Description of Job
• Perform almost any minor repair or maintenance chore for homeowners.
• Be available on short notice for urgent jobs.
• Supervise subcontractors and licensed plumbers and electricians.
Have you heard the old joke about the definition of homeowners? They’re people
who sleep in their own bed at night but live at the hardware store!
Every house needs care. Older houses need repairs to essential systems, from
leaky sinks to broken light switches. New homes need to have curtains and
shades hung and minor landscaping; some homeowners need help in assembling
gas grills or putting bicycles together. Houses in between new and old need all
sorts of touch-ups, refurbishments, and installations.
Even the most handy of homeowners may not have time to work around the
house—or may just need help from time to time. Examples of jobs include
changing smoke detectors, caulking windows and bathtubs, touch-up painting or
staining, changing locks, replacing light fixtures, installing garage door openers,
driveway sealing, repairing screens, and installing weather stripping.
A handyperson is capable enough to do almost any job around the house and
smart enough to know when to call in an expert. It is important to know when to
draw the line; unless you have the qualifications, you should not perform substantial work on electrical, plumbing, heating, or cooling systems. (That doesn’t
mean you can’t change a light switch, hang a chandelier, fix a leaky faucet,
change the filters on a heating system, or make simple adjustments to an air conditioner.)
You also have to know your own abilities; don’t promise something you are
not capable of completing in a professional manner.
You should be able to assist your client with your own list of plumbers and
electricians and other professionals for more complex jobs, and you should be
willing to take on the role of contractor to supervise their work.
You’ll have to learn how to keep more than one client at a time happy. One
customer may think that his or her blocked rain gutter is more important than
someone else’s broken storm door.
Know the Territory
You’ll need some natural skill as a handyperson, augmented by experience. Read
books on home repair, visit hardware and home centers, and consult Internet web
sites for information about projects. (Some home centers offer free classes on
Get to know area tradespeople.
How to Get Started
Make people aware of your services through ads and flyers placed in home centers, hardware stores, and community centers. Include postings at area senior
centers, as older homeowners are a large market for handyperson services.
Place an ad in local newspapers and shopping guides. Church and club bulletins are also helpful.
Contact area licensed professionals to find out about their services and to let
them know about your availability. They may be able to steer some simple jobs
your way in return for calls from your client for their services.
You’ll need a basic set of tools. Complex and/or expensive tools can often be
rented for particular jobs. A good collection of home repair books and access to
the Internet will be of great value.
Up-front expenses include advertising and promotion.
How Much to Charge
Bill for jobs on an hourly basis; add charges for any hardware or supplies you
must purchase, plus the cost of any rented equipment.
If you will be on call for a number of jobs, it’s good business practice to ask
for an advance payment equal to several days’ worth of work; your actual hours
will be subtracted from this retainer
Legal and Insurance Issues
Special notes: In dealing with your client’s property, seek to limit your liability
for damage or loss to the actual replacement value of items in your possession.
You should protect yourself against claims for sentimental value or loss of use.
Discuss with the attorney any prior legal problems you may have encountered and seek advice about whether they need to be disclosed to clients.