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Q & A

Answers to commonly asked questions from the experts on Thumbtack.

What is house sitting?

A house sitter watches your house while you are away for work or vacation, or if you have to be away for an extended period. House sitters can also provide pet-sitting services, staying in your home and caring for your pet while you are away. The house sitter can say overnight in your home while you’re gone, or stop by once a day to ensure everything is in order if your pet doesn’t need overnight supervision. Reptiles and most cats are just fine with daily visits and feeding.

House sitting provides major advantages to the homeowner. A regular presence in your house deters break-ins and theft. Home safety issues such as water leaks get noticed and dealt with right away, so you don’t come home to big problems. A house sitter can bring in your mail daily, care for your houseplants, and provide home safety and peace of mind.

How much does a handyman charge?

Minimum rates for handyman jobs typically range from $60-$100. Pricing will depend on skill and experience required for the job, as well as regional labor rates. Here are a few examples of average handyman flat rates:

  • Attic ladder replacement: $150.
  • Toilet replacement: $75.
  • Ceiling fan and light fixtures: $75.
  • Faucet replacement: $125.
  • Garbage disposal: $75.

A handyman performs general maintenance and repairs for residential and commercial properties. A handyman may charge a flat fee for standard services that take a predictable amount of time, such as installing a new appliance, as well as an hourly rate for larger projects such as digging out and replacing a rotted fence post. A cost-saving strategy when hiring a handyman is to bundle all the tasks you want them to do into one visit to make the most of any minimum service fees.

Is it worth it to hire a professional to mow your lawn?

Although hiring a lawn care company is more expensive than doing it yourself, it can be well worth the money. For starters, it saves you time and equipment maintenance, which may be justifiable financially. It also creates a more professional appearance. Plus, a pro can spot problems before they occur. This can save you money on expensive reseeding, aeration and other types of lawn repair down the road.

Contact the best lawn mowing professionals near you to start getting free estimates.

What’s the best way to set up a consultation or an appointment with a house cleaner during the COVID-19 pandemic?

The best way to set up a consultation with a house cleaner during the COVID-19 pandemic is by using virtual, online tools. Start by performing an online search for local house cleaners. Message them to set up either a phone call or video call to perform a consultation. During this call, they can give you recommendations and may be able to estimate the cost of their services. Be sure to discuss whether they accept virtual payments and any precautions they can take to perform the job safely.

Are there ways to be safe if I hire a house cleaner when social distancing?

If you hire a house cleaner to clean the inside of your home, do not make physical contact. Stay at least 6 feet apart at all times, sanitize any surfaces after cleaning and wash your hands thoroughly. Exchange all payments digitally instead of with cash. When contacting a house cleaner, put a plan in place to ensure everyone's safety.

How can I find out if a house cleaner is considered an essential COVID-19 service provider?

A house cleaner is generally not considered an essential service sector during the coronavirus pandemic. To find out which services are considered essential, visit your city and state government, and read their guidelines. A national list of essential service providers can be found on CISA’s Identifying Critical Infrastructure During COVID-19 site. This webpage lists 16 different infrastructure sectors considered to be essential. However, not all jurisdictions follow CISA’s definitions of critical infrastructure.

Can I use digital payments to pay for house cleaning?

Not only do many house cleaners accept digital payments through platforms like Zelle, PayPal, Square Cash, Google Pay, Venmo and more, but this may become more common as the COVID-19 pandemic pushes more service workers to digitize. This means you can pay your house cleaner without making physical contact or handling money. 

If cleaning is absolutely essential during the current crisis, consult with the house cleaner beforehand to ensure a safe monetary transaction that complies with current government guidelines and recommendations for social distancing.

What does a handyman do?

A handyman is a skilled laborer who provides basic home repairs. Anyone can call themselves a handyman, although most who do so are skilled with repairs and home projects. Reading reviews is a good way to determine their fitness for your job. The tasks a handyman can perform include assembling furniture, painting interiors and exteriors, repairing fences, repairing broken doors or replacing trim, hanging lights, hooking up appliances, and much more. Handymen may have flat fees for certain services, or charge an hourly rate. Handyman rates are often lower than those of a contractor, as they don’t have the same specialization. Some states have no limit on the work a handyman can perform, while others do. For example, California’s Building and Professions Code section 7048 (small operations) permits handymen to provide work similar to that of a contractor (floor installation, painting, etc.) provided the total cost of labor and materials does not exceed $500. A handyman is a great resource for minor home repairs at a lower cost than a licensed contractor, but for more complex projects, it pays to hire a specialized contractor. Fore more, check out our tips for smart hiring on Thumbtack.

How do I find a reliable house sitter?

House sitting can help keep your home safe and well cared for so you can be worry-free while you’re away for work or play. There are several steps you can take to make sure you hire a trustworthy house sitter and do your part to be a responsible host. One of the best ways to ensure a safe home is to hire a professional house sitter. Here are some key points to look for when hiring a house sitter:

  • Reviews and referrals: When searching for a house sitter, always read reviews. Previous experiences will indicate how the house sitter will care for your home while you’re away.
  • Contract: Sign a clearly written contract outlining services to be provided (e.g., mail in each day by 5 p.m.), the daily rate you are paying, and how long the services will be provided. You can also include any agreed-upon house rules in the written contract.
  • Your part: Leave important phone numbers (vet, emergency contact, etc.) and information on where to find emergency items like the circuit breaker and the fire extinguisher, and have a credit card on file with the veterinarian in case of emergencies if the house sitter is watching your pets.

For more, check out our tips for smart hiring on Thumbtack.

Can a handyman do plumbing?

In some states, a handyman can provide plumbing services, but it may be in your best interest to call a plumber, particularly for issues more major than unclogging a drain or attaching a new sink. Hiring a plumber is important because mishandling your water and gas lines has the potential to do great damage to your home, your family’s health, or even the safety of your neighborhood. A handyman is not legally required to have any training or licensing in plumbing matters, while a licensed plumber has undergone years of education and on-the-job training. In some cases, homeowners insurance won’t cover damage caused by plumbing repair done by an unlicensed handyman.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, most plumbers learn their trade through a four- or five-year apprenticeship with 2,000 hours of paid on-the-job training. They also receive classroom education including “safety, local plumbing codes and regulations, and blueprint reading. They also study mathematics, applied physics, and chemistry. After completing an apprenticeship program, plumbers … are considered to be journey workers, qualifying them to perform duties on their own,” according to the DOL. Licensed plumbers should do continuing education to keep abreast of safety and technology changes. Poor plumbing can lead to sewage backups, a flooded home or even natural gas leaks, so it’s best to leave it in the hands of a specialized professional.

Reviews for Ashburn household services
Nancy S.
Christopher was so easy to work with. We accomplished many household finishings, that have made my life so much easier. Both of his supportive workers were equal in integrity.
Miller Integrity Construction, LLCMiller Integrity Construction, LLC
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Why you should hire a home improvement professional

Remodeling your bathroom, kitchen or any other area in your house is a great way to upgrade your home. However, like any home improvement project, the task can feel overwhelming. Fortunately, hiring the right professional can ensure a hassle-free, low-stress project, preventing your home remodel from becoming a DIY nightmare. Search for a local contractor or remodeling company to assist you with your project. Compare the top-rated home improvement professionals near you below to find the perfect fit, and schedule an appointment or consultation.

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