How much does it cost to hire a handyman?
Reputable handymen should stand behind their work and won't have a problem correcting mistakes at no cost to homeowners, but a written agreement is always preferable to a verbal contract. (Photo by Jannica Abrams)
Handymen are a great resource for homeowners, whether it's for tackling a small, technical job or starting on a major project. But good help comes with a price. What's the average cost for hiring a handyman?
How handymen charge
It's first important to understand how handymen charge for their time. There are two common methods: by hour, or by job. If the work is straightforward and will take no more than a day or two, you'll typically be charged by the hour, plus a fee for mileage. Things like hanging a new door or repairing a leaky toilet fall under this category. Be aware that professional services - for example, a plumbing expert - will cost more than handymen with broad skill sets.
Angie’s List members who had similar handyman jobs done in 2013 reported paying an average of $74.18 per hour with a general range of $67.19 to $81.17, not counting discounts many service providers offer to Angie’s List members.
Larger jobs will often be quoted in total, with contractors and homeowners negotiating when payment will occur; many handymen prefer to be paid by milestone. For example, they might charge half of a total basement renovation price when the framing and drywall stages are completed, and the other half once the job is finished. To estimate the cost of a larger project, homeowners should research the basic price of preferred materials and fixtures, then double it. This is a good baseline for what a handyman will charge.
Regardless of which method your handyman uses, make sure to get a written quote detailing costs, payment expectations and time lines. In addition, get any guarantees about work or warranty in writing. Plumbing repairs, for example, should include guarantees about leaks over a specific length of time. Reputable handymen should stand behind their work and won't have a problem correcting mistakes at no cost to homeowners, but a written agreement is always preferable to a verbal contract.
Keeping costs down
There are several ways homeowners can help lower the cost of a job. The first is preparation, which includes cleaning and prepping the area where a handyman will be working. Move out any furniture and sweep or vacuum before your contractor arrives. If you're having multiple small tasks completed, prepare a list in advance instead of standing around discussing what needs to be done. Some jobs also offer specific ways to save money. If you're having new carpet installed, for example, you can choose to tear up and dispose of the old carpet, saving yourself several hundred dollars.
Another way to save on work is to buy your own materials. Be sure to do research first to ensure what you buy will work in your home. If you buy the wrong materials, however, it will cost more to correct the mistake. Also remember that experience plays a role in cost. If your neighbor down the street has done a few projects for other homeowners, he won't be as expensive as hiring a local handyman, but his work won't be of the same quality and it may take him longer to complete.
The average cost for hiring a handyman varies by experience, project scope and time. Homeowners should expect to pay either by the hour or for an entire project, but never pay the entire balance owed before work begins. Research and preparation can help lower costs and make sure your handyman's time is put to best use.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published on May 20, 2013. We've updated it with 2013 cost data.