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.
Even tasks that seem relatively small can add up. Consider the French doors that David Sievers, 53, and his wife, Ulin Sargeant, 47, installed two years ago to replace sliding glass doors on their two-bedroom house in Monrovia, Calif. The doors cost $2,000. But then they paid $1,700 for installation, $500 for a painter to restore the stucco and paint, and $1,600 for an engineering plan required by the city.
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.
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