Any property repair services are only as good as the people and the tools behind them. That’s why we use only the latest repair and maintenance equipment on every job, no matter how small. Part of our job is to ensure your house is up-to-date and looking its best, so we use only the best resources available in order to make that happen. We offer a variety of handyman services throughout the DC area, including all of the following:
Periodic maintenance also falls under the general class of home repairs. These are inspections, adjustments, cleaning, or replacements that should be done regularly to ensure proper functioning of all the systems in a house, and to avoid costly emergencies. Examples include annual testing and adjustment of alarm systems, central heating or cooling systems (electrodes, thermocouples, and fuel filters), replacement of water treatment components or air-handling filters, purging of heating radiators and water tanks, defrosting a freezer, vacuum refrigerator coils, refilling dry floor-drain traps with water, cleaning out rain gutters, down spouts and drains, touching up worn house paint and weather seals, and cleaning accumulated creosote out of chimney flues, which may be best left to a chimney sweep.
How well do the franchise chains perform? One Wall Street Journal reporting team did an informal assessment by hiring handymen all over the United States and asking them to fix a wide range of problems, from a relatively routine leaky faucet to a sticky door. The reporter concluded that "with few licensing requirements and standards for the industry, prices are all over the board." One quote was ten times as large as another. Further, the reporter concluded "A big corporate name is no guarantee of quality or speedy service." One corporate firm took three weeks to fix a stuck door. Service varied from spotty to good, with complaints about unreturned phone calls, service people standing on dining room chairs, leaving holes between wood planking, but liked getting multiple jobs done instead of just one. Customers liked handymen wearing hospital booties (to avoid tracking dirt in houses). The reporter chronicled one experience with repairing a water-damaged ceiling. A franchise firm fixed it for $1,530; a second (non-franchise local handyman) fixed a similar ceiling for $125. The reporter preferred the second worker, despite the fact that he "doesn't have a fancy van -- or carry proof of insurance". Tips for selecting a good handyman include: ask questions, get written estimates on company stationery, make sure handymen guarantee their work, pay with credit cards or checks because this provides an additional record of each transaction, check references and licenses, review feedback about the contractors from Internet sites. To find a competent worker, one can seek referrals from local sources such as a school or church or office park, to see if a staff handyman does projects on the side, as well as ask friends for referrals; a general contractor might have workers who do projects on the side as well. Further, one can try out a new handyman with easy projects such as cleaning gutters to see how well they perform.
Many people can do common household repairs. There are resources on the Internet, as well as do-it-yourself guide books, with instructions about how to complete a wide range of projects. Sometimes the fix-it skill is seen as genetic, and people lacking such skills are said to "lack the handy-man gene". One trend is that fewer homeowners are inclined to do fix-up jobs, perhaps because of time constraints, perhaps because of lack of interest; one reporter commented "my family's fix-it gene petered out before it reached my generation."
Ask about companies’ hourly labor rates and how many workers are included in the rates (some send two workers to every job). Also ask about minimum charges. Many handyperson services have minimums of two hours or more, and some tack on a half-hour of labor or more for travel time (most home services charge the same fees for travel time regardless of where customers live). If the jobs on your list can be done in an hour, don’t hire a company that charges a three-hour minimum. Because many handyperson services bill labor charges in one-hour increments, have a few optional jobs ready in case you need to fill up a worker’s hour.
Instead of forking over $5,000-10,000 to replace all of your old windows with brand new ones, consider repairing old windows yourself. With a few hundred dollars in supplies (sand paper, paint, window glaze, etc.), you’ll be prepared to reglaze every window in your house. Though it can be a tad time consuming, you can prioritize the project by room, removing windows one by one to paint, reglaze, and, if necessary, replace any cracked glass. Get started glazing your windows here.
If you don’t cover paint chips with touch up paint, they’ll rust and then you’ll have a much bigger problem on your hands. The actual touch up is easy. Just buy touch up paint, fine tip paint applicators and wax and grease remover from any auto parts store. Clean the chip with the wax and grease remover and let it dry. Then dip the applicator in the paint and dab it onto the chip. Don’t add too much or the paint will drip. Let it dry completely and apply wax after 30 days. Get the full guide to using auto touch-up paint here.
The table below reports labor charges for one to six hours of work (per worker) for a sample of area handyperson services. (Rates were collected by our telephone shoppers who did not disclose their affiliation with Consumers' Checkbook.) As you can see, there are big differences: For one hour of work, you can pay between $50 and $259; for six hours between $300 and $774. The table also shows companies’ hourly rates.
Upholstery shops charge almost $200 to fix tears in your seats. You can do it yourself in a few hours with a vinyl and leather repair kit (less than $20) from any auto parts store. You’ll have to practice a bit to get the right color mix and it might not be a perfect match when you’re done, but it’s a heck of a lot better than driving around with torn seats. Start by gluing reinforcing fabric onto the underside of the torn vinyl or leather. Then mix the heat-set filler to match your fabric color and apply it to the tear. Next, find a textured mat that most closely resembles the texture of your vinyl or leather and place it onto the liquid filler. Heat the patching tool with a clothes iron and press it onto the textured mat. Remove the patching tool, but leave the textured mat in place until the patch cools. Then peel it off. Get the full story on repairing leather here.