Examples of less frequent home maintenance that should be regularly forecast and budgeted include repainting or staining outdoor wood or metal, repainting masonry, waterproofing masonry, cleaning out septic systems, replacing sacrificial electrodes in water heaters, replacing old washing machine hoses (preferably with stainless steel hoses less likely to burst and cause a flood), and other home improvements such as replacement of obsolete or ageing systems with limited useful lifetimes (water heaters, wood stoves, pumps, and asphaltic or wooden roof shingles and siding.
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.
When you hire handyman services, you need to be sure that the team is going to turn up on time. Nothing is more frustrating than being given an 8 hour arrival window, forcing you to take a day off of work to sit around and wait. And nothing is more frustrating than a last minute cancellation. When you book handyman services through Handy, you can be sure that they'll arrive at the time you request. We’ll connect you with the right people for the job so you can worry about the things that really need your attention—not fixing that light fixture.
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.
To fix a squeaky floor under carpet, locate the floor joists with a stud finder, then drive in a trim head screw through the carpet, pad and subfloor, and right into the floor joist. Be sure the top inch of the screw doesn’t have threads or the subfloor won’t suck down tight to the joist. We like trim screws because screws with larger heads pull down and pucker the carpet. If that happens, back out the screw and drive it back down. Keep adding screws until the squeak stops. Try these other squeaky floor fixes.
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.
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.
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.
A handyman is not the best option for a large or complicated project that could take a long time to complete and requires the help of multiple workers. You shouldn't turn to a handyman either if you need an emergency service for plumbing, electrical or appliance work, unless the handyman is licensed in that trade. If an unlicensed person does plumbing or electrical work, you have no guarantee that the work has been done to code, which could affect your homeowners insurance policy or any claim related to the work. Use a contractor or specialist for remodeling work, room additions and projects that require heavy-duty equipment or licensed professionals like electricians.
The term handyman increasingly describes a paid worker, but it also includes non-paid homeowners or do-it-yourselfers. Tasks range from minor to major, from unskilled to highly skilled, and include painting, drywall repair, remodeling, minor plumbing work, minor electrical work, household carpentry, sheetrock, crown moulding, and furniture assembly (see more complete list below.) The term handyman is occasionally applied as an adjective to describe politicians or business leaders who make substantial organizational changes, such as overhauling a business structure or administrative division.