You’ve got an ever increasing to-do list of home improvements like changing out a bathroom faucet, replacing missing shingles on the roof and painting a kitchen wall. You could hire a plumber, roofer and painter who have conflicting schedules and their own service charges, or you could hire a handyman to complete all three projects in one day for one hourly rate.
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Owning a home can be a dream come true, but the world of home ownership is more than just relaxing weekends on the deck and intimate evenings in front of the fireplace. It requires a commitment to keeping your private oasis safe and running smoothly. Making occasional repairs is part of the bargain, and even if you aren't a dedicated do-it-yourselfer (DIY), there are a few around-the-house fixes you should become familiar with.
To illustrate, we divided the handyperson services listed on the table below into three groups, based on their charges for four hours of work. The lowest priced one-third of the companies would charge $239 on average for four hours of work, and they were “recommended” by 96 percent of their customers whom we surveyed (see our ratings tables for handyperson services for ratings). In contrast, the highest priced one-third would charge $445 on average for four hours of work and were “recommended” by only 59 percent of their surveyed customers. Just the opposite of what many consumers would assume.
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.
So last year, Mr. Hark and Mr. Larivee, who works in digital marketing, sold their condo and moved to a four-bedroom house, also in West Orange. They now have to mow their lawn and shovel their driveway when it snows, but when they had a drainage problem in the backyard, they got to choose their contractor and schedule the job based on when it made the most financial sense for them.
Depending on where you live, national averages can seem like a steal. Rene Artale’s four-bedroom house near Newcastle, in Westchester County, N.Y., suffered some damage during a storm last winter. A tree fell in the yard, damaging her fence, arbor and retaining wall. And heavy snow caused her roof to leak. The repair bills just kept piling up. Removing the tree, $3,800. Repairing the wall, $4,000. Fixing the roof, $3,800. Fixing the picket fence, $2,800. “It’s obscene,” Ms. Artale, 47, said.
Homeowners tend to have a long list of smaller home repairs that never seem to get done. Many of us lack the time, expertise and tools to do home improvement tasks, including carpentry work, painting, installing windows and railings, adjusting doors, cleaning out gutters, repairing drywall and assembling furniture on their own. When it comes to finding a handyman, Austin homeowners look to the experts at ABC to get the job done right the first time.
Franchise handyman firms sometimes pitch clients by asking prospective customers about their unresolved "to-do lists". The firm does odd jobs, carpentry, and repairs. Trends such as a "poverty of time" and a "glut of unhandy husbands" has spurred the business. Technicians do a range of services including tile work, painting, and wallpapering. "One firm" charges $88 per hour. The firm targets a work category which full-fledged remodelers and contractors find unprofitable. A consumer was quoted by a reporter explaining the decision to hire one firm: "'I couldn't find anyone to come in and help me because the jobs were too small', said Meg Beck of Huntington, who needed some painting and carpentry done. She turned to one franchise firm and said she liked the fact that the service has well-marked trucks and uniformed technicians and that a dispatcher called with the names of the crew before they showed up." There are indications that these businesses are growing. There are different firms operating.
When a home is sold, inspections are performed that may reveal environmental hazards such as radon gas in the basement or water supply or friable asbestos materials (both of which can cause lung cancer), peeling or disturbed lead paint (a risk to children and pregnant women), in-ground heating oil tanks that may contaminate ground water, or mold that can cause problems for those with asthma or allergies. Typically the buyer or mortgage lender will require these conditions to be repaired before allowing the purchase to close. An entire industry of environmental remediation contractors has developed to help home owners resolve these types of problems.