5 Tips for Working with a Handyman

Doing your own home improvement can save you money and spare you the hassle of finding a reliable handyman — if you know what you’re doing. After all, you don’t want your home to fall into disrepair. But if you don’t know what you’re doing, or don’t have the time, it can be more trouble than it’s worth. Even if you do know what you’re doing, DIY home improvement isn’t for everyone. Here are five great tips for working with a handyman.

Fortunately, there are people who make it their life’s work to tackle those renovation and home improvement projects, large and small, that homeowners can’t or won’t do themselves. If you have a home improvement project in mind, but don’t want to get your own hands dirty, a handyman is the way to go. But you’re the one who has to live with whatever the handyman does — and how can you be sure that your project will turn out the way you need it to?

#1 Know Exactly What You Want

Before you start looking for contractors to hire, you need to know exactly what the work will entail. Most contractors won’t be able to give you an accurate quote until they understand the scope of the project they’re undertaking, so you’ll want to be able to give them as much information about your project as you can when you first make contact.

Your project might be as simple as replacing a toilet or as complex as redoing your entire kitchen. It’s important that you’re able to give prospective handymen details about the materials you want to be used, how much electrical wiring will be installed, and potential changes to the plumbing, among other things. If your renovation project is extensive, your contractor will need blueprints or other drawings.

#2 Choose the Right Handyman

Choosing the right handyman is the most crucial part of a successful home renovation project because the wrong handyman can stick you with a poorly done or incomplete job. And… you might not even have the money left over to fix it. The best place to start the search for a handyman is with your friends, family, and neighbors. Most good handymen get the majority of their business by word of mouth.

You can also look for handymen online, using online review sites to check for potential issues with contractors. For example, if you’re looking for New Jersey handyman services, online reviews can tell you whether a specific contractor has left a string of disgruntled or ripped-off customers in his or her wake. You should also check with your state’s consumer protection agency for any complaints lodged against a professional handyman and verify for yourself that they have the credentials and licensing needed for the job.

#3 Put Your Work Plan in Writing

Before you begin a home improvement project, draw up a contract that puts every detail of the project into writing. The contract should include a schedule for the completion of work, a list of materials to be used, and a payment schedule. Remember, you should only be paying for completed work. A contractor who wants you to pay in advance might be planning on taking off with your money (unless, of course, you’re using some rare and expensive materials that a contractor needs to order especially).

You’ll also want to include your project’s start and expected completion date and stipulations that your contractor have lien releases, liability insurance, and worker’s comp insurance if they are bringing in employees of their own. By putting everything in writing, you’ll be that much more likely to successfully complete your project.

#4 Keep the Lines of Communication Open

While your contractor is working on your project, stay updated on how it’s going. Don’t hover over the workers, but make a point of meeting with the site foreman in the morning to discuss what’s planned for that day and what was completed the next day. Do this before work begins so that you don’t interrupt or distract them.

Get your contractor’s cell number so you can contact them if needed. Keep a journal of project updates, order numbers, delivery dates, and ideas and questions you want to bring up the next time you speak to your contractor.

#5 Be Easy to Work With

Here’s one of the best tips for working with a handyman. Be a great customer! Let the workers know which bathroom facilities they can use in the house. Learn their names and use them. Don’t be afraid to offer snacks and drinks if the mood strikes you. And, if you like their work, tell them so — everyone loves a compliment, and it makes it easier to complain later if something doesn’t go as well as you’d like.

Working with a handyman can be a great experience, especially if you’re happy with the finished product. Be an involved and conscientious partner in your project, and you could forge a valuable, lasting relationship with a skilled contractor.