I need to get some projects done around my home, but I’m concerned about finding the right person. My neighbor had a handyman doing kitchen work in her home, but he never finished and left with some of her money. How can I be sure of the person or company I hire?
Great question! We have been receiving an increasing number of calls from people who are hiring individuals to do work around their house and are then getting substandard or uncompleted work, and can’t get the person to return. We hear these stories often and they’ve been increasing since the construction industry got hit so hard during the recession. Many people have been laid off and often the first thing some people do is put a sign on their truck. However, it takes a great deal more than that to establish a company that will be responsive, responsible, and there in the future.
There are several ways that you can find a good handyman, but you need to ask the correct questions, get answers, and do some homework.
If you’re using an individual, be sure to check them out as thoroughly as you can. Get references and follow up on them. Ask to see proof of insurance – liability and workers’ compensation (the latter is required by law). If someone is hurt working on your property and they’re not insured it can cost you! Be careful how you pay the person. Don’t give them money to go buy materials. Instead purchase them yourself or pay them after you receive a receipt itemizing their purchase on your behalf. Don’t pay for their labor in advance. If they are strapped for money, pay them at the end of each day if necessary. But be sure they’re making progress and that you’re getting what you pay for (especially if they don’t come back and you need to hire someone else to take over – you don’t want to pay twice for the same work!).
If you’re using a handyman service, you can research the company in a couple of ways. The Better Business Bureau is one way to check, I also highly recommend Angie’s List. This is a company where you, the consumer, join for a yearly membership. You then have access to all different kinds of companies, from doctors, plumbers, electricians, contractors, and yes, handymen.
Once you pick a category, you’ll see each company that has been graded, their grade (A, B C, etc.), and you can then click on the company and see every letter that has been submitted by different members. You see the good, the bad, and the rest. The individual company has no say in what is printed; they can only respond to any individual letter. So, when you’ve done your research, you are going to feel like you’ve know the company for a long time. You can also report your experience to help others, and they offer a mediation service if there is a problem with someone listed on their site.
Review the company’s website. Make sure they are insured. Do they have photos of their work?
Then call and ask some important questions. Are the people who will be doing the work full time employees of the company, or are they sub-contractors? How long has the company been in business? Have they won any kind of independent service awards?
What are the deposit and payment policies for your project? And if it is a large project, you should have an idea of when the job will be finished.