Preparing to Hire a Handyman for Small Fixes

By HomeAdvisor

Updated October 18, 2016

Handyman for small repairs

Loose banisters, a hole in a wall, a closet door that doesn’t shut right, a rotted board in the back porch. These are the tiresome little problems that can drive a homeowner crazy. In days long gone, we all knew a local handyman who we could call to fix such small, tedious problems.

Changing Times for the Modern Handyman

Today, the shift of workers to new professions has chipped away at the availability of the traditional handyman. Even when we actually do find one, we have concerns about insurance, workers compensation liability, social security taxes, licensing and a host of other complications.

During the booming eighties, about the only way to get a professional firm out to repair a porch was to have some major remodeling done and make the porch repair part of the job. Contractors had so much work they couldn’t be bothered with small repairs, which lacked the glory and big bucks associated with larger projects.

Times have changed. During the eighties, rapidly rising housing values gave homeowners a deep pool of home equity to tap into to pay for major renovations. Now, few people are in a position to do major remodeling projects. In order to survive, many of the firms who only did jobs over $25,000 a few years ago, will now jump at the chance to repair your porch.

It’s a common misconception to think hiring a handyman will always be cheaper than hiring a licensed appliance specialist, electrician, plumber, or carpenter. A handyman may not be the most economical way to go. In order to earn a living, professional handymen need to charge minimum hourly rate and often have a minimum charge just to show up. It is just the nature of the business. You can imagine how difficult it would be to make a living driving 30 minutes for 20 minutes worth of work. The gas alone would eat handymen alive!

Also, be aware that in some states it is illegal to hire an unlicensed worker for home improvement projects valued at $500 or over, including materials and labor.

Get Organized Before You Call a Handyman

There is something you can do to reduce the cost of repairs. By getting organized before you call a contractor, you’ll not only save money, but also reduce the hassle factor.

Begin by walking through the entire house room by room. Then go outside and walk around the house looking at both the house and the grounds. Make a list of everything that needs attention. It sometimes helps to get a friend to help because he/she can offer an outsider’s perspective.

Now organize your list into logical groupings. Sections might include wall repairs, door repairs, weatherstripping, windows and so on.

Expect most firms to front load the first hour. For example, they might charge a $35 service fee just for showing up. Just like with plumbers, it makes sense to get everything done all at once so you only have to pay that extra expense once.

Many tasks, like drywall repair, involve several steps. Each step requires a certain amount of time and trouble to set up. The result is, it doesn’t take much longer to fix five holes than it does to fix one. This is because no matter how many holes there are, the worker only has to set up for each step once.

Provide Your Handyman With a List

If you give your handyman a full list of things you want done, you’ll reduce the time it takes to explain everything.

Also, if he has a good list to work from, he can organize his approach and the order of tasks.

In essence, you choose a home repair firm the same way you choose a firm for major work. And, the key to getting small repairs done efficiently with minimum hassle is to be organized up front.

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  1. Moira Blythe, February 27:

    I really like hiring handymen and repair men to work on my house because I want to keep it in the best shape it can be in! I appreciate your advice here to walk around the house and make a list of all of the problem areas that they can fix so that you can save money by only having them out for one trip. This is something I’ve never thought to do before, but it would save them time and it would save me money!

  2. John Mallory, May 16:

    I have a new fence next to me and want to modify my storage area where I keep my supplies

    Also I want to put in a new fence next to my neighbors

  3. Esdras, September 6:

    Need a reasonable price for building shelves in my garage

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