When you need a repair in your home, whether it’s plumbing, air conditioning, furnace, or anything else, your first thought is how much the repair will cost; you may want to hire a less-expensive handyman rather than a cost-a few-dollars-more specialist, but that isn’t your best option when it comes to major repairs. A handyman is a great idea for painting your bedroom, but when a mistake in the repair work can cost you thousands of dollars, choose a licensed contractor.
There are handymen everywhere you look, advertising in the newspaper, online, and in the mail. They may call themselves “professional,” but there is no state that regulates or licenses handyman services, so it’s not necessarily a word that holds any merit.
Of course, a handyman may truly be a licensed plumber who has decided that he wants to be an independent contractor for whatever reason. Remember, he may be a licensed plumber, but that doesn’t mean that he knows about your heating and cooling system or ductwork.
Your first step is to do your homework.
- Read the owner’s manual that came with the equipment that needs to be repaired. It will outline the warranty information. Look carefully at the section that tells you what will void your warranty. Chances are it says that you need to use a contractor endorsed by the manufacturer. You may need to call the manufacturer directly to find a contractor in your area. It’s unlikely there will be any handymen on that list. Is it worth saving a few dollars to void the warranty on thousands of dollars of equipment?
- Check with the Better Business Bureau and Angie’s List to see if the handyman or contractor is reputable.
- Any contractor or handyman should have some type of licensing by your state that pertains to the necessary repair. For instance, if you need a toilet replaced make sure the repairman has a plumbing license. Ask for the license number, and then verify it. Some handymen or less-reputable contractors may acquire a license, allow it to expire, and continue to claim to be licensed.
- Ask for proof of insurance, and verify it. An uninsured handyman or contractor will leave you holding the bill for any damages to your home they cause or if any worker is injured while working on your property. Your homeowner’s insurance won’t cover it if you use an unlicensed, uninsured handyman.
Now that you’ve done your homework, are there any handymen left on your list?
Any professional contractor has a specialized skill set. They are experts in their field, and have the knowledge to ensure that the correct materials are used, the repair is done correctly and on budget, and are insured against anything unforeseen that may happen on the job.
A handyman is a great option for simple, minor repairs. However, when the repair calls for specialized knowledge and experience, a licensed contractor is the best way to ensure that the repair is done right and won’t come back to cost you thousands more than you saved.