If you're anything like the average homeowner you have a stack of "Honey Do's" and more chores to do around the house than you can possibly get done in your lifetime… or two. You're probably already convinced that you could really use a good handyman to help you out around the house but you're concerned about how to go about finding a good handyman since most don't carry or need a license from the state. While not being able to check for a license makes it a little more difficult to find and hire a good handyman; it doesn't make it impossible! Without further delay let's look at some tips that can help you find some of the better handymen in your area.
The objective when hiring any contractor or handyman is to find out as much information as possible about the quality of work the contractor or handyman is capable of prior to making a hiring decision. Since you can't check for a license with your state and you can't call your local state licensing to inquire about any complaints that have been filed for a handyman we'll have to take a different approach to gathering information about work history and quality and luckily there are a few resources to do just that.
One of the first things we recommend you do is to put together a list of three to five handymen depending on the size of the project. If you have a smaller project then you can get away with fewer names but for a larger project you'll probably want more names so you can be a little more thorough with your research.
To get the names of some handymen in your area you can get started by asking some of your neighbors, some friends that live around town and any family members you have that also stay in the area. Don't forget to try any social networking websites like Facebook or MySpace you and your personal network may use for any recommendations they may have as well. First hand referrals are great but make sure to continue on with the process for the following reasons:
Another good method for sourcing handymen in your area is asking the local real estate agent. Real estate agents often know of a few good handymen as they use them to get homes ready for sale. You can also try the local home improvement store as they may also have a few references for you. And finally to fill out the remainder of your list you can try an online directory for handyman services like the one here at Handy American.
Screening a Handyman
Ok now you're ready to start doing some investigative work… We recommend you start off by doing Google searches for the handymen on your list. You're not looking for the handyman's website though instead you want to focus on looking for reviews and feedback from past clients of the handymen on your list. If you don't have much success at Google you can also try review/feedback based websites like yelp.com, insiderpages.com and citysearch.com. And don't be afraid to try other search engines like yahoo or Bing and to further refine your searches by adding words like "review" or "complaint" to the end of the handyman's name when you do your searches for even better results.
Speaking of complaints you also want to be on the lookout for complaints. A good resource for looking for complaints is the Better Business Bureau. When a homeowner has a bad experience with a handyman they generally turn to one of two places: the Better Business Bureau or the State Licensing Board. If your handyman requires a license for the work he is doing on your home it is a great diea to call your local state licensing board and ask about any complaints that have been filed against the handymen on your list. Online a good website to check for scams, rip offs and just really bad contractors is ripoffreport.com.
And don't forget about some of the basics when looking for a good handyman. You want to look for a handyman that has several years in business and preferably a handyman who is well established in your community. You'll also want to look for a handyman with a local phone number and street address. The bottom line is you're looking for signs of an established business.
At this stage of the game it's a good idea to call each of the handymen that survived and have them bid on your project. Depending on the size of the project you may be able to get away with doing an estimate over the phone (some jobs are pretty standard like installing a garbage disposal or ceiling fan). At this juncture you definitely want to ask the handyman for any references that he may have to give you.
Asking for and checking references is one of the best and only ways you can ensure that you're hiring a decent handyman. The more people that you can speak with that will vouch for the handyman's work the better. Most contractors and handymen in the home improvement and home repair industries get most of their work form referrals so they realize the importance of making their customers happy and keep a list of references ready. Make sure to call as many references as possible and ask specific questions about the quality of the handyman's work as well as his work manner.
Detailing the Project
A few different points to consider when detailing a project to a handyman:
Hiring a good handyman is one of the best ways to free up some of your time for some of the more important things in life. A good handyman will be there for most odd jobs around the house that you just don't have time for anymore. Believe when you find a good and reliable handyman to alleviate some of your workload, you'll wonder what you ever did without one!