Modern citizens are more mobile than ever. We move from city to city as opportunities, life changes, and desires inspire us. With every new community comes the chore of finding new home care professionals.
It’s like leaving your doctor, dentist, and hairdresser. When you’re new in town, you’ll have to ask around to find a plumber, electrician, and overall skilled handyman.
While the Whitepages are always an option, it’s nice to have some personal feedback on the person you’re hiring. In today’s world, you can let the internet connect you to a world of reviews and feedback.
Ask Friends and Family
The best place to start is with people you know and trust. Send out the query to friends and family in the area. Who are they using? What was their experience?
Perhaps even more importantly, is there someone they had a poor experience with and do not recommend?
Ask co-workers too. The office is a great place to find recommendations for HVAC workers, window cleaners, or painters, in addition to a general handyman.
The neighbors are another good option. If the handyman already has a reputation in the area, it’s likely going to be a good fit for you too.
Social media has its perks, like the ability to connect with your local community. For example, Facebook has groups for everything from lost pets to restaurant recommendations.
Look for Facebook pages in your local community. It may be a ‘yourcity’ people page or a ‘yourcity’ happenings page. Ask to join and follow any requirements, such as answering a few questions.
Once you’re approved, ask your community for suggestions.
Hit the Internet
In a general sense, you can use the internet as a search engine in your hunt for a handyman. Simply type in “Handyman in ‘your city’.” Listings will pop up. Many will also come with at least a few reviews.
Be sure to read the reviews. Find out what the person liked about the hired worker, and again, be aware of any issues community members report.
Check with Other Professionals
Head to the local hardware store. Ask the employees if they know of any handymen in the area. If they have an information board, see if there are postings.
The same goes for the paint or other supply store. Employees who frequently see the same customers get to know them quite well. So if a handyman is often seeking paint, hardware, electrical, or plumbing supplies, they’ll know about it.
If you’ve hired anyone to do work on your home, ask if they know of a handyman in the area too. Most communities are pretty small when it comes to home improvement specialists.
The appliance repairman likely knows at least one handyman as well as a variety of other trained professionals.
Perhaps the first major online resource for all things home related, Angie’s List is now known as Angi.com. It’s an extensive database of professionals for any project in your home.
Angi provides real-time estimates, and you can even book services through the site. You’ll find pre-screened professionals as well as verified customer reviews.
Angi verifies all licensing requirements of the pros on the site, so you don’t have to. Businesses must maintain at least a three-star rating to remain on the site.
In addition to the name, the format of Angi has changed over the years. There’s a free version where you can do research, find pricing, request quotes, and even book services. A paid membership nets you discounts on services.
If you’ve ever sought out interior design ideas, you’ve likely run across Houzz. In addition to a wealth of inspiration, the site offers a database of home improvement professionals.
You can pick very specific categories for the services you require. Answer a couple of questions about the project, and local businesses will show up in a list.
You can contact them directly through the site. In fact, you can choose one or contact up to six of them for a variety of bids.
You may remember when the site was called ServiceMagic. Now the digital marketplace is making a notable name for itself as a source for local repair and home improvement specialists.
Professionals on the site have been screened, and you can read verified reviews from real customers. There are countless categories to search, so you can find anything from window washers to lawn services.
The format at Thumbtack is a bit different. The site is paid by professionals who provide bids to potential customers.
Users simply provide information about the project at hand. Thumbtack then sends that information to matching contractors who can provide the services.
The pros then send out a quote, along with a variety of information about the business, including customer testimonials.
Just like looking for a restaurant, Yelp also connects real community members with people who have reviewed the work of local professionals.
Simply put in your search requirements to read community feedback.
If you haven’t connected with your neighbors, Nextdoor offers a tool to do just that. It’s an online community for people who live in the same area.
Nextdoor breaks down neighborhoods by location, so a verified address is required to join. Once you’re in the right neighborhood, you can start or contribute to conversations about anything going on.
It’s just another way to ask a broader range of neighbors about their experience with local handymen.
It’s another resource for finding a variety of home service providers. From moving to cost estimate guides to connecting you with professionals, Porch has you covered.
Handyman or Contractor?
There’s a fine line between the titles of handyman and contractors. Actually they can overlap quite substantially. They are both skilled professionals. Usually, the defining difference comes in the licensing requirements and the size of the job.
It’s important to note that every state sets up their own requirements for licensing, so you may need to dig around a bit to find the regulations in your state.
In most states, licensing isn’t required for the relatively small jobs most handymen tackle. Often, the distinction comes from the size of the job. For example, jobs a handyman can do might be capped at $500 or $2,000.
What to Look For in a Handyman
Finding out others have faith in someone is a great starting point. It’s invaluable to know someone has had personal experience and felt good enough about it to vouch for the person.
However, before hiring him or her for the job, make sure you find out if they are the right person to handle the task.
A big part of the decision depends on what you’re having done. Most handymen are referred to as a ‘Jack of all trades’ because they are generally skilled in a variety of home repair practices.
To be sure, ask them about their experience. If they’ve never repaired a screen, it might be better to add that on to the tasks for the window cleaner or house painter.
Similarly, you’ll want to know about other skills. For example, if they’re not comfortable on a ladder, it’s probably not the person to caulk the third story window or de-moss the roof.
Physical ability may or may not play a role too. It’s not uncommon for handymen to use the job as a second career or a side gig.
While they may be fine replacing interior doors, they may not be able to wiggle through crawl spaces. Age or injury may prevent them from installing flooring, but they might be the perfect person to replace the railing on the deck.
Make sure your handyman has access to the tools he or she needs too. Some jobs require specialty tools they may not have, but know how to use. That means you may need to rent the tool if you don’t already have it.
If you take into account the tool rental, it may be more cost effective to hire someone who charges a small amount more but who has all the equipment and supplies.
Your timeline may be a factor as well. Ask how the schedule looks and when they think they’d be able to get you on the books.
If you’re flexible with the repairs you need done, it won’t matter. But if you hope to get the guest room in order before the holidays, the clock is ticking.
Similarly, if the project is an appliance repair or a safety hazard, you’ll want to get someone on it immediately, so it might be better to call in a specialized company.
Before getting too far along in the selection process, ensure your handyman has insurance. While he or she may not need to be licensed in your state, they should have insurance to cover any accidents while they work in your house.
As you probably know, anything can happen while working on the house. If he falls off a ladder, you don’t want to be held responsible.
Similarly, if she scrapes the floor while moving equipment or breaks a figurine on the shelf, insurance can cover the costs of repair and replacement.
Finally, but perhaps most importantly, make sure you’re comfortable with the person. Communication is key when working with a handyman so you need to be able to relate to them.
You don’t have to become best friends, but you need to trust them alone in your home and with your primary investment.
Do I Need a Contract with My Handyman?
Typically, no. Since handymen are typically ‘handling’ smaller jobs, they will probably charge by the hour or may charge by the visit, like a housekeeper or lawn maintenance crew.
Asking the person to send you an invoice is a good way to create a paper trail if you have any concerns. Pay by check or electronic transfer so you can track the money.
Of course, contracts are rarely a bad thing, so if either of you is more comfortable putting it in writing, do it!
It can be fairly informal, so there’s no need to get a lawyer involved. Just jot down the expectations for the scope of the job and payment. Both of you will need to sign it, and each get a copy.
Communicating with Your Handyman
Any relationship requires effective communication. While working with a handyman, make sure you’re doing your part.
Start by outlining the scope of the project. During a bathroom remodel, perhaps you’re having him do the tile work in the shower or installing a new vanity, medicine cabinet, and mirror.
If you’re going to hire a plumber and an electrician, make sure he knows so he can coordinate his work.
Similarly, outline timeline expectations. If you need it done by a certain date, talk about it. Don’t make assumptions.
Although a handyman might say it’s a three-day job, maybe he only works two days a week, so he won’t be there on consecutive days to complete it.
Talk about material selections and when supplies will be on the jobsite. Will you pick them up, or will he? Also provide a clear expectation for the finished product. Include pictures if appropriate.
Also make it clear when you expect to get a call. If it’s a vacant home, it might not matter when she comes and goes, but if it’s your home, you may need to know exactly when she will be there. If so, let them know.
If the person has questions while working through the list, make sure you’re available to answer them. If you’re not, communicate about when you will be available.
Be respectful. You have the right to expect the same in return. Your relationship with your handyman should be positive. After all, it’s a mutually-rewarding relationship.
The person is doing what they (hopefully) enjoy, and you get to check off any number of household ‘to-dos’ while going about your day.