How to Find a Handyman: Tips for Happy Home Rrepairs

The gutters are clogged with frozen leaves, the bathroom faucet leaks, the front door sticks and you either can’t or won’t fix them yourself.

You need a handyman.

Yes, there are people out there who will come to your house and do odd jobs. But you have to choose them as carefully as you would choose someone to add a room.

In general, a handyman does not need a license to perform small repair jobs but does need one for new installations or alterations in a structure. A handyman Tigard can fix a leaky faucet, replace old gutters, paint and do other minor repairs and cosmetic work without a license or permit. But he can’t install a ceiling fan, replace a water heater, run a new electrical circuit or replace a faucet without one.

A handyman will often go into a house to fix something and say, ‘Hey, I can fix your hot water tank for you, too.’ When they do that, they need a license.’

Licensing requirements vary depending on the community. And there are contractors who will claim they are licensed when they are not.

Why bother? If the work requires a permit, then it requires an inspection by a city inspector, who will make sure it was done according to code. That’s a safeguard for a homeowner.

The best way to find somebody is still by word of mouth. It’s not by advertising. Find neighbors who’ve had construction work done.

There’s been a lot of fraud this year. Senior citizens are often the people victimized by shady repair people who either talk them into unnecessary work or walk away with the job undone or poorly done.

By interviewing them, asking them questions, listening to what they’re saying, I can have a feel for who’s good or not. I ask for referrals, talk about jobs I want done. I’m pretty precise. Some people have this vacant look. I know, not only do they not understand what I’m saying, but they don’t care.

Don’t be surprised if the handyman you choose doesn’t choose you.

Why, if there’s a demand for handyman services, are there so few handymen? It’s not an easy business to run successfully. You have to be meticulous about scheduling and bookkeeping to survive doing jobs that pay only a few dollars each.

For that reason, there are far more remodeling contractors than there are handymen, and many of the people who advertise themselves as handymen are actually remodeling contractors who do odd jobs on the side.

Remodeling is more of a glamorous, creative process. Doing repairs is more like piddling around. I enjoy piddling around.

They get some unusual requests. Lower once climbed atop a slippery slate roof and cleaned it for a woman who likes things tidy, top to bottom.

Ask who is actually going to do the work. Some handymen work alone. Others use subcontractors when needed. There’s nothing wrong with subcontractors, but it’s best to know who’s who, especially when they’re working in your house.

If you’re old, call a senior citizens center near you before hiring a handyman. The centers may be able to refer you to a government-funded program that provides minor home repairs free to senior citizens.

In addition to the need for handymen, there’s a need for better education of homeowners in how to maintain a house.

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