Do you need a handyman to help with work on your property? If so, learning how to choose the best handyman can save you time, aggravation, and money!
There are many handymen and handywomen out there who claim to be experts in a wide variety of fields, but how can you be sure that they are qualified to do the work you need to be done?
In this blog post, we have provided a comprehensive checklist of questions to ask prospective handymen, as well as practical insights to help you understand your rights as a customer, together with tips that can save you time and money!
By asking the right questions and doing your research, you can ensure that you choose the best handyperson for the job!
Let’s get into it!
Choosing the Best Handyman – Questions Worth Asking
- What services do you offer? (Ideally, you will have prepared a list of tasks you need help with)
- What locations do you prefer to work in? (If you’re located too far away you may be shortlisted for “filler projects” when local/closer projects are not available.)
- Do you charge for travel time to your projects? (If so, what is the rate?)
- Do you have a background in any specialized trades such as carpentry, or plumbing?
- Do you have any recent experience with [specific task]?
- Do you have any photographs of similar work you’ve completed?
- Can you provide a helper if needed for certain tasks?
- How long have you been in business?
- Do you have a General Liability Insurance policy? (If he has employees, Workers’ Compensation may be required as well.)
- Are there any building code regulations or permits that would be required for the project(s)?
- Can you provide a list of references?
- What are your hourly rates, and is there a minimum time requirement?
- Do you offer discounts for repeat customers?
- When would be the earliest date that you could start the work?
- How long do you estimate the job will take to complete?
- Will you need any special equipment or supplies?
- Do you have the necessary tools for the work, or would you need any rental tools?
- What problems might crop up with this kind of job? If a problem does come up, can you estimate the cost for the additional work?
- What is your procedure for changes to the scope of work such as additional time, materials, or added expenses?
- If a problem arises that is beyond your expertise, do you have other professionals you work with, or can I select my preferred professional to work with?
- Would you be supplying any materials used in my job(s)?
- What methods of payment do you accept, and what is the structure of the payments?
- Do you offer any guarantees of your work? And if so, what is included in the guarantee, and how long does it last?
- Do you have any questions for me about the job?
Also, if you talking to a sales representative from a business that provides “handyman” services, you need to know more about the actual handyman that would be assigned to complete the work on your project. Then you can gauge their skill set before making any decisions because not all handymen are created equal!
By asking these questions, you can get a better sense of who the handyman is, what they are capable of, and how much it will cost to hire them.
With this information, you will be better informed to decide about whether or not to hire a handyman for your job – but don’t ignore your gut instincts!
(If you would like to print a PDF of this checklist, a complimentary copy is available.)
Know Your Legal Rights When Signing a Contract
From our experience here at Today’s Cottage Living, working agreements with a local handyman in a rural or country setting are typically informal handshake agreements. In fact, even requesting a written quote can surprise many handymen or handywomen.
However, if you do encounter a professional handyman service that does provide a formal contract for you to sign, you may be surprised to learn that there can be a big difference between signing the contract in the comfort of your home, versus at the contractor’s office.
Sounds strange, right?
Well, read on, because this little difference can be a big deal and can make a big difference in your legal rights.
For example, in some jurisdictions, such as Ontario, Canada, you have the legal right to back out of a signed contract within 10 days if it was signed in your home. This is not the case if the contract was signed at the contractor’s office.
This cooling-off period may become a real-life-saver if you begin to discover nasty feedback on the handyman during the ten days.
So, if you’re trying to choose the best handyman, make sure that they’re willing to sign a contract at your home. It could save you a lot of time and money down the road.
Another important thing to keep in mind when you’re trying to choose the best handyman is their level of experience. You want to make sure that they have plenty of experience with the type of work that you need to be done.
The last thing you want is to hire someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing and ends up doing a shoddy job. So, ask them how long they’ve been in business and how many jobs they’ve completed that are similar to yours.
Finally, you’ll also want to make sure that the handyman is insured. This is important for two reasons. First, if something goes wrong and they’re not insured, you could be on the hook for any damages that occur.
Second, if they’re not insured and something does happen to go wrong, you could end up being sued by the other party. So, it’s just good business sense to make sure that your handyman is properly insured.
Managing Expectations = Happy Relationships
It’s always better to over-communicate your expectations on what you see as the ideal outcome for the project, vs. assuming things will go as you hope. Managing expectations is one of the keys to a long-term relationship with any handyman or contractor.
After all, if you’re not clear about what you want, how can the person you’re hiring know what to deliver? They may do the job to the best of their abilities, but if it’s not up to your standards, you’ll only be disappointed.
Don’t be afraid to be very specific about what you want. A good handyman will be more than happy to answer any questions you have so that you can feel confident in their abilities.
After all, you’re trusting them to do a good job on your home – it’s important that you feel comfortable with them!
Managing Timelines and understanding the handyman’s rights
Most handymen are “Jack of all trades” types that enjoy the many benefits of being a handyman, and the freedom of setting their own hours that comes with being a self-employed handyman. As such, you want to be assured that your jobs will be completed in a timely manner.
If the timing of the work required is critical, be sure to get a commitment to the start date, and finish date. Alternatively, if the nature of the work is not time-critical, ask for his best estimate on how long he expects the job to take.
It’s worth noting that in some states and provinces a contractor that provides a written contract that includes a start date and completion date, has the legal right to start the work up to 30 days after the start date – and 30 days to finish the work after the finish date.
Start/finish dates may not be critical for most handyman work, but if you have any concerns you may want to check with your local government to understand your rights.
Understanding Handyman’s Working Style
There are two basic characteristics of handymen/handywomen, and contractors. There is the production-oriented type that what to get a quality job done as quickly as possible, and there are craftsmen, that strive for perfection.
Are you looking for perfection? Or, are you happy with a good quality job, done as quickly as possible? This may be a mood point if the job is cutting the lawn, cleaning the eaves, or putting the dock away for the season. But what if it’s a bathroom renovation, or installing kitchen cabinets and countertops?
When it comes to quality-critical projects, try to get a feel for the type of work the handyman is likely to provide. Does he/she seem detail-oriented, or cookie-cutter-oriented?
Ask questions about quality and how he/she will ensure the finished project will meet your expectations, and look for details in his estimate for clues on what you may expect.
Should you negotiate the Handyman’s price?
You may want to try and negotiate the handyman’s price, but remember that you get what you pay for. If you’re looking for top-quality work, be prepared to pay a bit more. Conversely, if you’re looking for a quick and easy job, don’t expect perfection.
The bottom line is this: be realistic in your expectations, and you’re more likely to be happy with the finished product. Ask questions, be specific about what you want, and don’t be afraid to negotiate.
Ask if you can get a preferred rate if you make a longer-term commitment. For example, if you group several jobs, or commit to a certain number of days per month, will he/she give you a preferred rate?
Keep in mind that getting anything done nowadays is expensive. The handyman will incur travel expenses, overhead costs, government fees and taxes, and insurance costs. These expenses can quickly eat up a significant percentage of the hourly rate being charged.
So have an open discussion on the price to settle on a fair price that you can both live with and you will avoid any stressful surprises down the road.
How to check handyman referrals and references?
The best referrals come from active customers where the handyman is currently working. And if you want to be assured, go to the job site and ask the homeowner if they are happy with the work being provided. Has work been done on time and within budget?
Try to get an understanding of the customer’s expectations for the work provided. Their expectations may be different from yours, so keep this in mind when you are interpreting the customer’s feedback – favorable, or negative.
And while you’re there, take a look around. Is the job site a mess, or well organized?
Here’s a great quote to leave you with when you’re evaluating prospective handymen:
“How you do anything is how you do everything”Martha Beck
Hiring a handyman can be difficult since the ones who deliver quality work are generally booked solid. But if you feel confident in the person you’re interviewing and your intuition says he may be a good fit, start with a couple of smaller projects to test the waters!
Thank you for sharing your time with us at Today’s Cottage Living!
Disclosure: TodaysCottageLiving.com participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for publishers to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.
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