires any of the following, you need a contractor:

  • New plumbing
  • Modifying existing plumbing such as replacing lines
  • New electrical work
  • Repairing an electrical system such as replacing a breaker box or replacing wiring in the walls or ceiling
  • Installing or repairing gas lines
  • Any HVAC work beyond routine maintenance
  • Adding livable space such as a room addition or converting an attic or basement into a livable space
  • Major remodeling
  • Anything that affects the structure of your house.

This list is by no means exhaustive. Before beginning any project, check with your local regulations to see if your project is required to be done by a licensed contractor. Although it’s more expensive than hiring a handyman, hiring a contractor is a way to make sure that things are done safely and up to code.

Handyman

A handyman is the happy medium between DIY or hiring a contractor. As stated above, there are some jobs a handyman isn’t allowed to do. This is why some handymen are also licensed contractors. It enables them to spread their nets wider when bidding on jobs.

  • A handyman can take care of numerous small jobs and sometimes works with contractors on large projects, especially when time is of the essence.
  • A handyman is quite versatile and can help with everything from replacing your thermostat to paving a new walkway.
  • They can handle most jobs that you may not have the time or ability to do yourself.
  • They can also do jobs that may be trickier than you might think like a toilet replacement.

To determine if you can use a handyman instead of a fully-licensed contractor, ask yourself the following:

  • Could I do it myself if I only had the time?
  • Could I do it myself if I only had the knowledge or ability?
  • Should this take less than a day?
  • Should this cost less than $500?
  • Can this be done by only one or two people?
  • Can this be done without a permit?

Answering “yes” to these usually means that your project can be done by a handyman. When looking for bids, be sure to give as much detail about the job as possible. An ethical handyman will tell you upfront if the job requires a contractor or if he or she isn’t comfortable with certain kinds of work.

Contractor vs. Handyman

A contractor is a specialist in his or her field: electrical contractor, plumbing contractor, construction contractor, etc. They often oversee a team that may consist of subcontractors who handle specialized jobs within the larger project. They are expected to be knowledgeable about permits and other such technicalities.

Handymen specialize in odd jobs. It could be replacing a broken cabinet hinge, stopping a leaky faucet or sanding down a gouge in your wood floor. The handyman is a trained generalist, and it was probably a handyman who coined the phrase, "No job too small."

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In Conclusion

“Handy” is defined as “convenient” or “good with hands or tools”. A handyman is both. If you have a lot of things to take care of that don’t include the repairs your house needs, a handyman can be the most convenient way to get those tasks done and done right. Just remember these final three tips to help the job go well:

  • Move furniture or other items away from where the handyman is going to be working before he or she gets there.
  • Make yourself available to answer any questions.
  • Keep kids and pets away from where the handyman is working.
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