Hiring a Handyman: Single Moms Savvy Advice to Hire the Right Guy
You have a honey do list but no honey. Trust me, honey, I know the pain. But with no honey, there are three options you have to fix those pesky things needing attention around the house. That might also mean you need some attention, but let’s stick to the house for now.
Your three choices when trying to tackle that honey do list with no honey are:
- Learn to Do It Yourself
- Find a Honey
- Hire a Handyman
Before you can really start to evaluate which of these choices are most appropriate, you should evaluate your skills and see what you really need done and what you can really do.
Hey, remember, you’re a mom and that makes you super-woman, at least in your kid’s eyes. But the reality is not all of us are ready to crawl under the house and fix the leaking pipe. (The pipe is probably less of a problem than the spiders, snakes and other creepy crawlies under there.)
But that list…
The Honey Do List Summarized
This is probably the moment you realize there is a benefit to renting a home over owning it; landlords take care of that honey do list. They have to. It’s okay, there are a lot of great things about home ownership, the fixing everything just isn’t one of them. Think about all the things that need to be done. Then start thinking about resources.
If you have recently purchased the home, stop to think whether or not you have a home warranty. If you don’t, think about getting one in the future. Sure, you spend a bit on the monthly premium but it will fix things like appliances, plumbing and electrical issues without needing to do it yourself or find yourself a honey.
For those of us who might have no thought about getting that home warranty, look for warranties on appliances or invoices from service providers. You might be surprised to find what you have covered for free and free up some of your time.
And for all else, the little bits of painting that is chipping on the garage door, the squeaky window sill in your son’s room or the mounting of the flat screen television you indulged with over Christmas … all these other things may require some work. That’s work from you as the do it yourself mom, a honey or someone you can sweet-talk into helping or hiring a handyman.
Learning to Do It Yourself: The DIY Mom
I’d like to think of myself as a true do it yourself (DIY) mom. But the truth is when it comes to my home that I worked my tail off to buy, well, I’m pretty chicken about doing more harm than good with my DIY skills. I know others who excel at this and probably are better at shimming a new kitchen cabinet than Tim Allen in Home Improvement. (Word has it, he really can’t wield a hammer anyways.)
But be daring and learn what you can. From YouTube to Home Depot workshops, there are a ton of resources for moms like us to learn how to do a lot of things on our own.
I have actually changed out the entire interior part of the toilet – you know, the do-hickies and thing-a-ma-bobs. Yep, did it myself.
I’d consider myself a better painter compared to the professional dude I hired at my last house who didn’t bother to tell me the extra can of paint I bought didn’t match the original wall color. Instead, he just painted and wanted his $25 / hour for the entire 8-hour day.
But when it comes to the seriously heavy lifting or potentially fire hazard, house exploding items on the honey do list, I usually call in the big guns. That usually means asking if anyone can help.
Find a Honey for the Honey Do List
Sweet talk can often get a lot done. Not something I’m really good at and not something that has regularly gotten me anything done in my home. Yeah, I’m not really prepared to pay the price of getting a temporary honey to help with the honey do list.
That being said, if you happen to be in the market for a honey or have a friend who is willing to rent out her husband for the day in exchange for their date night babysitting (just to pour salt in your dateless wounds), then maybe you have something cooking.
Should this fail, it might be time to actually call the handyman.
Hiring a Handyman
Before we get into hiring a handyman for your honey do list, I want to say this: if you are a single woman, expect a lot of mansplaining and sleight of hand dealings. I might venture to say hiring a handyman is more difficult than finding a new honey in some cases.
Let me put it this way. I have some idea of what things cost. I can price things out at Home Depot just like anyone else. I also have family that are general contractors who can give me a pretty good idea about the timeframes for any given job. When I get a quote for a handyman to build 16 feet of fence and the materials are twice the cost of what I bid and the labor cost is three times the amount of time I could do it in … let’s just say I’m not a happy momma bear.
In fact, people find me downright bitchy.
How to Hire a Handyman
When hiring a handyman to take care of all those items you just aren’t comfortable in a do it yourself scenario, keep these things in mind: plan, negotiate and prepare.
Plan: Take the time to review what is entailed in the job. If it’s mounting that flat-screen television, watch a few how-to videos on YouTube. It will give you an idea of the materials required, the time it should take and what questions to ask the handyman.
If you have more than one project to do, take the time to bid them out separately before you ask for a bundled bid. If you ask for the bundle first, you might not be getting a discount. But you should because the handyman doesn’t have to make an extra trip and should be able to pick up all materials (if you aren’t getting them) at once.
Negotiate: Packaging several items on the honey do list should be the start of negotiations. But don’t leave it with that. Get several bids and don’t hesitate to play one bid against another. Most handyman work within the same price ranges so differences in price are often because of the time estimated for the job. That’s the other thing – don’t pay hourly. Get a bid on the job and set that as the price.
Prepare: Know the state laws and requirements for handymen. Some states don’t allow unlicensed tradesmen to charge more than $500 for a job. Charging more requires licensing and often a bond and even insurance. Make sure you know when the handyman will be working and prepare your home to keep it clean of dust and debris. Don’t expect most handymen to do a good job on the clean-up.
If you find a handyman that does, keep that number, put it in speed dial and refer him to your friends. He’s worth it.
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Protecting Yourself and Your Children
When a handyman comes to fix something, he is coming on to your property and often into your home. Make sure you and your children are safe and secure. The United Handyman’s Association offers a service to help homeowners find and hire a handyman that has passed a background screening including a criminal background check.
Our friend, Flash Shelton is the founder of The United Handyman’s Association. His mission is to make sure fewer people, single moms and homeowners in general, don’t get the short end of the yardstick when it comes to using general handyman services.
Ask a handyman for insurance. Accidents happen. You don’t want him trying to install a new ceiling fan only to have a fire start because he accidentally crossed the wrong wires. That shouldn’t be on your homeowner’s insurance policy. It is his liability and he should have insurance to cover it.
And always, as a single mom, if your kids start to feel uncomfortable with the handyman around, make sure you ask them the right questions. Never accuse someone of anything without substantial reason or evidence but do set boundaries to keep your family comfortable and safe.
If you are looking for help finding a handyman, feel free to check out our trusted partner’s resources at The United Handyman’s Association.
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