HANDYMEN ARE THE DEVIL
Have you ever had problems with a handyman you hired? I got a call from a lady the other day who had problems with a handyman she had hired. She needed me to finish a job that someone else had started and she had fired because he did not know how to do the job and he had made a mess.
There are many good people in the Handyman business today but anyone with a truck and a hammer can call himself a handyman. So, what can a homeowner do to reduce the risk when hiring someone? It’s not easy, but there are several obvious steps that can be taken.
1. Ask prospective handyman if they are licensed and carry liability insurance. If they have employees or do rental properties they need to have (workers comp) coverage. Don’t take their word for it, ask to see proof. Any legit handyman will be happy to show you this documentation. Any handyman that offer excuses why it can’t be produced walk away from.
2. You can ask for a list of references but how can you check them out? They could be giving you a list of their friends. Some online rating sites are unreliable as a reference due to the ability to post bogus reviews therefore you need to check reviews from more than one source. Just because someone has a bad review does not mean they are not good. There are always two sides to a story. How they respond to a negative negative reviews speaks volumes.
3. Do a search on the internet of their name and their company. Check their social media, what kind of person is he? Does he look like someone you can trust? How many places does his business show up on the internet? Has he invested the time and money to create a web page? Is there pictures of his work?
4. Be wary of requests for a large up-front deposit. If a job requires the purchase of custom materials and a large deposit it is probably a sign that the handyman is taking on a job that is bigger than he is capable of handling or you are trying to save money by hiring a handyman rather than a general contractor. Large jobs with longer durations will have payment milestones (including the deposit) clearly outlined in the contract. Small jobs that handymen do don’t require deposits because most handymen work on an hourly basis and charge you for the time it takes.
5. Be suspicious of really low pricing. We all love a deal and for some people price is the only criteria that matters. However, low-ball pricing is a classic scam that is irresistible to many of us. It is also a sure sign something may not be right. Choosing a handyman to do a full bathroom renovation asking for trouble. A handyman can not do any electrical work or any new plumbing and he can not hire an electrician and a plumber since he is not a general contractor.
Large renovation projects require a contract with milestones and payment schedules. If everything is not spelled out in the contract the homeowner can expect to be hit with numerous “extra” material and labour costs. If your handyman does by some miracle manage to complete the work, odds are substandard materials and workmanship are what kept the cost down.
6. Do not ask for cash only deals, that is asking for problems with a handyman. Cash only with no paper trail equals no recourse for you in the event a problem arises. You want to hire a honest handyman to work in your home. If he will work for cash and be dishonest with the government what makes you think he will be honest in his dealings with you?
7. Think it over. Take the time you need to make an informed decision and you won’t have problems with a handyman you hire. If you have to sign a contract you probably should be hiring a general contractor.
IF ONLY THEY HAD LISTENED!!
At Baker, we encounter the issues created by unqualified and uninsured work almost weekly. This past week’s experience was one for the books and hence the post. This do-gooder obviously had watched dozens of YouTube videos trying to understand the complicated design he was undertaking. Unfortunately, it appears he combined several different techniques and came up with a huge pile of crap that:
- Doesn’t adhere to any code.
- Doesn’t work
- Needs to replaced
- Actually causing physical damage to the home.
When you hire a handyman near you to help you with various tasks around the house and yard — such as outdoor cleaning, light or fixture installation, or constructing a shed — you might think of asking them to take care of your kitchen and bathroom plumbing problems as well. However, consider the following crucial factors before you go ahead.
Beware of Amateur Plumbing Work
Handymen in some states are prohibited by law from performing plumbing tasks — other than minor jobs such as installing a new faucet fixture. The main reason for this prohibition is that an amateur, incorrect, or shoddy plumbing job by someone who is not a professional plumber can be disastrous for your home. A handyman, no matter how competent he or she may be at performing other chores, probably does not have the necessary training in dealing with plumbing blockages and other problems.
This could set you up for further damage to drains, appliances, flooring, and other things in your home that need proper plumbing in order to function correctly. And to make matters worse, your insurance might not cover the damage, since it was caused by an unlicensed worker. For major jobs, such as a bathroom remodel, a good handyman should either subcontract the plumbing work to a licensed master plumber, or leave it to you to find a plumbing professional who will pull permits, successfully install the necessary components in compliance with code, and make sure that everything works.
Plumber Licensing Requirements
Licensing is another very important difference between a handyman and a plumber. Plumbers must be licensed in 46 out of the 50 states (the exceptions are Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, Pennsylvania, and Wyoming). Requirements for working as a handyman tend to be less rigorous, although a few states, such as California, do require that self-employed handymen obtain a contractor’s license.
If you want to find out more about your area’s licensing policies for handymen, enter the name of your state and an appropriate term, such as “handyman license requirements,” into an internet search engine. Doing so should bring up the website of your state government’s licensing board (the site address will end in .gov).
Training and Apprenticeship
Handymen and “real” plumbers also tend to differ a great deal in their level of professional training and education. Master plumbers must pass a rigorous examination, after completing two years of vocational school training and/or a lengthy apprenticeship, which usually lasts at least four years. Since their licensing requirements change very often, many professional plumbers also attend continuing professional education as part of their career.
While some homeowners will want to save a bit of cash by having a handyman install or fix plumbing, the plumbing job may well end up costing you more money if you need to pay a professional plumber to fix shoddy work. In most cases, it is worth investing the extra money in the first place, to hire a reliable licensed plumber for plumbing installations and repair of significant plumbing problems. This helps to ensure that you will not end up going over your budget for a costly mistake.