Congratulations! You finally bought that dream house you stalked for weeks on Zillow. But with home ownership comes a lot of responsibilities. From making sure everything is up to code and fixing things when they go wrong, to preventing things from going wrong in the future, owning a home takes a lot of work. And what happens when you can’t do that work yourself?
If you’re having a serious home issue and have to call a handyman, it can easily get more expensive than you’d ever think. In order to potentially help save you some money and stress, we’ve compiled some of the best secrets explained by handymen themselves.
Try Fixing It Yourself
We know that sounds a bit too on the nose, but trust us, you might surprise yourself. Sure, if your ceiling is leaking that may be an issue you want to call someone for (and sooner rather than later since water damage comes with a lot of repair work). But if you notice something wrong within your home that isn’t an emergency, try doing it yourself.
First of all, there is Google, which, sure enough, will help you find the answer (even for directions on how to repair a water leak and patch a ceiling as well). Even if you can’t fix the major issues, there are usually some small things you can try before bringing in a pro.
Tom Molidor is the owner of UpKeepers, Inc., a handyman service in the Midwest, and he shared some key info about about DIY fixes under the sink: “If your garbage disposal isn’t working, he says to try this first before shelling out money for a handyman: ‘Before you call a plumber: try clicking the reset button located underneath the disposal. Or, if the blades are not turning, you can manually turn the blades with the tool supplied by the manufacturer, which resembles a hex wrench.’”
Other helpful tips you may want to look up include what to do about a leaky ceiling and how to perform (very basic) electrical outlet work.
Don’t Trust Someone Who “Does It All”
It’s like that old adage that says you can do a lot of things decently, or one thing really, really well. The same can be said about a handyman.
Think of the things you need done in groups. For instance, if you need some shelves hung and some light carpentry work, then you’ll hire a carpenter. If you need something with plumbing, sinks, or pipes, you’ll call up a plumber, and for anything with wires or outlets or electrical, you’ll need to bring in an electrician. When people build homes, they don’t have the same guys make the cabinets and install the toilets, so why should you hire someone who says they do both? It’s very risky.
Holly Miller is a contributor for Porch and is part of the homeowner support team, and she explains, “Electrical, Plumbing, HVAC: In most states, these types of projects require specific licenses. If the professional does not hold the correct licensing, their work may not be covered by their contracting insurance nor your home insurance. Generally a handyman will not require a license if the project is under $1,000. If your project costs more than this, check their license information against your state requirements.”
Furthermore, if you hire someone to do a job they’re not licensed to do, and something goes wrong, you could be out the money with no insurance to cover damages. Better to be safe than sorry with something like your home.
Let Them Use Your Bathroom
If you live in a home with just one bathroom, and the reason the handyman is there is for a broken toilet, then you may be in a pickle when he needs to use the john. In any other situation, though, it’s the nice thing to do.
Of course, some people have had a bad experience when hiring a new handyman when they use the restroom only to discover something missing. If that’s a concern of yours, direct them to a guest bathroom (and maybe clean anything of value out beforehand). Otherwise, we tend to agree with Tricia Tahara-Stoller who wrote to Angie’s List about the topic: “Something as simple as allowing or not allowing a contractor to use your bathroom can send a very strong message about how you perceive them. When people feel respected as human beings, you get a much better result than when they feel treated as untrustworthy.”
There was a poll on the site asking about comfort levels of handymen using the bathroom in your home and the results may surprise you:
“55% of members say they’re completely comfortable with contractors using their bathroom.
36% say they’re only comfortable with it in some situations.
9% say they’re not comfortable with it at all.”
While there are some negative stories out there, that’s just a clear sign to hire a new handyman. Otherwise, if they can’t use the bathroom, they may leave of their own accord. As Dan Cox of AHS Plumbing & Sewer Repair says, “Denying someone use of the bathroom sends the message you think they’re inferior. If you trust them to work in your home, you should trust them in your bathroom.”
A House Is Like a Car
You take your car into the shop anytime you need an oil change or tire rotation, or when see that check engine light on. Well, we’re here to tell you that you should be doing the same thing with your house. If you see anything wrong, no matter how small, you should inspect the problem and metaphorically take off the hood.
For instance, if some shingles look damaged, you want to fix them right away—otherwise, you could be letting the next storm seep in and do some serious rot damage to the wood. That would require a whole lot more work than replacing some shingles. The same can be said of almost any other issue with your home.
Karen Spresser, a writer at Inside Out, compiled a checklist of things to do every three months, every year, and every three years in your home. The list includes things like checking the wall around the shower for mold every three months, inspect the moldings around your windows for softness or damaged wood once a year, and every five years, redo the grout in between your tiling to prevent cracking or damage.
Helping Out May Save Money
This is dependent on the job and what needs to be done, of course, but sometimes if you are up front, you might be able to save some money. For instance, if you call and ask, the handyman may tell you that they’ll cut the price down if you go and pick up all the materials beforehand, or if you clean up after so they don’t have to, or if you help them carry material.
One handyman was interviewed by Michelle Crouch for Reader’s Digest and he suggested, “Ask if there is any way you can help out in exchange for a lower price. Even if you’re not handy, I may reduce my rate on a big job if you can haul materials for me or if you are willing to clean up the work mess at the end of each day.”
You could also see if they’re interested in anything you might be getting ready to throw away, like an old lawn mower, refrigerator, or anything else like that where they could either fix it or use the parts. It doesn’t hurt to ask.
Some Closing Out Tips…
– Take care of your dog so it is not interfering with the work or barking all day.
– If you have one of those “While you’re here…” tasks, expect to be charged for it.
– Don’t put these things down your sink: eggshells, grease, flour, coffee grounds, pasta, or rice. They all will clog up your drain pipes (even after the garbage disposal); pasta and rice expand when soaked in water or any liquid.