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How to Find a Honest, Hard-working and Skilled Handyman

Updated on May 3, 2009

Hiring a good handyman is not easy and many people have had bad experiences with handymen. They don't show up, they don't return calls, they overcharge you…

Here are some tips on finding the right handyman.

Rule 1. Make a list of what needs to be done before you call. For example, fixing fence, dripping faucet, loose cabinet doors, faulty light switch, etc. Keep the list of all repairs and improvement needed near the phone so you can give the handyman a good idea of the job size before they come to your home.

Handymen are not necessary Jack of All Trades. Most will tell you up front if they aren't as skilled in some areas, e.g. "I don't fit carpet"

Rule 2. Develop a list of handymen prospects, starting from your neighbourhood.

The easiest way to start your search is to pick up the local newspaper or Yellowpages and look through the home repair classifieds. However, this is not the best way to find the right handyman because many successful handymen do not advertise. After a few years in business, many multi-skilled, fulltime handymen find themselves overwhelmed with business and stop actively promoting themselves. This occurs because of networking, referrals from multiple sources that keep them busy year round.

How do you find these handyman gems? Ask relatives, friends, colleagues, and neighbours for a recommendation. The best handymen operate by word-of-mouth referrals. Ask at your local hardware store, ask a widow, or the pickiest person you know.

Pay attention to handyman vans in your local area. This is another way to find your neighbourhood handyman. We found our favorate handman by this way after being overcharged on a trivial fencing job by another handyman found on the local newspaper.

Rule 3. Ask questions before you hire.
How does the handyman price his work? Does he give free estimates? Does he charge by the hour or half hour? Does he charge more for the first hour?

For small jobs, many handymen charge by an hourly rate, usually with a minimum charge. Make note of his hourly rates. When comparing handymen, realise that the hourly rate can be a reflection of his experience, how popular he is, and the competition's rates on the market.

Handyman hourly rates range from £12-£25 in my area (East midland).

Some handyman charge mark-up costs for materials, from 20 to 100 percent. This is not an unfair practice in an occupation where the tradesman is only getting paid by the hour for the time he is on the job, not for the time it takes to shop for materials (which can be time-consuming). Others charge higher rate for the first hour for this reason. If you decide to buy materials yourself, most handymen will be glad to offer specific advice in what you need to get for the job.

Rule 4. Get two or three estimates. Don’t pick the cheapest one. Most people choose the middle bid. A good job is worth more than saving a little on the bid.

Rule 5. Ask for a written and signed quotations for jobs over a certain amount (for example, over £50 for me) before you hire. Make sure you know up front what you are paying for; look to see if supplies are included in the bid.

Rule 6. Never hire the independent going door to door, asking for work. It is likely a scam, or even a setup for criminal activity.

Rule 7. Do not agree to make a full payment up front. Do not pay the entire amount until the work is completed satisfactorily.


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      tinagleisner 6 years ago

      You did a nice job outlining how to find & work with a handyman. Homeowners should take more time at the beginning to find someone good ... and then use them for multiple visits over the years as it's easier for everyone to work with someone they know.