With all the excitement of homeownership also comes some very real responsibilities – specifically, repairs and regular maintenance. And sure, some of us are gifted with the skills to fix leaky sinks and put down tile, but for most of us, these tasks are best done by professionals. When hiring a handyman or contractor to help with your latest project, you need to find someone who can be trusted and has the skills to get the job done well. You also want the price to be fair. Getting a stranger to do all of this can be difficult, so check out these tips and tricks for hiring a handyman.
What to Look for in a Handyman
Here are some basic things you should be looking for:
- Certifications – When interviewing potential candidates, start by asking what certifications they have. For instance, check if your handyman is certified with the Association of Certified Handyman Professionals. Certifications can help guarantee that the person you’re hiring is knowledgeable, professional and able to offer customer care.
- Contracts: Don’t ever hire a handyman without a signed agreement of responsibilities, rates, etc. You can either make one yourself or use a handyman service contract template. Contracts can give you some protection, especially if this is the first time you’re working with a particular handyman. This is also a good time to ask about a warranty on the project.
- Free quotes: You shouldn’t have to pay for a quote. Nowadays, free quotes are usually common courtesy. Don’t waste a minute on someone who asks for money to come see the property.
- Receipts: Ask in advance if they offer a receipt. You should do this for a couple reasons. One is that receipts allow you to keep track of the money flow and provide proof that the contract was completed. Another reason to get a receipt is that it can be used to verify a tax deduction if you’re paying for work on an investment property or home office.
- Communication skills: Be wary of handymen who don’t communicate well. You need someone who can clearly explain the work they’re doing and provide a timeline for when it will be completed.
- Insurance coverage: It’s often best to make sure the person you’re working with is insured so they’re covered in the event that they are hurt on the job or they accidentally cause damage to your property.
- Honesty: A sign of a good handyman is someone who tells you when they’re in over their head. If they’ve never built a porch before, you probably don’t want them giving the old college try at your house. You want someone who will tell you when to go with someone else.
Where to Find a Handyman
Now that we’ve talked about what to look for, use these avenues to find the handyman that’s right for you.
Thumbtack or Angie’s List
Sites like Thumbtack and Angie’s List allow you to search for reputable handymen online. Thumbtack even lets you send out a blast notification to handymen in your area to request bids. This gives you a little leverage for finding the best price.
The downside of these sites is that, in many cases, the handymen and contractors listed can be on the pricier side. Take into consideration the amount you’re willing to spend before searching on these sites. And if you don’t find the answer you’re looking for, continue to look for cheaper options.
While Craigslist may seem like the less reliable cousin of Angie’s List, it can actually be a great place to find handyman services, specifically ones that are cheaper. If you decide to go this route, do yourself a favor and ask for references from previous clients and pictures of past work. The majority of reputable handymen will have these at the ready.
Yelp has optimized the way we do reviews, allowing everyone to publically share their opinions about everything. When looking for a handyman, check if their company has been reviewed on Yelp. Usually the people who give feedback are the most passionate about a company (whether that be negatively or positively), so you can get a spectrum of views of the people you’re hiring.
Your Local Grocery Store
Flyers and ads on a local grocery store corkboard often advertise services that are cheaper than other options. If you can’t find the service you’re looking for there, make your own flyer for finding a handyman. If you decide to hire a handyman from a flyer, treat it with the same caution as you would a Craigslist service: Ask for references and pictures.
Word of Mouth
Even with all of our technology, one of the best ways to find and hire the appropriate person is through word of mouth. If you’re getting ready to hire out a project, ask the people in your circles for advice, whether they’re from your office, your church or your community center. There’s a good chance many of them have experienced the same joys of homeownership, so they could easily point you in a good direction. That being said, don’t get fooled into hiring your coworker’s nephew because he’s “trying out” plumbing for the summer. Be selective when taking this advice from your peers.
It may take some time to find the right person, but you should think of it as an investment. Nothing can help or harm your next project like the handyman you choose.
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