How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Hire a Handyman

It’s cheap and easy to DIY home maintenance — at least, that’s what they want you to believe. The truth is that they don’t have a full-time job, a house full of young kids and exactly zero time to waste. 

I grew up thinking that performing home maintenance myself, without professional help, was a primary responsibility of being an adult, a parent and a homeowner; my Dad devoted his evenings and weekends to tuning up the A/C, installing recessed lighting, spackling the ceiling and performing all sorts of odd jobs around the house. However, the era when homes could be simple and manageable is over — these days, I have way too much on my plate to even think about how to patch the holes in our drywall or to spray pesticide to keep the scorpions at bay.

That’s why I have a handyman on my list of favorite contacts. However, the journey to hiring a handyman isn’t always an easy one — so here are my tips to help you stop worrying about your various home projects and start spending more time with your kids.

Know What Kinds of Projects You Need Done

Handymen — or handy-people, I suppose that’s the gender-neutral term — do all sorts of odd jobs, from interior painting to repairing furniture to installing sprinkler systems to cleaning windows, but that doesn’t mean they will do everything you need done around your house. Before I started looking for a handyman near me, I took a tour of my home, noting every single project I could imagine. Some of these, I determined that I could do myself, but there were plenty of larger or more technical projects that I wasn’t sure how to complete or else I found intimidating and dangerous.

You don’t need to get all of your projects done in one go; in fact, handing your handyman a binder full of projects will surely result in some shoddy work and high costs. Instead, you should use this list to get a sense of what type of projects you need help with. You might find that you need to hire a more specialized expert, like an electrician or a plumber, but more likely, you’ll have a better guide for the qualifications you need in your future handyman.

Do Everything You Can to Vet Your Handyman

You can find handy-people advertising their services all over the place. I found my trusty handyman online, but you might interrogate friends, family members and neighbors to gain reliable referrals. You can also scour your local yellow pages for handyman services or keep your eyes peeled for handyman advertisements on cars or signs around town.

Regardless of where you acquire your handyman recommendations, you should spend some time researching a number of services to identify which one (or ones) are best for you. You can use review websites to understand how previous customers have enjoyed certain services, but you should remember that often these reviews are imbalanced in one way or another. You should also look for qualifications, like any necessary licensing or insurance, that demonstrate particular handy-people are legit. Finally, you shouldn’t be afraid to meet with any prospects to get a sense of how they behave in person. Trust your gut; if you don’t inherently like or trust a service provider, thank them for their time and hire someone else.

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Get Everything You Agree to in Writing

This is a small tip that makes a big difference. Many service providers, handy-people included, prefer to “shake on it” rather than waste time writing out your agreement and securing signatures. By skipping the contract part, they can get done with a job faster and move onto their next paying gig. As much as you might also want speedy service, you should insist on a contract. Although it’s never happened to me, I’ve heard horror stories of people receiving shoddy work, dealing with obstinate handy-people and having no legal recourse because they have no evidence of the initial agreement. Failing to get a contract not only puts your project in jeopardy, but it could also wreck your budget and put your home on the line.

Still, I continue to struggle with guilt about not being able to do everything at home myself. I’m a modern mom — I can do it all! Except, I would much rather spend a Saturday with my kids in the park then devote the whole weekend to painting a bedroom or replacing a faucet. Now that I have a trustworthy handyman, I can relax and enjoy my home instead of worrying about it constantly.

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