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Don't hire a dodgy handyman

Finding a good handyman shouldn't be based on glowing reviews on a home-service website.


ID 124737076 © Andrey Popov |

If you're looking to hire a handyman to do maintenance and repair jobs around the home, take a look at some signs you should look out for before signing on the dotted line.

First impression is everything

So you've managed to find the perfect handyman on a popular home-service or handyman website and you're already receiving calls to set up appointments. After reading glowing reviews on the website, you set up a time for them to come out and give you an estimate.

The first sign that something may be wrong is when the handyman arrives late without any apology or notification. Punctuality is important and should be the precedent when establishing a relationship with a client.





Do they listen to you

This point is especially important in you're a women looking to hire a handyman, because it's so easy to be dismissed with reassuring comments like "no problem - I know exactly what you want". This can be cause for legitimate concerns when you're explaining what needs to be done and the handyman isn't listening.

If a handyman is already turning off and not listening to your concerns before the project even begins, what will communication be like if there is an issue during the project, or if the job is not being done as you would like. Good communication is the key to a good working relationship and you should be able to talk to the handyman if concerns or issues arise.


Before you sign on the dotted line

When selecting the right handyman for the job, it is important to check that he or she is properly qualified and has a current license and contactable references. A contract needs to be drawn up so that you both understand the work conditions and expectations of the project. A verbal contract is worth absolutely nothing if the job is not done properly or not in line with what was discussed at the initial meeting.

If the handyman doesn't normally draw up a contract for small jobs - no matter how small - make sure that the quotation clearly states in detail the job to be done, the length of time it is estimated to take to finish, and the total cost, including any extra costs that the handyman may expect to arise during the project. The client should know and fully understand what is involved.

It is also important that you check that a handyman has the proper certification or license in the event that you require electrical or plumbing work to be done. Any maintenance, repairs or installation of electrical systems, other than cosmetic work, require that an electrical compliance certificate be issued for the work done, and this can only be done by a licensed electrician.


Don't overlook small details

When receiving a quotation for a job to be done, it is impossible for you to think of every small detail or cost that should be costed into a job. That's why it is important that you can communicate with the handyman to address the project beforehand and cover every contingency. For example, don't assume that the handyman will clean up the job site once the work is done.

The handyman should be able to offer advice on what he covers and what is not covered, which comes with job experience and previous dealings with clients.

Also discuss what happens in the event of accidental property damage or bodily injury, either to workers or yourself. A chipped tile caused by dropped items, paint on your laminate floor, this might not seem like catastrophic but it's not something you want to be left with to sort out yourself once the job is done and the handyman has left.

Address your concerns

In South Africa, homeowners have good reason to be concerned when hiring a contractor or handyman. There are more than a few businesses that start up, offer bad service, and then shut down when they're in trouble only to start again under a new trading name. Too many homeowners have been left in the lurch with unfinished or incomplete projects, projects done badly, or paying for a job that hasn't been done. It makes sense to address any concerns you may have before signing a contract.

No matter how small the project, always ask for references for jobs done and do your due diligence and contact references to check that the handyman completed the job to their satisfaction, that the job was done on time, or what problems occurred.


Discuss payment options

If a handyman or contractor wants payment upfront, that is generally a sign that they don't have enough cash flow to take on the project. While it is standard practice to ask for money upfront to buy materials and supplies, it's also in your own best interests to check what they need to buy in advance and avoid paying more than 25% upfront.

This is a difficult subject, since most one-man operations do indeed have limited cash flow for their business, and rely on a payment upfront to purchase materials. However, if you have followed the advice given above and checked out everything in advance, try to keep upfront payments as small as possible.



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