A good handyman can solve a world of home repair problems. A handyman is a skilled worker who specializes in tackling your list of home projects. You can hire a handyman to do odd jobs and small repairs such as installing equipment and fixtures, replacing faulty parts, repairing leaky or squeaky stuff, performing general maintenance, assembling furniture, clearing out rubbish and junk, painting walls, demolishing old closets, repairing drywall, installing kitchen cabinets, handling basic carpentry or electrical work, planting shrubs, and performing other small jobs and home improvements. Unlike licensed contractors, a handyman may not have apprenticed in a specific trade or passed state exams proving their proficiency in areas such as gas plumbing or HVAC repairs. People who do handyman work may be former contractors who love working on home projects and, once retired, continue to provide simple services. Others are people who have always excelled at fixing and repairing things and have chosen to make it their profession. Some handymen work freelance, while others are full-time employees of a handyman company.
The cost to hire a local handyman typically depends on their hourly rate, the scope of your home project, your zip code or location, and any materials or parts required. A handyman may charge one hourly rate, regardless of project type, or may charge varying hourly rates based on how dirty, dangerous or complex the project will be. For some common home projects, a handyman can offer a flat rate based on their estimate of how long the job usually take. Factors that might affect an hourly rate are geographic location and skill level of the handyman. In regions with a high cost of living, a handyman must charge more per hour than in an area with a lower cost of living. Insurance, vehicle upkeep and other business overhead considerations all factor into this rate. The materials needed to complete your job will also impact your cost. Many handymen travel with the typical nuts, bolts, nails and screws needed for minor home repairs, and include the minimal cost for these small parts in their hourly rate. However, if your home repair requires costly parts, such as new blades for your ceiling fan, the handyman will bill those costs to you.
Hiring a handyman is a great way to save money in the long run, because when you address minor home problems before they get worse, you can prevent a pricey visit from a licensed contractor later on. For example, having a handyman repair a leaky faucet for under $100 in labor costs saves you from paying thousands of dollars to a flooring contractor for a new floor because an unchecked leak has destroyed your subfloor. In addition to disaster prevention, a handyman can ease your stress if you're capable of taking on home repairs but just don't have the time for an ever-growing list of chores.
If you're ready to get all those annoying to-dos checked off once and for all, here are the factors that affect the average cost of hiring a handyman.
Common jobs for a handyman include replacing a ceiling fan, painting a front door or installing garbage disposals. Because the handyman performs these tasks so often, they should be able to easily estimate how long the job will take them and how complex the work will be, and may offer a flat rate regardless of how much time the job actually takes. Most handymen will offer free quotes or cost estimates and charge an hourly rate for nonstandard jobs. Here are examples of average flat-rate pricing for common handyman services in Texas:
Hourly rates can vary depending on the technical skill required for a job. Some services, for example, may have a higher average hourly rate ($75-$80) for plumbing-related work than for patching a simple drywall crack ($50) because working with plumbing takes a higher level of expertise. Other handymen may have one set hourly rate, regardless of the task. There's no right or wrong way for a handyman to charge for their service; just make sure you understand how your handyman charges for the jobs you need to have done before work begins. Having a simple written contract in place can also prevent any miscommunication about work to be done and pay rate.
Because the handyman must come to you to do the work required, excessive travel time, mileage and gas can all affect handyman labor costs. If you live in a remote location that is hard to find or is distant from the handyman's other jobs, that can factor into pricing as well.
Charges for extra distance or travel time can be either a flat fee (e.g., $10) or a per-mile charge for every mile beyond a certain distance from the handyman's usual service area. For example, one handyman might charge a travel fee of $10 anytime they drive more than 30 minutes to a customer's house. Another handyman might charge 50 cents per mile anytime they drive farther than 25 miles to reach their client's house. A handyman should let you know ahead of time if a travel fee will apply to your services.
Often, a handyman will have universal supplies on hand. These can include nails, screws, nuts and bolts, and other basic building supplies. If your project requires special supplies, many will not bill per hour for shopping time, as long as the supplies are easy to get from a nearby hardware store or other usual sources. Be sure to describe your job and the materials needed clearly so the handyman understands the details of the job before arriving at your house. If you're not familiar with the job or the parts, send a photo of the project to help the handyman see what will be needed. When your project requires additional supplies, the purchase of job materials can be handled in several ways:
A handyman may charge a minimum fee for their services to ensure that they meet their business operating expenses every time they accept a job. The minimum service fee also helps the handyman account for the time and effort it takes for them to book a client, arrive at a job site and set up to work.
If the handyman charges an hourly rate, the minimum service fee is usually the equivalent of a minimum number of hours, regardless of how small the job is. For example, if the handyman's standard hourly fee is $50 and it only takes them one hour to clean out your gutters but they have a minimum service fee of two hours, you will be charged $100. Ask the pro about any minimum service fees, and bundle together smaller jobs to maximize the handyman's time and your money.
A handyman is often a freelancer or independent contractor. Due to the smaller scale of a freelance operation, the independent contractor may have lower overhead costs than a business owner who employs full-time workers to provide handyman services. A business owner with employees must pay for workers' compensation coverage; fees for being licensed, insured and bonded; marketing services; and purchase and maintenance for a website or company truck. This can mean a business owner offers greater protections in case of injury or accident, but they may charge higher hourly or fixed rates. If you are working with an independent contractor and prefer your handyman to have liability insurance, always be sure to ask before scheduling their services.
Hiring a handyman is an affordable solution for most home repairs, but sometimes you need to hire a contractor. You may need a more experienced pro to handle the job for safety reasons, or your state's law requires you to hire a licensed contractor for the type of work you need done. In some states a financial threshold dictates when you must hire a licensed contractor. For example, in California, the California State License Board (CSLB) requires that for any construction project in excess of $500, you must hire a contractor who is licensed in that trade by the CSLB. Always research your state and local laws before hiring a handyman for larger projects. Specific trades that may require a licensed contractor in your state can include HVAC work, plumbing projects, roofing installation or major roofing repairs, electrical installation and repair, concrete and other masonry work, and flooring.
If your state requires licensed contractors to perform certain types of work, you may not be able to receive permits for construction or pass code inspection for your remodel unless you work with a licensed contractor. Being up to code matters not only if you want to sell your home in the future, but also if you want your homeowners insurance policy to cover you in case of an accident. Most insurance providers will not pay for damages that result from unlicensed work. Even if you don't care about future home sales or insurance coverage, it's important to work with an expert when their trade — such as gas, sewage, or electricity — could directly affect the safety of your family.
When hiring a great handyman, try to find someone you can develop an ongoing relationship with. It's great to have a skilled handyman you can trust to repair or upgrade things at your house as needed. Whether you lack the skills or the free time to make progress on your to-do list, a great handyman makes your home better. When looking for the right person for the job, here is a basic checklist:
Although hiring a handyman is usually less expensive than hiring a licensed contractor, it still costs money. Here are some cost-saving strategies that allow you to hire the help you need while also reducing your financial output.
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