As a Louisville Home Inspector I am often asked, should I hire a handyman or should I hire a contractor. The decision often comes down to the size and scope of the job and the time frame being considered.
A handyman may be the right service provider to call when repair or installation issues are smaller, and could be handled by a competent do-it-yourselfer. Some of these projects might include installing a ceiling-fan, replacing a light fixture or faucet, or repairing a broken window.
Various contractors generally carry a license, granted after they pass a competency test required by the state or at the local (city or county) level. They are expected to understand the procedures necessary to allow there their work to pass a building code inspection. Contractors also carry insurance for the protection of their workers and the homeowner.
Depending on the repair problem, the contractor that might be needed coud be an electrician, plumber or HVAC professional. These tradespeople can perform work such as replacing pipes, adding electrical circuits; adding ductwork or repairing heating systems.
Combining several small projects together for a hanyman to complete can whittle down the to-do list, as well as give the homeowner a chance to see the quality of the work. If the craftsmanship is there, more challenging assignments can follow.
There is not shortage of hanymen willing to provide an estimate or tackle a small job, and there are just as many ways to find them. Referrals are a good place to start, using recommendations from friends, relatives or neighbors. In addition to personal referrals, there are a number of referral sites available on the internet, in which homeowners report on their experiences with handymen and other workers.
The homeowner’s research doesn’t end with a referral name and number, however. Once the initial call is made, the handyman should be able and willing to provide names of several satisfied customers. The homeowner can follow-up and perform due diligence, checking to make sure the hanyman’s work lives up to his or her reputation. Each reference should be checked with a phone call. In addition, a call to the Better Business Bureau will determine if any complaints have been filed.
A Louisville home inspector cannot work on a home that he has inspected unless it has been at least two years since the inspection.
Unlike contractors, who generally name their price upfront, handymen will usually bill for the materials they use and the time they spend–typically at around $40 to $70 an hour. Some will quote the cost for an entire job. Others may prefer to work on an hourly basis. Since there is not way to know for sure how long a project may take, it may be wise to agree upon a maximum number of hours or dollar amount per job to keep cost under control.