6 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Handyman

Originally Published on June 11, 2014 by Andrea Davis
Updated on October 9th, 2020
via HomeAdvisor & Redfin

Note: RUSSIAN HILL HANDYMAN Co. is not a part of HomeAdvisor’s network of contractors, but under an informal publishing arrangement with Redfin, we’ve agreed to re-post this piece from HomeAdvisor’s blog, because we think it’s good advice to offer our potential customers on how to vet a handyman-for-hire.

With the various projects you might have going on around the house, it may be faster to hire a handyman (or woman!) rather than spending hours on the weekends doing them all yourself. A handyman is a jack of all trades when it comes to home repairs and maintenance around your home, usually for less money than a specialist such as a plumber and electrician. But before you bring someone into your home, it’s important to find the right person. You don’t want a handyman who swindles you or fixes everything incorrectly to where you have to go back and have another professional redo the work for more money. Consider posing these questions to three or four handyman services before choosing one:

hiring a handyman
Stock Photo via Redfin – unless requested in advance, we will not wear a hard hat to your home or business.

1. Are you licensed? Many states have processes by which handymen can become certified in their field of expertise, whether it’s as a handyman or a contractor. Ask each potential handyman if he is certified, and see a copy of that license before having one of them proceed with the work.

2. Do you have past clients as references? If this handyman has been in their field for a while, other homeowners can vouch for the work he has done. Ask to speak to some past clients. If the person you are considering is unwilling to provide contact information, chances are he or she hasn’t done good work in the past. You can also check on the Internet for reviews.

3. Can you provide a quote ahead of time? Handymen should be able to tell you what they’ll charge by the hour or the job. Provide them with a list of the things you’ll need done to help with this process. This will be especially useful when comparing more than one handyman service. See if you can get the estimate in writing as part of a contract.

4. Do you have liability insurance? If the handyman is injured on the job, you don’t want to be liable for those injuries. Check to make sure they have liability insurance. Handyman services should have insurance in place to protect them in case they’re injured on the job, just as with construction workers or contractors on build sites. It protects them, and it keeps you safe from legal charges down the road.

5. Is your work guaranteed? Ask the handyman if he guarantees his work. That is, if something is wrong, will he come back and redo it? You might have to get a guarantee in writing, but good handyman services will usually do this to show they’re serious about their work.

6. Will this be an individual or team job? Some jobs will require the work of an individual handyman, while others might require a few people coming into your home to do the job. This is something you need to be aware of ahead of time, as it could affect price and foot traffic in your home. It’s also probably good to ask if the handyman will be on site while the team is there.  Sometimes contractors will bring in workers but not be on site at all during the work, which can lead to problems.

About Andrea Davis and HomeAdvisor

Andrea Davis works for HomeAdvisor, which helps homeowners find the right home improvement professionals for their home projects at the right price.

Homeowners can use HomeAdvisor Reviews to see what past customers have to say about each professional, and can calculate average local and national costs for a variety of home projects using Cost Guides. Access to all information and features is free for homeowners.


Prepping Your Home for Sale? Why You Should Hire a Handyman

by Emily Huddleston

As you get ready to sell your home, you may discover the need to make a few (or even many) repairs and updates – from touching up paint on walls and replacing hardware to fixing your mailbox or repairing drywall. Sure, there will be home repair projects you can easily complete yourself, but what if you don’t have the time with everything else going on or a repair project is over your head? That’s where hiring a handyman comes in.

Why should I hire a handyman?

Buyers want a house that looks new – no nicks or scuffs on the walls, fresh paint, a fence in good condition, and doors and windows that are free of drafts and leaks. Over time, you may not realize that some of the small damages in your house can add up to an overall impression of neglect. Keeping up with general maintenance and care of your home, such as cleaning the gutters, freshening the paint, and fixing overall wear and tear can help you maintain, if not increase your home value each year. By contrast, not fixing things around the home can reduce your home’s sale value by about 10%.

Here’s where a handyman can help. A handyman is a jack of all trades, capable of many different kinds of home repairs. Some may have plumbing and electrical licenses and certifications, while others are specialists in home carpentry, tile replacement, or laying carpet. Many handyman services offer a wide variety of skills and can complete a multitude of different projects around the house.

A handyman can also find items in the home that you may not realize need repair – anything from faulty or leaking ductwork in your HVAC system to a crack in the foundation.

Also, many homebuyers will conduct their own home inspection before closing on the house, and often, if there are things that need to be fixed, the buyer may ask for concessions or reduce their offer to offset the costs of fixing these things themselves. When you hire a handyman to complete any home improvement project before you sell your home, you can reduce the chances of having concessions or missing out on a potential deal. 

Projects your handyman can complete

Your handyman service can complete many different types of projects. Some common ones include:

  • Fixing a broken garbage disposal
  • Repairing or calibrating an HVAC thermostat
  • Replacing a mailbox
  • Anchoring or installing shelves
  • Painting walls
  • Applying wallpaper
  • Removing wallpaper
  • Adding locks to the interior or exterior doors
  • Repairing drywall
  • Replacing tile or carpet
  • Cleaning gutters
  • Power washing brick or siding
  • Fixing cracks in stucco exteriors
  • Installing an exterior walkway
  • And so much more

Some handymen may also be capable of unclogging pipes and drains, installing lighting or ceiling fans, and replacing kitchen sinks or toilets. However, depending on where you live, the handyman may need to have a certification for plumbing services, be a licensed electrician, or have undergone formal masonry training, both for foundation work and other types of training. In order to ensure that the repairs are all compliant with local residential building codes, you’ll want to make sure to speak with an expert.

Another thing to consider when determining what kind of repairs your handyman service will complete is whether your home poses a safety risk. Things like broken window panes and loose handrails may jeopardize certain types of home loans, which can limit your buyer pool. For example, The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has certain requirements for a home’s condition before they’ll approve an FHA or VA home loan. The last thing many home sellers wish to have is a deal that falls apart right before closing, so be sure to address any safety issues with your handyman before listing your home.

Should I hire a handyman or a contractor?

You may not always need a residential contractor to complete many of the projects on your home repair list. Oftentimes a handyman can get the job done and they tend to be less expensive than a contractor. They charge by the hour and have their own tools, so while you’ll be responsible for providing the materials for each job, you’ll only have to pay the handyman’s hourly rate.

However, if you need extensive repairs done, or if a home inspector wishes to see receipts or invoices from the job, it’s better to hire a contractor. General contractors often do home renovations and remodeling, while a subcontractor is a professional that specializes in a certain area, such as roofing, plumbing, or electrical work. A contractor will also have a warranty for their work, which you, as a seller, should provide to potential buyers. Contractors also are well-versed in local building codes and will ensure that your repairs are compliant.

Choosing the right handyman to hire

Not all handyman services are created equal, and some have a more comprehensive list of services that they can provide than others. Finding the right handyman can start with getting recommendations from friends or neighbors, or even asking your real estate agent about reliable, talented handyman services in your area. In fact, your real estate agent may be the best source for a reliable handyman, as realtors often have a greater understanding of what it takes for homes to receive top-dollar offers.

Don’t be afraid to interview potential handymen or ask for references and photos of their past projects. You should also ask what kinds of certifications they hold and about their experience. Remember, this is an individual you’ll likely be working closely with, so this must be someone you can work well with.

With all the stress that goes into preparing a house to sell, hiring a handyman can be extremely helpful and save you a ton of time, money, and worry. Better yet, you may even find the perfect handyman and want to hire them again for any future repairs with your new home. 

Originally published by Redfin

Underrated IKEA Products | Apartment Therapy

It’s no secret that IKEA is a gold mine for affordable, hackable home decor. And in its massive catalog, there are a few tried-and-true favorites that always seem to rise to the top. These classics are classics for a reason: From the storage-packed BILLY bookcase to the endlessly customizable BEKVAM spice rack, they’re all super versatile in terms of both function and style. While there’s nothing wrong with re-visiting the hits, there are plenty of equally great IKEA products that fly under the radar. Seasoned DIYers know where to find those hidden gems—and what to use them for. Here, 7 of their favorites you might have overlooked.

Underrated IKEA Products | Apartment Therapy

The Best Rental-Friendly Decorating Tricks to Make Your Whole Home Look Bigger | Apartment Therapy

Megan Leihgeber has been renting her Austin home since August 2017. The 650-square-foot 1970’s bungalow is a one-bedroom, but it’s just right size for the artist, her boyfriend, Ian, and their three large dogs. “I found this listing and called the listing number right when it popped up on Realtor.com,” she says. “We signed two days later.”

The Best Rental-Friendly Decorating Tricks to Make Your Whole Home Look Bigger | Apartment Therapy

7 Timeless Kitchen Upgrades You Won’t Regret | Apartment Therapy

“… you want to choose smart upgrades that you’ll love for a long time. For guidance, we reached out to a few expert renovators and interior designers to learn how to make kitchen design decisions that will go the distance. Follow along, and your kitchen renovation budget will be wisely spent on changes you’ll enjoy for years to come.”

7 Timeless Kitchen Upgrades You Won’t Regret | Apartment Therapy

Small/Cool Contest 2020 Finalists & Winners | Apartment Therapy

It was nice to see Apartment Therapy’s “Small/Cool Apartment” Contest make a comeback this year, because we think it’s one of the best places for sourcing ideas for how to make the most out of your city apartment.

Have a look around at this year’s winners and contestants, and feel free to click on the “Ask A Handyman!” link at the top of the page to find out if we can make one of these solutions work in your San Francisco space.

The Best Way to Decorate is By Taking a Design Audit of Your Whole Home | Apartment Therapy

“We spent a few hours going through each and every space and making a detailed, itemized list of what we wanted to change. Everything from a new silverware organizer to a bigger couch to fixing a scratch on the wall got listed, room by room. When we finished the entire audit, we were left with dozens and dozens of to-do items, but none of the tasks felt like the jumbled, overwhelming mess that existed in my brain before. Instead, it felt like a game plan—something actionable and concrete that we could make progress on slowly but surely. Instead of feeling rushed to make a room feel perfect, I felt like we had a plan. Sure, it would take a while to get through all of it, but for the first time, I was looking at a physical list of everything we wanted to get done. And at least I knew that if we went item by item, we’d get through it.”