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How “Handy” is Your Handyman?

Written by Larry Abbott, Abbott Contracting

Beware of the Handyman, especially those that claim they can fix “anything.”  Not to disrespect Handymen because there are many out there that can do an array of construction tasks in a professional manner. Many have integrity and are very talented. However, keep in mind that every handyman may not be a carpenter, plumber, electrician, etc…

My experience is that most home owners I visit have a handyman story to share. Most people hire a handyman rather than a contractor or a trade professional to “save money” or they look at the task or repair as something simple or minor in nature. In the long run it can actually cost you more money, especially if the job is incorrectly done.

It’s tempting to turn to the gardener, the brother-in-law or some guy you meet at the lumber yard to help do a repair or a remodel. Do they really know what they are doing? Have they been trained? Will they do it safely? Surely no one is supervising them except maybe you as the homeowner and are you the expert?

I know someone who hired a contractor’s tile man’s helper on the side to tile an outdoor patio. This man was laying the tile inside the house and was very “handy”. Well on the weekend he (at the homeowners request unknown to the contractor) laid tile on the back patio and did a beautiful job. Unfortunately, the finished top of the new tile was higher than the inside of the house and a rather large thunderstorm brought rain which flooded the inside of the house. The housekeeper’s boyfriend replaced all the fascia board around the house along with a great deal of siding. He used interior wood for all the work as it was cheaper and the job got done inexpensively. The interior wood will be very susceptible to rotting and insect infestation and down the road probably will need to be replaced.

When hiring some handymen, be prepared to shell out cash several times during the project as they generally don’t have accounts where they can charge materials. If you don’t want to give out the cash you can make countless trips to the store to pay for materials as you go. This scenario can be quite complicated and end up costing more than expected.

Make sure when you are looking for a handyman to ask for local references and check them. It’ s a good idea to hire someone who is licensed, bonded and insured.  It is recommended you get some sort of guarantee of work.   Consider hiring a good contractor who has master carpenters, painters, plumbers, electricians, aboard.  It may cost you a little more, but your chances of a disaster striking while the work is being done or after is less likely to happen. AND more than likely you won’t have to pay the job to be done a second time!