How to find a handyman

Have a vetted, responsible tech tackle your home repairs

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handyman checking a bathroom faucet

If you’re a homeowner and something in the house needs repairs, you’re responsible for either making them yourself or hiring someone else to do it. Fortunately, if you aren’t a do-it-yourself type or you don’t have time or energy for everything that needs to be done, a handyperson can help.

You can hire a repair tech for a variety of household projects, including painting, pressure washing and general repairs or maintenance. Finding a reliable and trustworthy worker may seem tough at first, but with some dedication and research, you should be able to find the right individual for the job.


Key insights

  • Ask for recommendations from family, friends and neighbors. You can also use apps, websites and neighborhood groups on social media.
  • Look for someone who’s responsible and on time.
  • Laborers may or may not be required to have a license, depending on your state. However, they must follow state regulations concerning project size and scope.
  • Some workers charge flat fees, but many charge by the hour. Ask around for normal rates in your area.

Finding a handyman: tips

The ideal home laborer is trustworthy, timely and vetted by trustworthy sources.

Go by word of mouth

Asking for recommendations from people you know may be the best place to start. Ask trusted sources who’ve recently used services you need — they can give you their honest opinions about the quality of service. You can also ask professionals who work with laborers regularly for their input (e.g., real estate agents, property managers, employees at design and hardware stores, interior designers).

Check neighborhood groups on social media

You can also search neighborhood groups on social media outlets (like Nextdoor) for recommendations. However, keep in mind that some of the responses could come from individuals who haven’t actually used a handyperson’s services before. They may be trying to connect someone in their network to potential work instead.

Browse apps and websites

Several apps (e.g., Thumbtack, TaskRabbit, Handy.com) are dedicated to rating and reviewing home service professionals. You can use these platforms to search by task (TV mounting, furniture assembly, etc.) and book services online.

As you browse listings, be sure to read the reviews specifically related to the services you need. Some professionals may offer a variety of services, from simple tasks like hanging a picture to more complex tasks like installing a bathroom sink.

You can also use Craigslist to find a handyman — just make sure to exercise caution.

Safety

For safety purposes, apps like Handy conduct a background check for professionals listed on the site. However, these companies may charge a fee to customers and home service professionals, leaving less compensation for the handyperson you hire.

What to look for in a handyman

Look for workers with qualities like reliability and responsiveness to calls and texts. You can try to gauge the person’s reliability from reading through reviews online, looking closely at whether they’ve completed several projects similar to yours in the past and how others describe their work ethic.

Also, as you scan through reviews, remember to read both the higher and lower ratings and comments. If numerous reviewers comment that jobs weren’t completed to their satisfaction, it may be best to move on to another choice.

You’ll also be able to observe how responsive they are when you initially reach out to them to discuss your situation. For example, professionals should return messages within two business days.

Your schedule may need to revolve around when they plan to work at your home, so be sure to hire someone who is dependable. Once you speak with a potential handyman, ask for at least three references. Call each of these individuals and ask for specific details of the work or project. Some questions you may consider asking:

  • How long has the person worked for you?
  • What types of projects did they complete for you?
  • Did you have any issues with the work? If so, how did the handyman handle that? Did they offer to come back and complete it to your satisfaction?
  • Would you hire this person again? Why or why not?
  • Do they typically show up on time?
  • Do they often cancel appointments at the last minute?

Even after you’ve vetted your handyperson, you can still monitor their work. It’s better to alert them of any issues you see early on rather than later after the project is complete.

Licensing

Many states do not require a handyman license under certain conditions, so you’ll need to check your individual state’s regulations. One of those conditions is that the project cost doesn’t reach a maximum value, which can vary from state to state.

In addition, keep in mind that hiring an unlicensed handyman to install, maintain or repair certain equipment could void the warranty. This could leave you financially responsible for any damages they cause to the dwelling. For example, warranty documents for HVAC systems state that a licensed HVAC technician must maintain the equipment to file a warranty claim.

Regardless of the licensing requirement, always be sure that your home laborer is insured. This can protect you from liability if they are injured while working in your home.

What services don’t require a handyman?

It won’t make sense to hire a laborer for every home fix. Some of the more skilled trades, like electrical and plumbing, are better left to specially trained professionals.

Red flags

You may be able to spot a dishonest handyman before you allow them into your home. Potential red flags can set off future concerns about this individual and may be a sign that you should look elsewhere for a handyman.

Some potential red flags of a handyman may include:

  • Doesn’t provide references or proof of insurance
  • Gives an estimate that’s much lower than average or doesn’t prepare an estimate at all
  • Expects a sizeable down payment before starting work
  • Refuses to put communication in writing

Also remember that hiring a home service professional is a transactional business relationship, so be sure to keep a professional tone when communicating with them. Don’t be shy about setting boundaries to protect your home and your family.

How much does a handyman cost?

Fees can vary depending on the person’s experience and the type of work you need to be done in your home. For instance, you’ll pay more to replace tile than to paint an interior room.

Average handyperson charges include:

  • Interior painting: $20 to $25 an hour
  • Tile and grout replacement: $450
  • Cabinet repairs: $300
  • Kitchen sink installation: $300 to $500
  • Bathroom sink installation: $100 to $150
  • Weatherstripping: $265

Fees can also differ depending on what part of the country you live. States like California and New York have a higher cost of living, so home service professionals typically charge more to make a living.

How can a handyman help if you’re moving?

A handyman can help you prepare your home for a big move. While you’re busy packing up boxes, they can make repairs or upgrades to your house to help it sell faster, even at a higher price. For instance, adding a fresh coat of paint to your interior walls could bring in more buyers.

Some handyman businesses may even help you pack boxes and load up trucks on moving day. 

» MORE: Best packing services

Before you arrive at your new place, a handyman could also be useful in helping prepare the home for move-in. They can replace fixtures or hardware to suit your individual style and needs.

How can you find a handyman once you’ve moved to a new location?

You can start by asking your local real estate agent for recommendations. They can likely provide you with a few names and contact information for reliable handyman businesses. You can also search online for home service professionals and check various apps to find workers nearby.

» COMPARE: Best moving companies

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FAQ

How much experience should a handyman have?

For your personal purposes, a handyman should have approximately at least two years of experience. It’s an added bonus if this person has experience in one of the trades (plumbing or electric, for example), but this is not necessary.

Remember to vet any potential handyman by contacting at least three references and asking them how well they performed on the assigned tasks, whether they were respectful in your home, whether they cleaned up after their job and if their fees were reasonable for the job performed.

When should you not hire a handyman back?

Do not hire a laborer back if they did not perform tasks up to your satisfaction, if they did not stick to an agreed-upon fee or if they were disrespectful to you or family members or caused any damage to your property.

Should you hire a day laborer?

A day laborer is someone you can hire and pay on a daily basis (often using apps like Thumbtack). However, be aware that it may be difficult to vet them since they move from job to job, making it potentially more difficult to find references.


Article sources
ConsumerAffairs writers primarily rely on government data, industry experts and original research from other reputable publications to inform their work. Specific sources for this article include:
  1. Handy, “Trust and safety are our commitment to you.” Accessed March 10, 2024.
  2. Next Insurance, “Handyman license requirements by state: A comprehensive guide.” Accessed March 10, 2024.
  3. General Contractor License Guide, “North Carolina Handyman License Guide.” Accessed March 9, 2024.
  4. Harris Insurance, “Who is Liable if a Contractor is Injured at Your Home?” Accessed March 9, 2024.
  5. Architectural Digest, “Look for These 12 Red Flags to Avoid Hiring Bad Contractors.” Accessed March 9, 2024.
  6. Angi, “What Is a Handyperson’s Hourly Rate?” Accessed March 9, 2024.
  7. HomeGuide, “How much does a handyman charge?” Accessed March 9, 2024.
  8. North Carolina Licensing Board for General Contractors, “License Classifications.” Accessed March 10, 2024.
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