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Saturday December 7, 2019

Savvy Living

Savvy Senior

How to Find and Hire a Good Handyman or Contractor

What's the best way to find a good handyman or tradesman to do some work around the house? I have had some bad luck lately with unprofessional workers who do substandard work and charge too much.

Hiring a good home repair handyman can be a challenge. How do you find someone who will return your calls, show up on time, do the job right and finish it, all at a fair price? Here are some tips that can help.

Who to Call

While it may seem obvious, the person you choose to call for help will depend on what you need done. If, for example, you have a small home repair or improvement project that does not require a lot of technical expertise, a handyman may be all you need. But, if you have a job that involves heating or cooling systems, electricity or plumbing, you are better off going with a licensed tradesman. Bigger jobs like home renovations or remodeling may require a general contractor.

Whatever type of work you need, the best way to find it is through referrals from people you trust. If your friends or family do not have any recommendations, turn to professionals in the field, like local hardware or home improvement stores or even real estate agents.

There are also online resources that can help. Websites like Home Advisor can put you in touch with prescreened, customer-rated service professionals in your area for free. You can also try Angie's List, which is a membership service that will connect you with contractors and service companies with various types of expertise for free. They provide ratings and reviews of local professionals who have done work for other members in your area, plus details about the type of work they have completed, prices, professionalism and timeliness.

Another option for finding handyman services is through a local or national service company like Mr Handyman, House Doctors or Handyman Connection. You will probably pay more going through a company than you would with an independent handyman, but service companies typically promise professional workers who are screened, licensed, bonded and insured.

To find local handyman services in your community, check your yellow pages or go to any internet search engine and type in "handyman" along with your city and state.

Things to Know

Once you've located a few candidates, your next step is to get written estimates that list the materials, costs and details of the project. It is a good idea to get at least three estimates from different sources to be sure you are getting a fair deal.

Before hiring someone, check out his or her work history with your state consumer protection agency (go to for a list) and the Better Business Bureau ( You can also conduct an online search using the company or individual's name and search terms like "reviews" and "complaints."

You also need to find out if your candidate has an approved contractor or tradesman license. Using an unlicensed worker in a state that requires a license is dangerous - you will have little legal recourse if the job goes bad. (To see which states license contractors, visit is another good resource for researching local contractors. In addition, make sure to ask to see your candidate's proof of insurance, which covers any damages they may cause while working on your home, and ask for several references from past jobs.

Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living" book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization's official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.

Published November 23, 2018
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