Hire a handyman for home repairs
Atlanta member Robert Johnston decided to tackle some repairs before he put his house up for sale. He says the home improvement tasks required a little more expertise than he possessed, so he hired highly rated handyman Rich Ramires, owner of Honey Do...Home Services in Dunwoody, Ga., to replace outdated light fixtures, repair bifold doors and fix trim. The labor cost Johnston $165.
Five months later, Johnston hired Ramires to repair a couple of items found during the buyer’s home inspection. The repairman replaced a cabinet floor and fixed two doors that wouldn’t shut properly for $110. “Rich was very competent and quick,” Johnston says.
For homeowners with a long to-do list of minor repairs that don’t require a trade license, handymen offer a cheaper and quicker alternative to hiring a general contractor or specialized repairman.
“A lot of times, you don’t need to call in a plumber and pay a $150 service call for something like installing a faucet,” Ramires says. He charges $55 per hour, with a two-hour minimum. “I’m part of a dying breed — a one-man show,” Ramires says. “I’ve had half of my customers for five years or more.”
George Higgins, owner of highly rated Maintenance Connection in Fresno, Calif., agrees repeat customers are critical. “It’s very important to build relationships,” he says.
Higgins and his two handymen do anything from fixing windows and hanging blinds to large jobs like remodels. The home repair service charges $75 an hour on smaller jobs. For bigger projects or a laundry list of repairs, Higgins sets a fixed price.
Licensing requirements for handymen vary by state and municipality, so homeowners should verify with their local licensing board that a handyman can do their specific job. The majority of states require an electrician or plumber’s license to perform most work in those trades.
Many times, handyman licensing depends on the job’s cost or scope. For example, anyone who performs construction work in California that totals $500 or more must be licensed by the Contractors State License Board, meaning they’ve passed exams, a background check and are properly insured.
David Scott, owner of highly rated Mr. Handyman of Dallas/Plano in Texas who employs 10 home repair service technicians, says it’s important a handyman is bonded and insured. “It covers the costs if an injury happens or something breaks.”
Mr. Handyman has a network of franchises in 42 states, and all are required to have liability insurance. Scott says those costs factor into his prices, which are $90 per hour plus a $65 travel charge. His most popular requests involve fixing doors, grout and caulk.
When you’re looking to hire, Higgins suggests never paying all the money upfront and checking references. “I’ve seen a lot of people ripped off, especially seniors,” he says. “Hire someone you can trust.”