When you’re a parent, it’s especially important to keep your home in good working order – but you also have less time and money to spend on repairs. That’s why it’s so important to have relationships with responsible, skilled, and qualified handymen and builders in your area. But how do you even find a handyman or builder, and once you do find one, how do you know they’re not going to leave you in the lurch?
Don’t just open your phone book and call the first number listed. Check online review sites, and ask for word-of-mouth referrals from friends, family, neighbours, and even the folks at your local hardware store. Once you’ve got some names, do your research to make sure no one is complaining about them. Finally, get some quotes – this process should give you a glimpse into the contractor’s professionalism and skill.
Check Online Reviews
Does anyone go to a restaurant, see a movie, or purchase a service or product these days without first reading some online reviews? If you wouldn’t buy an item off Amazon without reading the reviews first, don’t hire a handyman without reading what his or her previous customers have to say, either.
You can find online reviews on Google, and on sites like My Builder or Fantastic Handyman in the UK or Angie’s List or Homeadvisor in the U.S. Remember, however, that even the most skilled builders and handymen are going to get a few bad reviews from those customers who are just never pleased with anything. A couple of bad reviews probably isn’t a concern, but lots of them is a red flag.
Word-of-mouth is still the best way to find a good builder, especially since the best contractors have no shortage of work. Ask friends, neighbors, or relatives if they can recommend anyone who does the kind of work you need done.
If you’re new to the area, don’t know that many people, or otherwise can’t get good recommendations from the people around you, all is not lost. Go to your local, independently owned hardware store (not a big-box chain) and ask the owner or long-term employees who they recommend to do the kind of work you need done. Chances are they have long-standing relationships with the area’s best handymen and contractors, so they can recommend the best people for the job. Remember to ask for someone who specializes in the kind of repair, maintenance, or renovation you’re interested in, especially if it’s something that’s complex or requires specialized skill. If you’re looking for a faucet repair service in the Detroit area, for example, you’ll get further if you ask about local plumbers rather than builders or general handymen.
Once you have some names, you need to do careful research to make sure you don’t end up the object of a bad contractor horror story. You can start by calling up your state’s consumer protection bureau to find out if any complaints have been lodged against the contractors you’re considering. Make sure you get their licensing information and verify that their licenses are current. If you haven’t already, check online reviews and consumer sites like Ripoff Report to make sure that previous customers haven’t been complaining.
It’s also a good idea to ask prospective contractors for references, and to call those references. Ask how many jobs the handyman has done for them and about the scope of those jobs. Ask how well the work has held up over time. If possible, try to see the work in person yourself.
Once you’ve got a few vetted names, get quotes. A good handyman will come to your home and look at the scope of the work that needs to be done. He or she will have a conversation with you about what, exactly, you want done, what materials you want to use, and how long the job will take. You should be able to get a sense of the contractor’s level of skill and professionalism.
When you get quotes, don’t automatically go with the lowest one, especially if it’s a lot lower than the others. An unusually low quote can mean that the handyman plans to cut corners, or that he or she isn’t experienced enough to understand the true scope of the work. But you don’t need to go with the highest quote, either. A mid-range quote is usually a good option.
Finding a good handyman is a process, but it’s worth doing right. With a good handyman in your corner, you’ll be able to spend more time enjoying your home, and less time worrying about repairs and maintenance.
This is a contributed post