Just a quick search on your favorite search engine will bring up thousands of horror stories about hiring a handyman or contractor for your project. Some home improvement tasks are just too difficult for one person or for someone with no experience, but some people would rather take their chances, risking money- and time-costing mistakes, rather than try to find a handyman. While there are a few bad eggs out there, however, most contractors of any kind are professional and polite. Here are six mistakes to help you avoid the ones that are better left in the phone book.
Mistakes #1: Hiring a general handyman for a specialized service
People, no matter what their profession, tend to stretch the truth in order to make more money. If someone you know is a general contractor or handyman, they probably aren't the best person for a job that requires expertise, like plumbing or electrical work. If your handyman insists he or she can do that job, ask for recommendations from past clients who have had work done in a related area. They should be able to prove that they really do have experience in the specialized field, especially is a local inspection depends on it.
With every contract, there needs to be a "meeting of the minds" in order for it to be a successful document. Before you start any project, the scope of the work, timeline, payment amount, and other conditions should be very clear in a written document. Don't leave any stone unturned, and go over every condition carefully with your handyman to ensure that you both understand the contract well. Many handyman dispute arise not because one side or the other breaks the contract intentionally, but because there was never a meeting of the minds in the first place about certain components of the project.
Mistake #3: Not doing your own research
Just because there is an expert helping you doesn't mean you shouldn't read up on how to correct the problem yourself. With most projects, you have multiple options when it comes to installation methods and materials, and you're doing your home a disservice if you just blindly trust your handyman. Most handymen do make the recommendations that they think will be best for you, but some will recommend whatever is easiest or will put the most money in their pockets. Always research the project on your own--with the many resources available online, this doesn't take long and isn't very hard.
Mistake #4: Trying to live in a construction zone
With many home improvement or repair projects, and handyman can be in and out in an afternoon. However, some projects require a lot more work, and when this is the case, you may need to make changes to your schedule to make the project go smoothly. If you try to go about your daily life while your handyman is working, you could hinder the project and frustrate your contractor. Instead, consider staying away from that area of the home or event get a hotel room for the night, especially if your home improvement project deals with plumbing. At the very least, be polite and move items out of the area so that your handyman has a clear workspace.
Mistake #5: Working with a company who will contract out your work
Some contractors send work to other people they know when they have too much to complete themselves. While they may still be on the hook for any problems, due to them signing the contract, the goal here is to not have any problems in the first place. Handyman jobs are quick in most cases, and contractors don't make much money on them, so it is common that they'll have a team of other people to complete the work. That's ok--if you agree to it. This isn't always a bad thing. Sometimes, companies hire people who are extremely qualified and do great jobs at all projects. When you hire a handyman, though, make sure that either this will be the person who comes to your home or you are given information about the person who will work on your project. Their word that the person will do a good job isn't enough.
Mistake #6: Hiring the first handyman in the phone book
Lastly, you can avoid problems if you actually do research and hire the best handyman for the job, not the first one you meet. If you've never had to hire a handyman in the past, this step is well worth your time, because finding a good handyman means that you'll have someone to call from this point on. Talk to at least three to five handymen in your area, preferably those that have been recommended either by people you know or online. It might be easiest to just open the phone book and hire the first person you call after a short conversation over the phone, but you might pay for that decision later.
Key Hiring Tips
Hiring a contractor is an important decision so it is best to get all the information you can on each company. This includes checking references, insurance and licensing information. On a larger project a designer or architect is required in order to get the permits. Smaller projects still require a plan and the job will turn out great with the a little organization.