Angie's List: Hire a handyman

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If you don't have time to tackle the small repairs around your home, you could hire a handyman to help.

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.

"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," said Angie Hicks, Angie's List founder.

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.

"The most common requests are things such as home maintenance and small repairs such as gutter cleaning and doing light fixtures and faucet fixtures replacement," said Sean McGill, McGill Handyman Services.

A handyman is typically skilled in many areas and can perform multiple projects in one visit. He or she tends to have less overhead than a contractor since there are no other employees, and less specialized equipment is required - which means less cost to you.

Have a list of items that you want the handyman or handywoman to tackle. That way, he or she will know how to best price out your needs.

When you're hiring a handyman, make sure you get three estimates; know what's included in the price; and ask if they'll supply the materials or if you're expected to. Another thing to ask about is whether they're insured; if they're not, you could be liable in case of an accident.

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.