As a transparent landlord I will be the first to say that the thing I DREAD the most is hiring a handyman. I always feel like I am being ripped off. For as many times I have paid a “reasonable” price, I have also paid the highway robbery price of $100 an hour because I had no other choice!
As a self-proclaimed empire builder, I am going to have to figure out how to hire a handy man. As much as I dread hiring help, it’s a skill I need to learn. Not only are we exceeding my husband’s time availability, we can’t make a simple fix to a home in Virginia, all the way from California.
So my current mission has started: learn how to hire a handyman. The first thing I am learning is that you have to be realistic! And in being realistic, I am realizing that I am not the best employer. Here’s why:
1. I know my husband is handy and his labor is FREE.
My husband built a 17 foot schooner out of Home Depot plywood and concrete and also did man other major projects at our last house. To say I am spoiled is an understatement.
2. I compare the hourly rate to my Master’s Degree salary.
Let’s be honest, I can’t compare the $40 an hour that I am paying my handyman to the $28 an hour and full benefits I am getting. Yes, an economist would tell you to do it yourself, but the honest truth is that there are many times you just can’t or it is just not reasonable. Remember every day you let a project sit you are also losing money.
3. I don’t want to micromanage.
I want to tell the handy man to fix it, have him give me a quote, and then have it done by the day he says. Fairy Land anyone?! The irony is that this is coming from the same person who has a 16 page lease with all of her tenants. That’s why I say again, you CANNOT compare yourself with the hired help. I have a salary position, and like with most similar jobs including something like, “…and all other duties that come up” in the contract is great. However, it does not work that way with repair work.
The first big repair project that my husband could not complete came up during a recent deployment. This was a great opportunity for me to learn (with the help of my very best friend) how to hire a handyman. He did a great job, but there was definitely a learning curve and a lot of stubbornness involved from this red-head! Hopefully these tips will help you be on a better path to hiring a handyman because trust me it WILL happen at some point.
7 Things to Remember When You Hire a Handyman:
- Walk the property and create a complete list of everything you want done. Go through the house and write down every thing that you want completed, including things as minor as checking the doorbell. Remember: if it isn’t on the list it doesn’t count and they can and will charge you more later. The first quote I was given didn’t include closets or bush trimming even though I said I want the whole house painted and the outside landscaped. This “extra” was another 20 hours of work and $800. Be careful, it adds up quickly!
- Don’t make upgrades mid-project. I decided mi- project to go from laminate to tile. While it wasn’t that big of a deal, it still increased the price by $900. Remember to make sure that everything is all worked out beforehand!
- Agree on finished-by date with monetary penalties. One of my pet peeves have been people not showing up to complete a job and then not completing it on schedule. One of the reasons you hire a handyman is to guarantee that the project is done as soon as possible. Remember to put expectations into the contract so that you are not the bad guy!
- If payment is by the hour, be present. If not, pay per job. Even though I have learned to hand over large sums of money when I have to put 20-25% down for my investment, I am still cheap. That’s why I prefer paying per job as it prevents me from giving myself an ulcer worrying if the handyman is wasting money.
- Don’t be ashamed to negotiate. Personally, I HATE negotiating. I always feel like people are going to do a crappy job because they are upset with our deal. At the end of the day, one must negotiate, I have just learned the “need” to have a good contract and hold their fee to the fire.
- Put everything in writing. Similar to a lease, if it is not in writing then it does not count. I do all my communications over text message and email. This is a great way to make sure I am covered and have records of everything.
- Be explicit. The details are what is so important. Be very exact. For example: state the exact start time on a specified day. You want to lay everything out otherwise you will regret it later.
Don’t forget to be flexible! Remember the Handyman is trying to earn a living too. There is a reason why you are hiring it out so stand your ground, but keep it professional. Have you ever needed to hire a handyman? What was your experience?0