What is a handyman?

A handyman or handywoman is a skilled “jack of all trades” who can complete a wide range of repairs or home improvement jobs.

A handyman, or handyman service, usually charges clients an hourly rate, plus material costs, regardless of the task. Many homeowners compile a list of repairs and hire a handyman to complete the list in a single visit.

The term “handyman” is loosely defined. Some are self-trained, while others have formal training in various aspects of construction and home repair. A home handyman might specialize in a few types of home maintenance, such as painting, carpentry, or tiling, while others may have additional skills such as plumbing and electrical expertise.

There's no national standard or regulation for handymen. Licensing and regulation vary by state. New Jersey, for example, requires handymen who work for a profit to register with the state and carry insurance. California requires handymen to carry a license from the State Contractors License Board to work on any project that exceeds $500 in labor and material costs. Find out before you hire the handyman if he or she has the skills needed to complete your project.

Do you need a handyman or contractor?

The scope of the job and level of skill required to complete it should determine whether you hire a handyman or contractor.

“When trying to determine who you should hire for a particular job, consider the task,” says Angie Hicks, founder of Angie’s List. "If it’s a specialized trade, be sure you hire that tradesperson like a plumber or electrician, for example. If it’s little things that you can do yourself, a handyman is probably the right way to go.”

A handyman is not the best option for a large or complicated project that could take a long time to complete and requires the help of multiple workers. You shouldn't turn to a handyman either if you need an emergency service for plumbing, electrical or appliance work, unless the handyman is licensed in that trade. If an unlicensed person does plumbing or electrical work, you have no guarantee that the work has been done to code, which could affect your homeowners insurance policy or any claim related to the work. Use a contractor or specialist for remodeling work, room additions and projects that require heavy-duty equipment or licensed professionals like electricians.

Why hire a handyman?

You’ve got an ever increasing to-do list of home improvements like changing out a bathroom faucet, replacing missing shingles on the roof and painting a kitchen wall. You could hire a plumber, roofer and painter who have conflicting schedules and their own service charges, or you could hire a handyman to complete all three projects in one day for one hourly rate.

Because many handymen charge by the hour, a homeowner can save time and money on home improvement projects by hiring one to complete a wide range of projects at an hourly rate. A service charge from a plumber or roofer to come to your home could equal or even surpass the cost of hiring a handyman for a few hours.

You're also less likely to be overcharged if your hire a handyman. Unlike a general contractor or specialist who is more likely to price a job based on the estimated amount of time it will take to complete, you only have to pay a handyman for the hours he works, unless you agree on a flat rate. Handymen can keep their rates low because they don't have to pay additional workers, so they have lower overhead costs than contractors or large companies.

Although handymen have less overhead, they do supply their own tools, so there's no need to invest in extra equipment you won't use often or at all. However, you will need to supply the materials. 

When you hire a contractor or specialist, they usually supply the materials, and often at a markup. If they don't provide the materials, they may not guarantee a repair, or your choices are limited to what they have in stock. When you choose your own materials, you know how much the product costs, and you can stay within your budget. You also get to choose the manufacturer, finish and register any warranty agreement.

Handymen have been known to do all types of work, from setting up playground equipment and gas grills to hanging holiday lights and decorations.

Ideal jobs for a handyman

Handymen are best utilized for small, “honey-do” types of home repair work. The following projects are ideal for most handymen:

Minor plumbing work: Many handymen are capable of completing small plumbing jobs like installing new fixtures or repairing a leaky faucet. However, complex projects that require relocating plumbing within the home should be left to a licensed plumber.

Caulking: Adding a fresh application of caulk to gaps between windows, doors and siding is a great way to improve energy efficiency and lower utility costs.

Decks and porches: Over time, weather can take a toll on wooden decks and porches. A handyman can replace broken boards, apply a finish or sealant and improve or upgrade your deck or porch’s safety and appearance.

Gutter cleaning and maintenance: It’s not a huge task, but cleaning gutters is messy and involves climbing on the roof. If you hire a professional handyman with the right equipment and experience, you won't have to risk injuring yourself. A handyman can also install gutter guards to prevent seasonal clogging.

Home exterior repairs: If you have minor damage to your home’s exterior, such as a loose piece of siding or a missing shingle, hiring a handyman to repair those items may prove to be more cost-effective than hiring a specialist.

Painting and touch-ups: If you have a small painting job, like a wall, garage door, touch-ups of scuff marks or the repair of small holes with spackle, consider a handyman. But remember, a handyman typically charges by the hour, so larger jobs are better suited for a professional painting crew.

Hanging window treatments, pictures and mirrors and installing light fixtures: These small tasks can be easily accomplished by a homeowner. But if you hire a handyman with the right tools and experience, these wall-mounted items will likely be hung correctly and without damage.

Tips to hire a handyman

Interview several candidates before hiring a candidate. A handyman works closely with you in your home, so you want to pick one that you feel comfortable being around. Use the following tips to help you choose the best one:

1. Define the project. Start by compiling a list of the home repairs you want completed. Remember, a handyman is best used for small jobs such as installing light fixtures, patching drywall and interior painting. If the job requires pulling a permit, or moving plumbing or electrical wiring, consider hiring a licensed contractor.

2. Shop around. Check Angie’s List reviews and interview at least three handymen. Ask how many years of experience they have and their areas of specialization. Request references from homeowners who have hired them. Make sure the potential handyman has the skills and experience to complete your project.

3. Watch out for scams. Avoid handymen who contact you with unsolicited phone calls or visits to your home. You should also avoid any handyman who refuses to guarantee the price of the job or asks for payment upfront. Reputable handymen don’t expect to get paid before the project is completed.

4. Get it in writing. Insist on a written agreement laying out the job details, costs and payment schedule. Be clear about the times you expect the work to be started and completed. It’s extremely important to get all guarantees in writing.

5. Ask for a guarantee. Many handymen will guarantee their work for up to one year. Ask about guarantees before you make a hiring decision, and of course, make sure the guarantee is in writing.

6. Inspect the work. Inspect the completed work before paying the handyman. Make sure that everything has been done to your satisfaction and at the agreed upon price. Most handymen will be happy to explain the finished work because they want you to be satisfied.

Leave a Comment - 31


Samuel Clemons

Subject: minor home repairs

I need hand rails replaced, concrete steps repaired and minor repairs on the outside on a modular home. All repairs are minor.

Rob Hollinger

Subject: Handymen and Plumbing

Sorry, but in the state of Florida handymen cannot legally install a faucet or repair a leaky faucet. They simply must be licensed in order to work on anything that connects to the potable water supply. They can only install a water filter to a faucet spout or change a filter in a water filtration system. Handy end can't even change a toilet. Against the law.

Janet ParryH

Subject: Variousnremodel jobs on mobible home

I am very ill on dialysis and my carpenter husband had heart bypass which has led to not being able to maintain home which weather left its marks. Deck caving in which I just fell on and got severely hurt Lived here 17 years without 1 decent neighbor. Both of us on disablity or paying for expensive drugs. No where to turn with only a possible loan from bank. Volunteered all my young life helping others without pay. Now I need it and can't find any. Even talking to someone might help, but don't expect payment which you do normally. Can't even afford that! Blessings and prayers are all I have to offer.

Eleanor Poole

Subject: Handyman

The price hourly rate of $160+ for a handyman to clean gutters and small things like changing a faucet Is awfully steep for senior citizens most of us live on Social Security I would not be able to afford someone for 6 or more hours
any other suggestions are there no NY handymen that charge less


Subject: handyman

I can help..I have been working with others in the same situation as yours.

Deanna Jimosse

Subject: handyman for for floor tiles.

While I'm not going to give you a name of a handymen, I will offer some advice which you may or may not find valuable. A few years ago I had 440 sq. ft. of marble tile put down by my handyman. I have regretted ever since and consider it my $10k mistake. Handymen can certainly do the job, but I learned the hard way that tile contractors (more costly labor wise, usually, yes) are experts in tile and will give you advice you normally will not get from a handyman. Years before that incident, I had my fireplace and atrium floor tiled. The contractor provided advice and did a fantastic job. If only I had called him for my more recent job ..... Depending on the needed job, a handyman is certainly not always the answer. Just something to think about. For starters, I can tell you right now that a licensed tile contractor would have never accepted the tile I chose. And I can see why after just a few years; basically it is crap with many fissures.


Subject: i need to hire someone with a truck quick and in a hurry to help

I need someone with a truck who is willing to help me transport a motorcycle from a yard in (N.C)national city a short distance to my storage unit. i WILL GLADLY PAY THIS PERSONHANDSOMELY!!!! one C ONDITION L need it done very early in the morning!! tomorrow morning please contact me immeditately. PLEASE! PLEASE!

Patricia Bloom

Subject: trustworthy handyman, interior and exterior repairs

I have spent so much money for work that is not completed properly; I guess they see me coming. I am an older senior citizen and have been talked into work that was not properly done and then had to ask person to leave telling them I was out of money. It is frightening because they realize I'm easy pickens and need a reliable person to make repairs. Immediate repairs consist of leaders and gutters cleaned and repaired where needed. Plumbing repair drain in kitchen sink in tenant's second floor apartment. And the list goes on.

Margaret Howser

Subject: labor costs for household repairs

I am an executrix of a living trust. The house left to son and stepfather equally, however the husband is claiming he is owed $100,000 for labor
costs associated with house upgrades and repairs done during the marriage. The husband is not a contractor nor does he have any certificates or licenses. He is claiming that we should pay him at $70.00 an hour x 100,00 hrs. I do not believe he can charge that much.

Where can I validate handyman labor costs for this?

Robert Ingraham

Subject: roof and gutter

Would like estimate to regularly "blow off" roof (double wide mobile home) and clean one gutter one alum porch roof. Clean up around home from degree on roof. Located in Valrico, Fl. Area.


Subject: leaking water heater

i would suggest that u replace that water heater 10 years is the average life span for a water heater especially if the water heater in question has not been serviced in all these years right now is a leak next is a heating element will go out if u own your home i would suggest a tank less water heater yes it cost a bit more but they are more energy efficient and u will save money in the long run and u do not have to worry about the tank leaking in ten years because it doesn't have one u will need an electrician to hook it up since u will need to have it wired into the breaker box on its own 220


Subject: how much to pay a handy man?

What is the average cost range of a handy man does it vary from project time or skill level? What if many little jobs are in need of repair versus plubming /electrical ?


Subject: How much to pay a Handyman?

A professional, fully insured Handyman, averages anywhere between $65 to $130 an hour here in New York. Compare their rates to a typical service charge of $160 to $250 for a Plumber or Roofer just to look at and assess a problem and the Hanyman's prices become a smart bargain by comparison.

nadya rossi

Subject: How Can I Read Reviews?

I have been looking for a plumber and a handyman. When I go to click on "Reviews," nothing happens. The cursor turns into another symbol and the reviews are inaccessible. I cannot buy any service without reading the reviews. Please help.

l. long

Subject: handyman

looking for a reputable handyman to do some minor repairs to a home that will soon be on the market. live in the powder springs area

Katie Jacewicz
Katie Jacewicz

Subject: Katie with Angie's List

Members can sign in to search the List, there's a link in the upper right hand corner. If you're not yet a member, you can join online or give us a call at 1-888-888-LIST, and we can help sign you up then help you search. Thanks!

Katie Jacewicz
Katie Jacewicz

Subject: Katie with Angie's list

Members can sign in to search the List, there's a link in the upper right hand corner, or they can call us at 1-888-888-LIST. If you're not yet a member, we can help sign you up then help you search. Thanks!

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