What a Home Handyman Can Do for You

Photo: J D Hancock/flickrHandymen are a great help to the average homeowner. They are usually capable of handling a variety of tasks so you can ask them to take care of several items in the same visit. What’s more, once you find a reliable handyman, you will tend to build a relationship of sorts. It’s reassuring to say, “You know that ornery bathroom faucet of mine? It’s acting up again” and be understood by someone who is in a position to solve the problem. Read more about handymen and the role they can play in your home.

Handyman vs. Contractor

Even though there is a certain amount of overlap between the services of a handyman and those of a building contractor, you will find some distinct differences as well. Contractor work, such as wiring a house’s electrical system, requires a state-issued license. Contractors usually specialize in one area of home construction and repair. Handymen, on the other hand, are often generalists, skilled at numerous small home improvement or maintenance tasks. They do not need a license (although it’s essential to hire only individuals who are insured, for their protection and your own) but may be legally limited to projects under a specified dollar amount. Cost to hire a handyman can be either an hourly or “per job” rate, but will almost invariably be substantially lower than the charge for a contractor.

 “Handy Do” List

Just about every household has a “honey do” list of chores waiting to be done around the home. If you don’t have the time or the inclination to tackle it yourself, hire a handyman who will turn it into a “handy do” list … and, in short order, a “handy did” list. Here are some typical handyman tasks you might want to include:

  • Cleanup indoors and out, including pressure washing and mold removal
  • Trash removal
  • Seasonal and year-round maintenance
  • Lawn and garden care
  • Appliance installation and repair
  • Insulation of HVAC system
  • Waterproofing of basement
  • Painting
  • Plastering
  • Drywall and patching
  • Grouting and caulking
  • Hanging curtains, blinds, and artwork
  • Assembly of flat pack furniture and cabinets
  • Small-scale carpentry work such as wainscoting and molding
  • Minor electrical work, for example, installation of a light fixture or ceiling fan
  • Bathroom fixture install
  • Construction of hardscape features like fences and decks
  • Miscellaneous small household repairs

Make the Most of Your Handyman’s Services

Before you hire any handyman, ensure that he is ready, willing, and able to do the type of work you need. Make the most of the hours that he will be working for you. Try to clarify ahead of time exactly what you would like him to accomplish and pinpoint the nature of any repairs to be performed. A written list can be an excellent time- and money-saver. Bear in mind that while handyman service is frequently billed by the hour, there tends to be a minimum charge and often a travel fee as well. This means that it will be cheaper to pay for one service call of longer duration than two shorter ones.

Ask for a price estimate and, in the case of larger jobs, a signed contract.

Last but not least, check the fine print. Find out whether the work you’d like done will require a building permit and verify that having a handyman perform routine maintenance tasks on, say, a major kitchen appliance will not void your warranty.

 Laura Firszt writes for networx.com.

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