Angie's List: Tips for a good handyman

Most of us have busy lives. That can mean not having the time to take care of those nagging little repairs or home improvement projects.

A handyman is usually skilled in a lot of different areas, and generally charges less than a specialized tradesman. Before you pick up the phone, you need a game plan.

When routine maintenance and repair reaches the point where you can no longer do-it-yourself, it might be time to call in an expert.

Angie Hicks, Angie's List, explains a good tip to do before you start any home projects, "If you are considering tackling a home improvement project the first things consumers should do is a full assessment of your house. Don't think about your budget, walk around your house like you are going to buy it. Write down everything you see. Prioritize the list and lay your budget against it, that way you can avoid surprises."

If your budget is tight, and the projects aren't daunting, a handyman could be the most efficient and inexpensive choice.

Sean McGill, McGill Handyman Services, describes what some of the common requests are that they receive, "The most common requests are things such as home maintenance and small repairs such as cutter cleaning and doing light fixtures and faucet fixtures replacements. Other things can be like hanging blinds or pictures or small stuff like that."

Hicks explains an easy way to save some money with using a handyman, “A handyman will either charge by the hour or by the job. The key here: time is money! Be organized. Have a list of items that you want the handyman to tackle and have the area ready. So when the handyman arrives, he/she can get right to work."

How much you spend usually depends on what works needs to done.

McGill explains how they usually charge the customers, "Generally the way we charge for smaller projects where people have a lot of different things involved in their house that they are wanting done we'll just go off of an hourly rate which is about $65-$85 an hour and generally charge a trip charge. Other times if it's a larger project requiring multiple hours on the job we'll just charge it out by the complete job to get it done."

While a handyman is a great option, remember, it's not the only option.

Hicks explains other options, "When trying to determine who you should hire for a particular job, consider the task. 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.”

When you find a good handyman, keep him. A handyman can become a good resource for you, especially if you use them regularly. They will come to know your house and can help identify issues before they become costly problems.

Your home is your biggest asset, so it's important to keep it in good shape. But too many of us don't pay attention to small things that will save us money down the road. Ignoring a needed repair doesn't do anything but help cause more damage and that means a bigger bill.

A handyman - or handywoman - service can be a great choice for homeowners who need help with smaller jobs, or for those who have a variety of projects - unlike a general contractor, who is generally better for coordinating larger projects that involve multiple types of tradespeople.

Benefits of hiring a handyman:
• Typically skilled in many areas and can perform multiple projects in one visit.
• Tend to have less overhead than a contractor since they typically don't hire employees and require less specialized equipment - which means less cost to you.

Angie's List Tips for Hiring a Handyman :
• Make a list: Have this list on hand on what's important to you when you call to make an appointment. Talk through your list with the handyman or contractor. Although handymen are generally considered jacks-of-all-trades, most will have particular areas of expertise. Before hiring, make sure they have all the skills necessary to complete the work to your satisfaction.
Does the work require a licensed professional? Every state/city varies when it comes to whether a handyman requires a license. If a license is not required for a handyman, but the locality requires it for plumbers or electricians, then handymen either need to be licensed for those trades or they must subcontract that part of the job to a licensed tradesperson.
• Get three estimates: Talk to at least three different handymen. Get estimates on price and how long it will take to complete your list of projects. Most handymen will provide free estimates and depending on the length of the wish list, will break down labor costs for each item on the list. That way you can pick and choose which items you want done within their prioritized list. Ask for and check references.
• Know what's included in the price: Ask if they charge a flat rate or by the hour. Are they charging you a trip fee? Can you purchase the supplies yourself, rather than paying for the handyman's drive time to-and-from the home improvement store?
• Prepare ahead of time: Prepping your home for the handyman visit may save you money - especially if the handyman charges by the hour. For example, if there's an issue with your sink, remove all the items from underneath it.
• When you find a good handyman, keep him! A handyman can become a good resource for you, especially if you use him/her regularly. He/she will come to know your house and can help identify issues before they become costly problems. Keep the contact number in your cell phone.

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