How to Determine Handyman Prices

How to Determine Handyman Prices

Ensure competitive pricing for your home improvement professional

By Stevie Donald

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A handyman or handywoman is defined by his or her skills. Some may be specialty contractors such as carpenters or electricians in between jobs, others offer a range of maintenance services from appliance repair to gutter-cleaning. Handyman prices are determined by several factors including the type of services offered, how well-established the business is, and the geographic location. While some handymen work by the hour, others will give you an estimate. In both cases, you should get bids from several handymen for your project to compare prices.

  • What You Need to Know
  • Expect to pay more for a handyman who is insured, has any required state or local licenses and is doing skilled work.
  • While a low hourly fee can be fine for cleaning gutters and raking leaves, the charge for jobs requiring more experience and skill, such as electrical work or installing a tile floor, may understandably be higher.
  • Make up your "to do" list before calling handymen for prices so each estimate you get is based on exactly the same work.
Find Out How Much Your Home Improvement Project Will Cost

Step 1:

Ask friends and neighbors for references to a handyman who can handle your project. Ask them what they paid, how long the job took and how happy they are with the results.

Step 2:

Call at least three handymen for written estimates. Ask them how they charge for the job. Many handymen and handyman firms who work by the hour have a higher charge for the first hour, with a lower rate for subsequent hours. Others may give you a flat fee for the job.

Step 3:

Find out if they have a minimum charge and if they will charge you for trips to get materials. Tell them your budget upfront. Get everything in writing, including both projected labor and materials costs.

Step 4:

Make sure that at the very least, each handyman has liability insurance. A dropped tool or improperly connected water line can result in an extremely costly repair.

Step 5:

Ask lots of questions about how they will approach your job, and keep a note of the responses. One handyman may quote you less for a painting job because he is not including a coat of primer, while another is quoting the job on the basis of more thorough work.

Step 6:

Don't choose a handyman on the basis of cost alone. The Federal Trade Commission suggests questioning price discrepancies -- you may find that one bid includes materials, while another doesn't. While the lowest-priced handyman may do an excellent job for little money because he desperately needs the work, he could also be planning on cutting corners and doing a sub-standard job.

  • Tips & Warnings
  • Another place to ask for references to a good handyman is to inquire at a hardware store or building supplier; businesses won't usually risk their reputation by recommending somebody unreliable and will only recommend people they know well.
  • Ask if you can save money by doing any of the work yourself or by purchasing all the materials to save the handyman a trip.
  • Avoid the temptation to save money by hiring an unlicensed handyman for any work that may require a permit. If you're not sure whether the work you're having done needs a permit, check with your building code department first.

About the Author

Stevie Donald is a regular contributor to DexKnows. She has been a painting contractor since 1979.

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