Merriam-Webster defines handyman as one who is inventive or innovative in solving maintenance or repair problems. However, in the world of home improvement, a handyman is so much more than that. The handyman is a jack-of-all-trades, managing to do things and fix items that others can’t or won’t. Whether it’s renovations or new construction, a handyman is always the right choice as a hire because of the open nature of what he or she can do. For some homeowners, the handyman serves the role of the fallback person, someone who has done it before and whose opinion is valued. For others, the role of the handyman in home improvement is massively undervalued.
Why handymen are so crucial to home improvement stems from how useful they are at what they do. In most physically demanding fields, one values experience over qualifications. The reasoning is that if someone has done a task (or seen a job completed), then he or she should know how to go about completing the task a second or third time. Handymen that are in the field for a few years can usually perform any odd-job that the homeowner requires during a home improvement project.
Handymen or Contractors?
The complexity of the job determines whether a homeowner needs a contractor or a handyman. Money Crashers mentions that a handyman might be better suited for less complex tasks while a contractor might work for functions that are complicated. That said, a contractor tends to cost a lot more than a handyman. While handymen are usually innovative in the ways they solve problems, contractors typically follow a strict guideline of how they want work to be done, which may incur more cost to the homeowner.
The benefit of the handyman is that the homeowner has access to someone who can efficiently perform a minor home improvement task for a fraction of the cost of a contractor. The downside is, because of the nature of the job, handymen can be challenging to rely on. There is no licensing board for handymen, and no guarantee that the work done will be of a particular standard. However, there are ways for a homeowner to guarantee that they get the most out of the handymen they hire.
Choosing a Good Handymen
Finding a dependable, reliable handyman is a tricky business, but one that a homeowner should invest in. A long-term handyman ensures that a professional relationship forms between the homeowner and the jack-of-all-trades. A strong working relationship may even lead to preferential rates from the handyman. The Balance suggests looking on Google or Yelp for a handyman, but by far, the most reliable method of finding a handyman is through direct referral.
Homeowners usually are in the market for good handymen, especially since things go wrong at the most inopportune time. A handyman that has proven himself or herself a dependable sort to other homeowners will already have a reputation. The downside of handymen like this is that they are always in demand and usually don’t take on new customers. If a homeowner can’t locate a handyman through word-of-mouth, then the Internet is the next stop.
Do Some Background Checks
A handyman is in the unique position of having unfettered access to a homeowner’s property. To ensure that one’s home is safe, it’s ideal to ask for a few references to ensure the professionalism of the handyman in question. Some handymen prefer not to give out the names of their past employers, either because of difficult clients or because of other issues. Checking the name of the potential handyman at the local police station is also an option available to homeowners.
If there is an association of handymen within an area, asking them about the potential hire is another way a homeowner can check up on the legitimacy of their handyman. In many cases, it might be unwarranted, but it is far better to be safe than sorry in situations regarding one’s home.
Agree on Completion Time
Once a handyman is selected, the homeowner has the option to pitch the job to them and determine initial and final costs and how long the job may take to complete. For small tasks, a weekend is the standard time for completion, but for more substantial tasks, possibly a week or two. It is essential to set a firm completion date for completion of work as well as a set of milestones to show progress on the job as it proceeds.
Payment for Work Done
Lifehacker mentions that professional handymen shouldn’t receive payment up front, and the homeowner should wait for the completion of the job to disburse the full amount. While this sounds like a good idea in practice, some handymen require a down payment to source materials. Depending on how much a homeowner trusts their hired help, he or she might opt to offer them a minor down payment at the start of the job to ease things over. If the handyman turns out to be of high quality, this will count towards them accepting the homeowner as a long-term client.
Long-Term Handymen are Rare
The nature of the job means that handymen tend to move about a lot. If a homeowner locates a handyman that is dependable, reliable, and who can be trusted, then the prevailing wisdom is to hold onto such a professional. The handyman is an essential part of home improvement but finding one that is worth the effort can be a long process littered with many failures. With each new handyman a homeowner hires, he or she gets closer to finding the perfect jack-of-all-trades.