Hiring a handyman is a great way to get much-needed household tasks off your to-do list that you can’t or don’t want to tackle yourself. Think of a handyman as a friendly, knowledgeable helper who can fix the little annoyances around your home. A paint touch-up, a leaky faucet, and broken floor tiles are quick fixes for an expert handyman. While handymen and women are usually professional and practiced, they can also be one of the most complained-about household contractors. Whether you’ve been burned before or want to hire a handyperson who can get the job done right, asking questions ahead of the job is a crucial step in the process.

What are the right questions to ask when hiring a handyman? It comes down to asking questions clarifying their experience, knowledge, reliability, and setting expectations. When you begin a job with clear communication and a foundation of understanding, work happens more efficiently. Here are ten questions to ask a handyman before they start work on your home.

10 Questions to Ask A Handyman

1. What are your areas of expertise?

Fix-it lists for houses can get long and cover various jobs, each requiring a different skill set. While many handypeople consider themselves jack-of-all-trades, it’s crucial to dig deep when hiring a handyman. Asking for specifics about the complete list of work is the best way to discover which jobs a handyman can and can’t handle. And even if a handyperson assures you they can tackle electrical or plumbing work, remember these are complex household systems that can cause dangerous conditions when completed incorrectly. Fixing a clogged drain or a malfunctioning light fixture is common for most handymen. When you need components of systems replaced or have complex wiring needs, it’s best to look for a licensed specialist with the training to work safely and accurately.

2. Can you provide local references?

Handymen and women often rely on word of mouth and customer referrals to create a steady work stream. This fact means a reliable handyman should be able to provide you with a handful of local references. Good references should be able to tell you the scope of work completed, how long it took, and the quality of the work. They can also discuss how the experience of working with the handyman went so you know what to expect. You can also check online reviews if their services have an online presence. Checking online reviews and providing references is a great way to compare experiences.

3. Are you licensed, bonded, and insured?

While it may seem inconsequential to ensure a handyman doing simple, small tasks in your home are licensed, bonded, and insured, it’s the best way to protect yourself and your property. Remember, you could be liable for major unexpected expenses when someone working on your home gets injured. If an unlicensed handyperson damages your property, their insurance can cover those damages. If they don’t have insurance, you’re looking at a bigger job than before they started. When a handyman is licensed, it’s far more likely they have expertise in the specialized skills they need. Hiring a licensed, bonded, insured handyman keeps you safe and eliminates stressful surprises.

4. What is your current work schedule like?

Knowing the number of other jobs and projects a handyman is working on helps you understand their capacity for your job. Hiring a handyman who is already working at ten different sites might slow down your progress on your to-do list. This factor is also a great question for a handyman because it can start a conversation about expected timeframes before getting too far along in the hiring process.

5. How much will the labor and materials for this project cost?

This is one of the best questions to ask when hiring a handyman. Any experienced handyman should be able to give you a basic cost estimate before starting the job. Typically, the final cost should land within 10% of the original estimate. To create clear guidelines and expectations, request a written estimate ahead of time and confirm the handyperson agrees with the 10% rule. If they don’t, ensure you agree to a set cap of how much you will pay to protect you from price gouging.

6. How do you price your work?

Handymen typically either charge by the hour or for the project. This metric can change from project to project based on the scope of work, materials, and projected timeline. Jobs that might uncover hidden problems that need additional work (like fixing water damage) get billed hourly. A straightforward job (like straightening a door or rehanging a cabinet) gets billed as a fixed project price. Ask for a written quote that separates labor and materials ahead of time.

7. When will the work be done?

Talk through a clear timeline ahead of time that meets your scheduling needs and works with the handyman’s availability. It may only take a few hours to complete if it’s a small job. But if you have a long list of little jobs or a bigger job in mind, the work could take a few days or longer. Knowing how long the job will take helps you understand the total cost and how long the work will happen in your home. Ask for a general timeline in writing so you have something tangible to refer to if things get off track. And remember: a quicker timeline doesn’t always equate to a better option. Sometimes a handyman who gives you a realistic timeframe (even if it’s a bit longer) winds up providing you with higher-quality work and better attention to detail.

8. Do you have a written contract?

Because so many handymen network through friends, family members, or neighborhood word of mouth, your professional relationship with them can be slightly less structured. But a business transaction is a business transaction, and everyone needs to be clear on the parameters of the work. This procedure protects not only you but also the handyman as well. A well-written contract includes a complete description of the work, a general timeline, a quoted total price, and an agreement on payment.

9. Do you provide a guarantee?

Even the most experienced handyman can do a job that doesn’t hold up. There are various reasons why a handyman’s work might not hold. If this happens, it doesn’t necessarily indicate they were a wrong choice. A better way to confirm trust when hiring a handyman is to ask them if they provide a guarantee on their work. If they fix a broken toilet and it stops flushing again, will they come back to fix it without a secondary charge? If a fixture they install shorts out, will they replace it? What are the boundaries of their guarantee on their work? This variable is one of the best questions to ask when hiring a handyman to have peace of mind.

10. Will you be working alone, or will you have help?

While repairing a drafty window or installing replacement baseboards doesn’t take more than one person, some larger jobs may require additional help. Building a fence, installing new flooring, adding built-ins, or replacing aspects of a kitchen might mean your handyman needs an extra set of hands to get the job done right. An additional worker benefits you because the job gets done faster, safer, and better. But another worker can affect the overall price. When hiring a handyman, ask if they plan to have any assistance and how that will affect pricing to avoid invoice shock down the line.

Find and Hire a Handyman

It’s crucial to know how to find a handyman that meets your needs and can get your requested work done well. Asking the right questions and clearly understanding your agreement makes the job go smoothly for both parties. But where do you look when you need to hire a handyman? The first place to start is by asking people you trust for recommendations. Word of mouth is the most reliable way to find a handyman you can trust. Next, an online search is an excellent way to discover new options. Remember, an experienced handyman should always have excellent references as well as a proven history of customer satisfaction. Discuss multiple options to compare and contrast what’s available for exactly what you need. 

An experienced handyman or woman can help you cross off many little projects from your to-do list and restore a sense of comfort to your home. Keep these questions to ask a handyman close by when you start looking for the right person to work on your home. You’ll be able to get an accurate picture of how the work will be done and find someone who aligns with your needs and preferences. This list of questions to ask when hiring a handyman provides you with enough information to make an informed decision and establishes your expectations with whoever you hire so you get the best possible results.