How to Find an Honest Handyman

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If you are not fortunate enough to have the skills or time to take care of home repairs yourself, the next best option is an honest, reliable handyman. A trustworthy handyman with general knowledge can become a real asset in maintaining your home and improving its value, as well as freeing up valuable time for you. Here are some tips for finding an honest handyman you can trust with the care of your home.

  • Ask friends and neighbors for recommendations. A personal recommendation from someone you trust is the best way to find an honest handyman. Be sure to ask how long they have worked with the handyman, what kinds of projects they have done, and any other specifics you are concerned about (i.e., neatness, timeliness, personality, etc.).

  • Check your local building center/hardware store. Most larger building centers have a bulletin board where contractors and handymen can advertise their services. Ask a knowledgeable clerk if he has suggestions or feedback on any handymen you are considering. When you call the handyman, be sure to ask for phone numbers of current customers who are willing to offer a recommendation.

  • Look through your local newspaper's classified ads, online classifieds such as Craigslist and directory websites specializing in handymen and contractors (See Resources). Make note of any specifics in the handyman's ad: hourly rate, location, specializations, etc. Once again, ask for references and check them thoroughly, asking specific and detailed questions about the issues that are most important to you.

  • Verify the handyman's contractor license number, if he has one. Depending on state regulations, handymen may or may not be required to carry a contractor's license. Check the website listed below (See Resources) for your state's contractor licensing requirements and how to verify contractor licenses. Whether required or not, a contractor's license is an extra measure of security for you. A valid license ensures the engages in solid business practices, is free of complaints and keeps an address on file. If not licensed, verify that the handyman has a general liability insurance policy which will cover any damages to your home resulting from the work performed.

Tips & Warnings

  • Be proactive in searching for a handyman; don't wait for a major emergency. If possible try two to three handymen out on different small projects. If the project is extensive or complicated, get three bids. In addition to giving you an idea of cost, it will also give you an idea of how each contractor runs their business and how they handle questions and negotiation. Don't automatically choose the lowest bid. Strong positive references and your own comfort level should carry more weight than low price in the final decision. Effective communication is key to finding the right handyman. Ask for a written estimate before the work begins and be sure that you understand what will be done and what you are paying for. If a handyman has a problem with this, you should probably look for another candidate.

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