A home is the biggest purchase most of us will ever make. Protect your investment by taking care of repairs quickly and properly. When you have a routine maintenance problem that you don’t have the time or skills to tackle, a home-repair or handyman service can help. These services are generally less expensive and faster than general contractors, who often focus on top-dollar gigs like home building and remodeling.
It can be scary to invite a person or crew into your home to do work, especially if you won’t always be around to keep a watchful eye. It’s important to find a home repair service you can trust to provide prompt and quality work. Whether your project is as small as painting one room or as big as rewiring your whole home, follow these steps before hiring anyone.
Talk to friends and neighbors.
First, ask neighbors and friends for recommendations, preferably for someone with whom they have a positive, ongoing relationship. If that doesn’t net results, check peer-review sites, such as Yelp or Angi, or do an online search for “home repair” or “handyman services.” Make a list of at least three companies, and call the Better Business Bureau to see if complaints have been filed against any of them.
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Ask for references.
Next, ask the candidates for references. Ask these customers if they felt the service provider was prompt, courteous, professional, affordable, fair and trustworthy. Ask to see photos so you can judge the quality of the work. It’s best to interview customers who hired the contractor for a project similar to the work you need.
Get written estimates.
Finally, get written estimates (these should be free) from a few companies before choosing one. Be sure the companies are bidding the same specs for the project so you can compare apples to apples. While reasonable pricing is important, going with the lowest price isn’t always the best bet. A poor repair job will cost twice as much when you must pay to fix mistakes. When working with a new-to-you repairperson, particularly someone who doesn’t come with recommendations from people you know well, you might want to give him or her a test run on a small project.
Outline your agreement clearly.
Hire only a repair service or handyman who is insured, bonded and licensed or knowledgeable in the type of repairs you need. Before they begin even a small job, get a written contract that outlines the terms of your agreement, including timeline, fees and warranties. Without this step, you’ll have a much harder time recovering your expenses if the handyman doesn’t deliver as promised.
(Better Homes and Gardens is a magazine and website devoted to ideas and improvement projects for your home and garden, plus recipes and entertaining ideas. Online at www.bhg.com.)