Thursday, July 19, 2007
Beware the Handyman
In an earlier posting, I commented on the damage that the handyman homeowner can do to the value of a house, if he/she is, in fact, not all that handy or lacks the tools and training for the job. The same is true for the "for hire" handyman. You've seen those signs posted on telephone poles or ads in the local paper for a handyman, which can supposedly do all sorts of odd jobs around the house. Well the same warnings apply to these commercial versions of the handyman homeowner.
It's likely OK to hire a handyman to change a light bulb or clean out your gutters or do other odd jobs around the house that don't require a great deal of skill or specialized tools; but, think twice before hiring them to do a big job. Handymen aren't licensed. In most cases they aren't specifically trained in areas like electrical work, plumbing, tile work, roofing or other jobs for which a builder-professional should be used. A good rule of thumb is again that any job that requires a permit to do should not be given to a handyman. There are jobs that don't require permits that are also just too big or too prone to mistakes that they should not be trusted to someone who has graduated from working on his on house and now wants to do yours.
I've seen interior wall and ceiling repairs butchered by handymen and roofs that look terrible down by handymen (a second coat of shingles job often does not require a permit). Handymen have also wired plugs wrong or left leaking pipes behind on plumbing jobs. so, hire the proper professional for those more important jobs and leave the smaller things that you could likely do yourself, if you had the time, to the handymen of the world. Also remember to ask the handyman to prove to you that he has insurance coverage. If you hire hm to get up on your second story roof to clean the gutters and he falls off, you don't want to be responsible for his health care. Hiring a handyman is only about a half a step above asking a neighbor to help you with something. In neither case are you really sure what you're getting, ,but it's usually cheap.