At Your Service—Hiring a Helping Hand for Your Home Improvements

June 2016 View more

NMAG0616_Finance_iStock_000035217894_Large_800pxAre there projects around your house that you don’t have the expertise to complete? Has your to-do list become more than you can handle in a reasonable amount of time? If so, you may want to consider enlisting the help of a handyman. Hiring a reliable helping hand for home improvement projects can help you check projects off your list quickly with the added piece of mind that they have been completed correctly.

A handyman (or handywoman) is a jack-of-all-trades, skilled at completing a variety of home repairs and projects. According to Angie’s List, the term handyman is loosely defined. Some handymen are self-taught, while others have formal training in aspects of construction and home repair. Some specialize in a few types of home maintenance, such as painting, carpentry or tiling, while others have additional expertise in plumbing and electrical. Because many of them charge by the hour, a homeowner can save time and money by hiring one person to tackle a variety of projects in potentially just one visit.

When to hire a helping hand

Handy helpers are best suited for small types of home repair work—things you would typically put on a honey-do list. Ideal projects include: minor plumbing tasks, caulking, repairing and finishing decks, cleaning gutters, minor home exterior repairs, small painting jobs, hanging window treatments, pictures and mirrors, and installing light fixtures.

The experts recommend that before you begin your search for extra help, make a list of the tasks around the house that you would like completed. That way, when you start reaching out to people, they can let you know if they are able to handle all of your specific needs.

Finding the right person

As with anyone you hire to work on your home, you need to do your research to find the right person. Start by asking friends and neighbors for referrals. Find out if the person was prompt, did quality work and lived up to expectations. While nothing beats a glowing personal reference, searching online can also give you a large list of reputable names. is a website that provides subscribers with detailed information and reviews about service providers. You can also search on Yelp or the Better Business Bureau ( websites for free to find customer reviews, complaints and reports. Neighborhood newsletters, church bulletins and mailers can also give you a list of names to start your search. If you have recently purchased a home, check to see if your real estate agent has any recommendations as well.

Getting estimates and references

When contacting potential service providers, ask how many years of experience they have and what is their area of specialization. Ask for at least three references from past clients. Check to make sure they have liability insurance. Ask if they bill by the hour or by the job. Determine how soon the work will be started, when it will most likely be finished, and the time frame as to when he or she expects to be on the job. Finally, ask if their work is guaranteed.

Most experts recommend getting quotes from at least three different service providers. Don’t automatically choose the person with the lowest quote unless you are comfortable with the referrals you received and references you’ve checked.

Get it in writing

Once you have decided who you are going to hire, be sure to get your agreement in writing. Outline the job details, costs and payment schedule. Be clear about the times you expect the work to be started and completed. If the work is guaranteed, which it should be, make sure you get that in writing, too.