FABULESSLY FRUGAL FRIDAY: Hiring a Handyman
Using hammers and screws when repairing something is fine, but getting hammered or screwed when you have to call in someone else to fix something is not. Our fridge decided to quit cooling last night. My handy husband tried every trick he knew to fix it on his own, but we eventually had to call in reinforcements.
Unless the handyman you hire is a friend or relative, you will be welcoming a stranger into your home. How do you find someone trustworthy and yet reasonably priced? You simply do your homework and ask questions!
Ask people you trust for referrals. If that yields you nothing and you have to flip open the phone book, head to the Better Business Bureau’s website to research a company before you ever pick up the phone.
Then, before you ever give out your address, ask:
1. Do you have liability insurance, worker’s compensation and the proper licenses?
2. How long have you been in business?
3. Do you have customer referrals?
4. Do you run background checks on your employees? (It might shock you to know how many registered sex offenders work as handymen. Be leery of this ESPECIALLY if you will be home alone.)
5. Do you have a dishonesty bond? (This protects the homeowner if an employee steals from their house.)
6. How do you charge? Bid, estimate or time-plus-materials? (A bid is a written contract between the homeowner and the contractor that should spell out every detail of the job and the price to be paid. An estimate is a guess at the final price, but not a binding contract, although a “price not to exceed” can put a cap on the estimate. Or you can pay the handyman a per-hour fee, plus the cost of materials.)
7. Do you warranty your work?
8. Do you accept credit cards? (You can dispute bad or incomplete work through a credit card company, but not if you pay by check.)
While I can’t guarantee asking these questions will land you a stand-up handyman, you are much less likely to get “screwed” or “hammered!”