Selling a home is one of the most stressful experiences in life. You have to find a new place to move, pack up all your possessions, arrange for a moving company to pick them up, and on and on. But if you want to get top dollar for your property, you have one more task: completing all those minor repairs you’ve probably let slide over the years on your current place. This is where the services of a handyman can, well, come in handy. Let’s look at how you can find qualified help at a reasonable price.
What is a Handyman?
There are contractors and tradespeople with specialized skills, many of whom must be licensed. Examples would be plumbers, electricians, heating and cooling contractors, and construction workers. A handyman, by contrast, is a jack of all trades. Some may have specialized training in certain aspects of home repair, while others may be largely self-taught. They may be a one-person operation, an employee of a home repair company, or a member of a national handyman franchise. They do have one thing in common, however – they are typically cheaper than hiring a specialized tradesperson or contractor because their overhead is low.
In short, there is no national standard or definition of what being a handyman entails. Some in the trade might specialize in certain areas such as painting, light carpentry, or drywall repair, while others may perform simple plumbing and electrical repairs. Licensing requirements and regulations governing the industry vary by state and locality. Before hiring anyone, it’s a good idea to ask for references and make sure the person you are hiring is bonded and insured at a minimum.
How a Handyman Can Help
Typical jobs for a handyman include:
- Minor plumbing repairs, such as installing a new fixture or repairing a leaky faucet
- Installing light fixtures
- Calking around windows and doors
- Minor drywall repair and patching
- Painting and touchups
- Gutter cleaning and repair
- Hanging pictures, mirrors, and window treatments
- Minor repairs of all kinds
Basically, if it’s a job you could conceivably see yourself or a family member take on, but just don’t have the time or skills to complete, it is probably a good candidate for a handyman.
Before You Contact a Prospective Handyman, Make a Plan
A handyman typically charges an hourly rate no matter the task. That means you can save money and time by compiling a list of all the tasks with which you need help so you can have them completed in a single session. If the tasks are all in a single category, such as repair and painting of walls, you may want to seek out a specialist. If, on the other hand, you have a wide variety of tasks requiring a number of specialized skills, you may want to contact someone with a broad range of experience or even hire a team from a handyman service at one flat rate.
You can expect a handyman to be equipped with all of the tools required to get the job done. He or she should also provide basic supplies like nails, screws, and glue. Building materials, such as drywall, tiles, fixtures, and paint, are typically negotiable. Before contacting someone, decide whether you’ll provide these supplies or if you’d like them to do so. If your handyman purchases the materials, the cost should be added to your final invoice without a markup, but be sure to check first, so there are no surprises.
Hiring Your Handyman
Once you’ve defined the scope of the job, it’s time to hire someone. It’s always a good idea to get three quotes for comparison. So, where do you find prospects? Begin with a simple Google search for “handyman near me” or, alternatively, a specialty such as “exterior repair near me.” You can also turn to contractor source websites, such as Angie’s List or HomeAdvisor, that advertise pre-screened workers, or look to listings on Yelp. In any case, take a few minutes to read the reviews that previous clients have left.
Other places to look for recommendations include your local big-box retailer, such as Home Depot or Lowe’s, or your local hardware store or lumber yard. If you are working with a real estate agent, ask them for recommendations since they have a vested interest in making sure repairs are done right on the properties they sell. Finally, you can check with friends in the area or contacts on Facebook or Nextdoor for a word of mouth recommendation.
Ask each prospective contractor about their experience and areas of specialization. Also, request references from other clients who have hired them. Get a written quote detailing the job, cost, and payment schedule, and be clear about when you expect the work to be begun and finished. And be sure to get all guarantees in writing. After the job is complete, inspect the work before paying, ensuring that everything has been completed to your satisfaction.
Hiring a professional to help you with a long list of repairs and improvements can help ease the stress of putting a house on the market. And when these jobs are done right, it will ensure that your property looks its best, command top dollar, and sell quickly. A good experience with a handyman often leads to one final question: Why didn’t I do this years ago?