With many home repair services to choose from, how does one go about finding the best one? A more important question may be how one finds the handyman service that is the best fit, given your individual circumstances. Before addressing this question, it might be a good idea to take a look at the current housing market in the US and how this relates to home maintenance.
Since the housing market crash in 2008, the home construction industry has changed dramatically. The majority of construction related jobs that were created with the rise in housing speculation have disappeared. In terms of who is buying and selling houses now, the landscape here has also changed drastically. While there are people who buy and fix up rental properties still, and even some who are buying and ‘flipping’ homes, these tend to be pros who have many years of experience in determining the best possible opportunity. Gone are the days of anyone buying any house on easy credit, and having the value of the house increase in value without a second thought.
Of course many people are upside-down on their mortgages and have less value in their homes than what they owe for it. An even worse predicament is in the case of those people who have lost their jobs and have gone into foreclosure on their home. For the people now who have a home, and have a job, their main concern is maintaining the equity value of their investment, not how much money they can squeeze out in an equity loan this year, to buy that upgraded plasma TV.
All houses require ongoing maintenance. Appliances and fixtures wear out from use and age, the ground beneath settles over time creating stress within the frame of the house, and the exterior of the house is subject to exposure to the elements and the ever-present critters, big and little. Many of the resultant problems can be delayed for years, or even eliminated, by the builder and his sub-contractors following construction best practices and exacting building codes, but unfortunately this isn’t always the case. But in any case wear and tear on a house will take its toll. As an investment, or as a safe environment to raise a family, a house needs to be taken care of.
A lot of homeowners are capable of taking care of their own home repairs; they have the basic skills and the time to fix any issues that come up with their home. Others have the skills, but don’t have the time (or after spending numerous weekends on a few smaller improvements, they decide their time is better spent.) And still others have no clue where to start in handling, for instance, a small plumbing repair. For those fortunate enough to be able to quickly do their own work, they aren’t likely to have to find a handyman for hire, short of hiring a contractor for major remodeling projects. But for the average homeowner working a 9 to 5 job, sorting through professional handyman services is an important necessity.
One may also have a home maintenance service contract. This is a very worthwhile expense to budget in, particularly if the heating or air conditioning is likely to need major work. Heck, maybe the boiler in an old home is starting to make noises. The drawback to one of these service contracts is all the items not covered can be very expensive if handled through the home maintenance contract companies. However the costs of installing a new cooling system far outweigh the relatively small monthly expense of a basic service contract. Many repairs may also be covered by one’s homeowner’s insurance. This is always worth checking on.
So where does one start? It is likely one isn’t even considering a local handyman unless there is a problem they are aware of that needs fixing. This could be wood rot around the front door, or a water stain on the ceiling. Most home maintenance services advertise themselves online, so it’s not too hard to put together a handyman services list pretty quickly from the internet. This can be as simple as Googling ‘find handyman’, and the city you are in. Most of the better ones will have reviews or testimonials online about their work. If not they are either newly in business, or probably not worth your time. This is getting to be the ‘price of entry’ into business these days and no matter how good or bad they may be, anything less tends to disqualify them from being considered.
At this point, call up from your list of home handyman services and schedule appointments for a free estimate. Pay attention to your instincts when you meet the representative who comes out. How does he dress? How does he present himself? Is it the person who will be doing the actual work or a salesman/estimator from a larger company? One very important point is to get a list of references who you can call, from each handy man service you are getting an estimate from. This can’t be over-stated, and the more references the better.
Given that you are happy with the man (or woman) who comes out, wait to get your estimate, which they may do on the spot, or send it via email, or snail mail.
Considering Handyman Prices
At this point the question becomes how you get the best value for your money. Your individual circumstances will have a lot of bearing on this question. A single mom on a limited budget is obviously going to look at this question differently than a company CEO. Yet both must look at the question of which professional handyman will do the job correctly, without it having to be done again at some point in the future. No one wants to pay for poor workmanship, or to have a job done twice. However someone in a better financial position will have more latitude to pick and choose.
This is not to say that the highest price will be the best. That can have much to do with the specific handy man service. Some companies specialize in property maintenance, which may not require the same level of care and expertise as home repairs or renovation. It is also usually a false economy to pick the lowest price, but even this is a generality. The single mom may get a line on a fireman who does quality handyman repairs in his spare time, and who gives her a big discount because he can.
One must find the best handyman rates he or she can, but delivered with the best quality possible, as determined by the reviews, testimonials, and references presented by the local handyman repair service. Not necessarily an easy decision, but one that can be made MUCH simpler by doing one’s due diligence and checking up on their references. A quick call to the local Better Business Bureau is a very good idea as well.
Some handy man services make this decision very easy by providing excellent customer service and doing consistently good work, and making this known online, through testimonials and reviews, and by providing references who will explain to you exactly what the experience was like in hiring them. In this case it becomes a matter of deciding whether their price fits your budget.