Five Tips on Who to Call for the Small Stuff
Almost every homeowner has lots of little jobs that never get done – from fixing a little hole in the drywall to moving a heavy mirror from one room to another to replacing a few cracked bathroom tiles. It’s the honey-do list that honey never does.
So you’ve thought about calling a handyman (maybe a handywoman) to do all those jobs and paint the powder room as well.
But who you gonna call? You don’t want to make a big deal out of it, right? You don’t need estimates from three people on what it costs to hang three pictures in the family room. You are not asking them to build an addition on the house.
No one wants to take away your freedom to hire who you want, of course, especially not for small jobs. Arizona law specifically says that unlicensed handymen or women can do home repairs or minor renovations provided that the value of labor and materials for the job does not exceed $1,000 and does not require a permit from your city or county. This rule – the handyman’s exemption – means almost anyone can do small jobs in your home.
But Arizona also says that a contractor must have a license before he or she can do any electrical or plumbing jobs in your home. Does that mean that you need a licensed electrician just to replace a GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) outlet? Yes, it does. Does that mean you need a licensed plumber to extend a gas line to that new fire pit in the backyard? Yes, it does.
Over the years, “Rosie on the House” staff members have seen many serious plumbing and electrical mistakes made by unlicensed workers. Probably, one of the worst was a repair person who poured roofing tar down the drain in a shower to stop a leak. It stopped the leak, but it also shut down the shower and much of the plumbing on the second story of the house.
So how do you put all those rules together and still find the right person for the little jobs at a good price? These five suggestions could help:
1 | Door-to-Door is a No-Go!
Do not hire someone going door to door in your neighborhood in hopes of landing a small or big job in your house or someone else’s. Many times these workers are honest, but sometimes not. One popular scam is someone who rings your doorbell to say they’re working on a house up the street and would love to keep working in the neighborhood.
2 | Check with Neighbors and Neighborhood Resources
Maybe you live in an area where a homeowners association has a list of repair people who could do little jobs. That can help, especially if they are skilled at working in houses just like yours. Or ask friends and neighbors to recommend workers they use. You can look for lists of handymen online as well. But you may still need to do a little investigating about these recommendations before hiring someone.
3 | Consider a 'Licensed' Handyperson
Consider having a licensed handy person for the job, especially if your job has a few extra complications and requires expensive tools. A contractor licensed and registered with the state has to have insurance to pay for mistakes, like breaking a window or spilling paint on your floors. He or she also must be in the worker’s compensation system so that you can’t be sued if a worker gets hurt at your house. Handyman Connection in Phoenix, for example, also runs background checks on all its employees, according to Randy Hopkins of the company. All those extras may mean the price can be a bit higher, but it buys some peace of mind.
4 | Don't Agree to a Rough Estimate Over the Phone
You can get a rough estimate over the phone from a handyman about your job, but don’t set the price until the person arrives at your house to assess all the details of your job. If you have time, get another estimate from another handy person.
5 | Bundling Jobs Can Save Money
If you plan to hire a handyman, put together three or four different small jobs to have them done at the same time. It could save you time as well as money in the long run to do it that way.
And one final reminder, as we said before, always hire a licensed contractor if your repair or renovation requires a building permit from the city or county.
- Gas Fireplace: Rosie on the House
- Painting: iStock
- TV Install: Rosie on the House
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