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Whoe here uses a handyman to do work around the house?
Old 08-24-2006, 09:23 PM   #1
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Whoe here uses a handyman to do work around the house?

I am experiencing some VERY troubling times with some local handymen hired to do work at some of my properties. They avoid my calls, show up if they like, never get stuff done right etc. Im also trying to get some contractors lined up for a garage I'm building (tree removal, excavating, concrete) and nobody shows up if...thats if they even return the call to begin with!!! WTF

I've gone thru 3 'handy'men so far, and am locking the 4th out of a rehab tomorrow evening (30+ days so far to complete a 4 day job)


Do any of you employ a handyman for stuff around the house you are incapable of or too lazy to do? What kinds of projects do they do for you and what do they charge?


I'm thinking of starting a handyman company that focuses on CUSTOMER SERVICE WITH A SMILE. I'll answer the phones, give reasonable and sound advice, help the homeowner save a few bucks, do professional work, and even turn down work I cant do.

I can do a lot of things from carpentry to some plumbing and electrical, yard work, painting, minor cement repair, light fixtures, door hanging, floor refinishing, tile, drywall, ceiling fans, hauling etc. Not to mention I could push he duct cleaning while I'm there!



I put an ad on craigslist and got a quick response. I have a job lined up to replace an entry door for a lady, and she has other odd jobs ready for me if I pass the sniff test. I am planning on a 5 hour project, and I'm getting $250



pleaseshare your experiences and perception of these so-called handymen. I perceive handymen as jobless vagrants trying to make a few bucks since they arent really employable....but there must be a few good ones out there (except the chais ie mr handyman, handyman conection etc)

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Re: Whoe here uses a handyman to do work around the house?
Old 08-24-2006, 09:47 PM   #2
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Re: Whoe here uses a handyman to do work around the house?

There is real opportunity here, I agree.

We looked around for a long time to find a trustworthy guy ... my DW and I both work, and when we're not working, we don't want to work some more. In tetirement, I'll do more, but not now.

Even with the good guy we have now, the work is not always up to my standards, but then I can break a few things along the way as I learn new construction skills ... so I suppose it all works out.

Good idea for a nice local business. A solid handyman would like a steady income, though as you note, you'll go through quite a few to find a diamond. Best of luck.
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Re: Who here uses a handyman to do work around the house?
Old 08-24-2006, 11:41 PM   #3
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Re: Who here uses a handyman to do work around the house?

fed,

Sounds like a tight labor market where you are.

It is a business that relys on casual labor a lot. We had a good worker, semi-retired to start with, who had started his own handyman business replace our old cast iron tub and install fancy walls in the new bath. He needed an assistant and had trouble finding reliable help himslef (actually, never did). He did good work which was eventually noticed and one of the big hardware companies coaxed him into going to work for them. Regular hours, benefits, no labor or customer problems--why not?

The more successful handymen operations I have seen use smart advertising to keep their in-basket full so they can keep themselves and their crews busy. I see you have already discovered that trick. If they can hook up with a real estate operation, that also helps keep the work load steady.

In our small town, the word gets around about good handymen. All it takes is a good reputation for doing what they said they would do in a timely fashion.

I think it is a good opportunity, too. Attractive for independent types. Must have a strong stomach for irregular employment and stay healthy. Requires motivation, but I think you have that, too.

If I can't get my wife to travel after I retire, we may have to go into the handyman business ourselves. (Until our health fails.)

It looks like a good sideline for an independent cuss like you, in any case.

Good luck.
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Re: Whoe here uses a handyman to do work around the house?
Old 08-25-2006, 12:18 AM   #4
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Re: Whoe here uses a handyman to do work around the house?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ed_The_Gypsy
Sounds like a tight labor market where you are.
That sounds like the case. Small jobs tend to not be attractive to the established quality contractor. The time involved in giving estimates, travel, prep work, getting supplies, cleanup etc. all mean that the bigger jobs is where they make their real money. The only way they can stay profitable by doing small jobs is to charge more than they would if it was part of a larger project. If they can even be bothered to agree to do the small jobs. Some will come do small jobs, but the price you pay will be much more than it is really worth. The small guys that will do the small jobs tend to be less reliable, skilled, etc.
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Re: Whoe here uses a handyman to do work around the house?
Old 08-25-2006, 06:25 AM   #5
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Re: Whoe here uses a handyman to do work around the house?

I think Ed is right. I used a guy who did excellent work. If I had an emergency he would bump another job he had scheduled and take care of it. Eventually he was so busy he prioritized what could make him the most money and decided to do less of the small jobs. So he concentrated on the bigger more lucrative jobs and I haven't seen or heard from him in about a year. Back then he would always tell me that he was so busy with work that he needed an assistant but could never find someone who was reliable to do the work.
With your attitude and drive I think you'll do good in that business. Just make sure everything is above board, i.e. bonded, insured, licensed, etc. Soon you'll be so busy that you'll end up with the same problems as listed above.
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Re: Whoe here uses a handyman to do work around the house?
Old 08-25-2006, 06:35 AM   #6
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Re: Whoe here uses a handyman to do work around the house?

Leonidas you are absolutely correct. My dh use to do some handyman stuff, he had more than he could handle and would turn down jobs all the time. He made good money because he showed up when he said he would and finished the job on time, infact most times he over estimated the time it would take and would finish early. He stopped taking those jobs a few years ago and we still get calls from people begging him to do work.

If you can keep on schedule and not over book yourself I'd say you'll have a great business. People just want you to show up and do what you say you will. The biggest problem will be if it's something you can't do and need to depend on another contractor, don't let yourself get stuck in that position.
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Re: Whoe here uses a handyman to do work around the house?
Old 08-25-2006, 06:44 AM   #7
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Re: Whoe here uses a handyman to do work around the house?

I've pretty much given up hiring anyone to do anything...NOBODY does what they say they are going to do, when they say, and for the price they say.

If you find someone that is good, does what they sya, when they say and charges a fair price - you can't hire them because they are busy.

Before I decided to just do it all myself, my criteria for wether or not I hired someone was if they returned my phonecall or not - not a good strategy.

I actually called 3 roofing companies last week to get prices on a complete strip/redo...no one even bothered to return the call.

Here is a absolutely true story:

About 5 years ago when I first moved into the house, I needed somone to close up/winterize the pool (I hadn't learned how yet). I setup an appt for 3 weeks away at 11AM.

At about 8:30AM *the day of the appt I call the place and confirm that the appt is still on "Yea sure, your on the schedule - I'll see you in a couple of hours"..

11AM - no one shows up
12 noon - none
3PM no one
5PM no one

etc, complete no show. I don't bother to call him back. Over the next few days I figured it all out and did it myself...job done.

About 4 weeks later (NO EXAGERATION) a pool truck pulls up the driveway and he is here to close the pool finally. I explain to him (in not so nice terms), that he was supposed to be here 4 weeks ago, and 2 hours before the appt he confirmed it and then did a no show...I told him I no longer needed him as I did it myself....

HE WAS PISSED..bitched and moan that he had a 1.5 hour round trip drive for nothing...went *on and on like somehow I was supposed to compensate him for his driving time (to which I laughed and sent him on his way).

I got loads of stories like this - now I just buy all the tools I'll ever need and do almost everything myself (except I don't work on gas lines!).

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Re: Whoe here uses a handyman to do work around the house?
Old 08-25-2006, 06:45 AM   #8
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Re: Whoe here uses a handyman to do work around the house?

There's a hugh gap finding handymen or responsible contractors for that matter. *I, like you, do almost everything when it comes to construction. *This actually contributed to my early retirement. *My house is a fixer that needed it's 60's pink, yellow, and blue bathrooms remodeled. *After weeks of frustrating waits, *missed appointments, no shows, and interviews with "questionable" contractors, just to get bids, I decided I could save enough doing the projects myself to retire early and reduce the stress of what surely was going to be a series of nightmares. * I've now finished 2 of the 3 bathrooms, and a hundred other jobs, *with far better results than I could have dreamed of using a contractor. *
If I ever start to get worried about running out of money, I'll rent myself out as a handyman, but so far, I'll just reap the benefits myself. * *
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Re: Whoe here uses a handyman to do work around the house?
Old 08-25-2006, 07:05 AM   #9
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Re: Whoe here uses a handyman to do work around the house?

My mother has the same problem. She is not cheap with her money, and will pay a premium price for good work. She just can't find anyone to do odd jobs and small repairs around her house.

Heck, we had a hard time finding someone to install a septic system on our land a couple of years ago. But things are slowing down and I expect more folks will be looking for work.
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Re: Whoe here uses a handyman to do work around the house?
Old 08-25-2006, 11:58 AM   #10
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Re: Whoe here uses a handyman to do work around the house?

Where I lived before, I had a retired high school shop teacher who was wonderful. He was also good a showing you how to do something(loved to teach). He was also frugal and I felt very comfortable giving him a key to come and go as he wanted until he finished a project.

He was one of the thing that was hard to leave when I I moved two states away, and couldn't talk him into coming with me . Ha ha.

now I am kinda on my own. I do end up calling my out of state brother to coach me through repairing things myself.
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Re: Whoe here uses a handyman to do work around the house?
Old 08-25-2006, 12:12 PM   #11
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Re: Whoe here uses a handyman to do work around the house?

I have a friend who does work like this. He charges $45 an hour, shows up on time, does a good job, and is booked 6-8 weeks out. He gets his work from Craigslist and from referrals from satisfied customers. As Ed said, the bigger outfits won't bother to come out for small jobs... I've had this experience several times myself -- so there's definitely a market.

I think if you get a couple of good references, the sky's the limit as far as hours you can work, etc.

My friend loves it because he can, with 6-8 weeks planning, stop taking jobs and go traveling (his passion). He can return with the knowledge that his income stream is still waiting for him.

Best of Luck with this!
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Re: Whoe here uses a handyman to do work around the house?
Old 08-25-2006, 01:24 PM   #12
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Re: Whoe here uses a handyman to do work around the house?

For years, I didn't know how good I had it. My next door neighbor was a handyman and would take care of all kinds of things in the neighborhood. Quickly, efficiently and inexpensively, I should add. Then he moved and I am yet to find anybody in the same league.

I can find companies to do major repairs like roofing, siding, painting, plumbing and AC, but minor maintenace that I can't/won't do myself is a headache
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Re: Whoe here uses a handyman to do work around the house?
Old 08-25-2006, 02:54 PM   #13
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Re: Whoe here uses a handyman to do work around the house?

Quote:
Originally Posted by thefed
I perceive handymen as jobless vagrants trying to make a few bucks since they arent really employable....but there must be a few good ones out there (except the chais ie mr handyman, handyman conection etc)
Hey, I resemble that remark.* Our neighborhood is at that middle-age stage where I could earn thousands a month replacing the same models of leaky faucets and water heaters on both sides of the street.*

Oh, wait, that sounds like a lot of work.

Now that we're ER'd we do as much of our own work as we can. As much as I'd love to use a crane or a 60-foot hose on a grout pump, I'm probably going to have trouble finding them at United Rent-All. But we're control freaks who prefer to work on our schedule to our quality with our own extra features that most contractors could never make a profit at.

Good handymen are in short supply.* You've found a market niche, but the customers tend to be much more demanding and much more unreasonable about your work.* When customers show you a rotten shower tile wall with water seeping and mold/mildew following the water stains, they'd never question the judgment of a licensed plumber.* Yet they will argue with (unlicensed) handymen about "just touching up the grout".* And when you walk away from that estimate (with a smile!) they'll think that you have no idea what you're doing.

Some states also limit the dollar value of the work you're allowed to do, and one or two localities may even forbid you to touch electricity or plumbing due to liability concerns.* So unless they're friends & relatives, your customers tend to be self-selecting for (1) cheap and (2) illegal modifications.* A few of those hairballs will have you longing to be flipping your own real estate again.

There are several handyman franchises floating around. You could either emulate one of them or start your own.

I'm happy to help a neighbor with a project, but most of them are too busy to do for themselves and too embarrassed to ask me to do it for them while they're at work.* So I charge $25/hour for one or two neighbors who feel better about paying someone and who never abuse the privilege.* (The yummy baked goods help too...)* Lately I've started taking our kid with me and teaching her the skills for a portion of my wages.* She can't believe that people would pay her A WHOLE $25 AN HOUR to fix a leaky faucet.* For a while there she was even wondering why she would want to go to college.

Quote:
Originally Posted by OldMcDonald
(except I don't work on gas lines!).
You'd be surprised at how much easier it is to work a gas line than plumbing pipes.* Provided, of course, that you don't smoke on the job!
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Re: Whoe here uses a handyman to do work around the house?
Old 08-25-2006, 05:13 PM   #14
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Re: Whoe here uses a handyman to do work around the house?

This isn't a handyman story, but a story about finding skilled help for important repairs. I have a 340 foot well with a submersible pump. A few weeks ago I noticed a leak at the base of the pressure tank. Looked like it was from a pipe junction. It must have been there a lot longer, because the wooden floor of the well house was rotting.

A plumber came by- he wanted $800, but he wouldn't promise me it wouldn't be more. Plus, I didn't like his vibe.

So I just let it leak, and found a well service/driller guy who came out today. While he ran for some parts, I put in a new floor. Just luck that I had the materials lying around, because I haven’t been doing much maintenance lately. He did the job and replaced the tank with a spare I have on hand, for $300 including about $100 worth of parts. He was here for 5 hours. I might have been able to do it, but meanwhile I would have been without water for a long time while I scratched my head, called people asking for advice, etc. This is not a Home Depot type of job.

That is the good news. The bad news is that my 328 feet of well pipe, and my 1 1/2 HP pump that hangs on the end of all that pipe are dying. So this will cost me quite a bit more. I did it 20 years ago, and it cost $850 then- with me assisting the well guy wrenching the pipe.

Still, this guy knows what is up, he is pleasant, and he seems to give value. And there is no way I can just defer it. The pump would burn up, and I would be out of water.

I weird coincidence – he was born on the same day as I. Neither of use had ever met anyone before with our same birthday.

Ha
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Re: Whoe here uses a handyman to do work around the house?
Old 08-25-2006, 05:31 PM   #15
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Re: Whoe here uses a handyman to do work around the house?

Quote:
Originally Posted by HaHa
That is the good news. The bad news is that my 328 feet of well pipe, and my 1 1/2 HP pump that hangs on the end of all that pipe are dying. So this will cost me quite a bit more. I did it 20 years ago, and it cost $850 then- with me assisting the well guy wrenching the pipe.
Here is a more recent job for price comparison: Thanks to a lightning strike, I had to replace my 2hp submersible pump and all 540 feet of pump wiring (no pipe was replaced). That was two years ago and the total cost was just over $2,000.

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Re: Whoe here uses a handyman to do work around the house?
Old 08-25-2006, 06:26 PM   #16
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Re: Whoe here uses a handyman to do work around the house?

Quote:
Originally Posted by REWahoo!
Here is a more recent job for price comparison: Thanks to a lightning strike, I had to replace my 2hp submersible pump and all 540 feet of pump wiring (no pipe was replaced).* That was two years ago and the total cost was just over $2,000.*

And with the recent rise in copper prices (sub cable and motor windings) you'd better grab onto your a$$ when you get a new quote.
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Re: Whoe here uses a handyman to do work around the house?
Old 08-25-2006, 07:50 PM   #17
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Re: Whoe here uses a handyman to do work around the house?

Thanks guys for the good cheer!

I got a quote from this guy-

Pump 1.5 HP Gould, 10 gpm.............$1269
Pipe (330 ')...................................$513
Wire (330')....................................$622.75
Check Valve...................................$28
Labor............................................$ 992
Total...........................................$3 424.75

Yikes yikes and double yikes!* :P

I'll talk to another driller on Monday or Tuesday. Meanwhile, what do you guys think? Seems like a lot of labor to me, but it has been 20 years since I did this.

Ha
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Re: Whoe here uses a handyman to do work around the house?
Old 08-25-2006, 08:22 PM   #18
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Re: Whoe here uses a handyman to do work around the house?

I dug out my invoice from two years ago:

Labor: 7 hrs @ $55/hr........... 385
Pump: Aermotor 2hp 8gpm.... 1,518
Wire: 500 ft #8 ..................... 645
Misc parts: ............................ 13
Tax: ..................................... 94
Total $2,655

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Re: Whoe here uses a handyman to do work around the house?
Old 08-25-2006, 09:15 PM   #19
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Re: Whoe here uses a handyman to do work around the house?

Thanks Wahoo.

If I can't get a better bid from someone I think will do it right, I'll see if this guy will work with me on the labor.

Unfortunately, they know I can't put the work off very long.

Ha
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Re: Whoe here uses a handyman to do work around the house?
Old 08-25-2006, 09:35 PM   #20
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Re: Whoe here uses a handyman to do work around the house?

I paid approx $1000 a few months ago. I don't have the paperwork here, but my pump was much less expensive than what you guys paid (now I'm worried!). My well is 200' deep (water level is just 50' below grade), I didn't buy new wire, and (so far) everything is okay. They guy who put it in is the same guy who put in the last one at this house 20 years ago.

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