Hire a handyman

  • By Jackson Holtz Herald Writer
  • Sunday, June 19, 2011 12:01am
  • Life

Home repair to-do lists tend to pile up.

They become honey-do lists, albatrosses that can threaten the best of relationships.

When buying or selling a home, the to-do list, often called a punch list, can become a tipping point between buyers and sellers.

The list may include a variety of repairs including caulking, concrete, electrical, drywall or plumbing.

It might even include a bathroom makeover.

Hiring specialists for each repair or improvement can be costly and time consuming.

That’s when working with a handyman, a jack-of-all-trades, can make sense.

“I can fix anything but a broken or a spoiled child,” Everett handyman John Madden said. “If you can see it in a building, I can fix it.”

Madden said he’s driven long distances just to change a light bulb (he made a minor repair, too).

“The neat thing about calling us is you don’t have to call anyone else,” he said.

He’s done roof repairs, poured concrete and fixed toilets.

He’s put in new floors and helped to fix leaks and the water damage left behind.

About half of Madden’s business comes from individual homeowners around the Puget Sound area. The other half comes from real estate agents, he said.

Everett Windermere real estate agent Casey Price said he often refers clients to a handyman.

“They are an important piece of preparing a house for the market,” Price said.

Handyman services also are helpful after a home inspection, when repairs need to be negotiated between the buyer and seller.

Price described handyman services as a one-stop shop for home repairs.

Still, there are some involved projects that are better suited to a specialist such as a plumber or roofer, Price said.

It’s best to ask a real estate agent or contractor for an opinion.

Handyman services can be more affordable than hiring specialty tradesmen.

Madden, whose business is called Ready Remodeling, charges about $75 an hour. Mr. Handyman of Snohomish County, a local franchise of a national business, charges about $88 an hour, owner Cindy Zynda said.

She manages three handymen who complete about 2,000 jobs each year.

While business has slowed the past couple of years, thanks to a slow housing market, 2010 has seen an increase in work orders, Zynda said.

About two-thirds of her business comes from repeat customers.

A week doesn’t go by when she doesn’t get a call from someone involved in a real estate transaction. The to-do list often is a copy of an inspection report, Zynda said.

After each job, she follows up to make sure her customers are satisfied.

“People do think that our guys are magical,” she said. “People are just so happy.”

Jackson Holtz: 425-339-3447; jholtz@heraldnet.com.

Resources

Ready Remodeling: 425-870-8576 or www.everetthandyman.com.

Mr. Handyman: 425-493-0097 or www.mrhandyman.com.

Casey Price, Windermere Real Estate: 425-446-1892 or www.caseypricerealestate.com.

How to hire

Questions to keep in mind when hiring a contractor:

Is the person doing the work licensed and bonded?

Business people should be state licensed. Check the state Department of Licensing website, www.dol.wa.gov/, or ask to see a license. Bonding is one way that contractors insure themselves in case damage is done to a property. Make sure the contractor is willing to stand by the work and make repairs if he or she damages a home.

Is there a contract?

While most handymen will work off a to-do list, it’s a good idea to have a written contract that includes an estimate.

How about a deadline?

Contractors should be able to give the homeowner an estimate of how long it will take to complete a job. Ask for the deadline in writing.

Do you charge by the hour or by the job?

Handyman services differ on how they charge for their work. Some charge hourly, while others promise to complete a job for a set amount.

Who purchases the materials?

Sometimes contractors, including handyman services, will charge a markup if they purchase building supplies.

What about references?

It’s OK and expected to ask a handyman company for references. Other customers should be happy to talk about their experience. If they’re not willing to talk, it may be a warning sign.

Talk to us

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