How to Keep From Getting Ripped Off by Home Repairmen

Table of Contents

If you own a house, you know that things go wrong. Appliances eventually need repair and replacement. Paint gets scuffed up. Eventually, a doorknob is probably going to knock a hole into the drywall. A leaky faucet will need to be replaced. The windows need caulking.

The maintenance list goes on and on.

When you first move into a beautiful new house, you may think that you can just coast along and not have to worry about little maintenance things for years. But eventually, a honey-do list of small jobs piles up that you can’t keep putting off.

Like most people today, you probably don’t have the time and energy to work on all of these little home projects. So you want to find a handyman to take care of the list so you can enjoy living in a beautiful, well-kept home again.

But with so many people falling victim to scams these days, you are wise to be cautious.

Avoid being taken advantage of with these simple tips:

1. Do your homework and ask important questions:

  • Is it a licensed handyman or general contractor who is fully insured?
  • Is this contractor willing to give referrals or is this someone a trusted friend or family member recommends to you by word of mouth?
  • Have you called the customers on the referral list to be sure they were satisfied and to ask any burning questions you may have?
  • How are their online reviews?
  • Can you find any complaints against them with the Better Business Bureau?

2. Be weary of contractors who solicit door-to-door.

  • There are some contractors who canvas whole neighborhoods at a time who travel the country scamming people.
  • They often offer to fix your roof, paint your fence, pressure wash your house, or coat your driveway with tar.
  • They often demand full payment upfront.
  • These traveling groups tend to take people’s money and then either don’t do the work or do very shoddy work.
  • Make sure you use a local handyman service so that you can verify the address and know that the business is reputable.

3. For large projects, you may need a specialist contractor.

  • Don’t hire a professional handyman service who is geared toward smaller jobs if you are doing something big like a major renovation, putting in a new electrical panel,  or you want to redo all of the plumbing in the house.
  • Professional handymen can do a lot of things, but if you have one that doesn’t know his/her limits, you can end up in a mess.

4. Don’t hire someone who is too busy.

  • If he or she doesn’t have time to answer your questions, take your phone call, or do a thorough inspection of the job before giving a quick quote, this could be a red flag that this person is not going to give you the customer service and quality work you need.
  • When a handyman works to prove he/she will be on time, responsive, and willing to listen, that is a sign that this is someone to consider.

5. Don’t hire a contractor who demands full payment upfront.

  • If you choose to hire a handyman in your area like this, there is very little to stop him or her from taking the money and bailing out if the person is untrustworthy.
  • Find a handyman who only charges half the total cost upfront or less for the maintenance and repair work so that you have some kind of leverage financially in the deal and the handyman has to finish the job before getting paid in full.
  • Ask about the handyman’s rates per hour upfront or if the company charges a flat fee.
  • Ask for a written cost estimate before committing to a particular repair service.
  • The FTC recommends using a check or credit card.
  • This way you have some kind of financial record of the transaction.

7. Avoid high pressure sales tactics.

  • If someone tries to push you into spending a lot of money immediately or tries to scare you into using their services, stop and step back a bit.
  • It’s okay to get another estimate and opinion. It may just save you a lot of headache, hassle, and money to slow down and listen to your gut.
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