Everything from that squeaky door to the leaky faucet has been getting on your nerves, and you’ve decided it’s time to take care of them all at once. Hiring a handyperson service is an excellent way to cross everything off this to-do list in a hurry.
However, even if you’ve got a reliable handyperson on speed-dial, you might not be sure if you should hire that person or a licensed trade specialist for the work. How can you tell the difference?
First up, go ahead and ask your handyperson if he or she is capable of handling it. An honest pro should be able to give a clear answer. You can also research local regulations and find out what needs a license. Many cities have their licensing requirements online or staff who will be happy to answer specific questions.
Licensing requirements vary significantly by state, but generally speaking, small jobs like fixing leaky faucets or replacing a light switch don’t require a license. However, anything that gets into the guts of the pipes or wiring is likely to need a license.
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Large jobs that involve multiple workers and/or significant investment, such as a remodel or addition, usually require a licensed general contractor to oversee.
Here are typical jobs you can usually hire a handyperson to take care of:
— Replacing small electrical components, such as thermostats, light switches and outlets
— Repairing drywall
— Fixing leaks
— Hanging shelving
— Hanging doors
— Repairing woodwork
— Replacing window glass
— Wiring home theater components
Here are some examples of jobs that commonly require a licensed specialist:
— Adding a stairway
— Installing a new roof
— Installing a fireplace or wood stove
— Building a raised deck
— Installing or replacing certain plumbing fixtures such as water heaters
— Major remodeling
— Putting in new windows
— Building a retaining wall to block soil or erosion
— Any work requiring the repair or modification of the existing electrical, plumbing or gas systems
A few additional tips:
Some handy services do carry specialty licensing or have particular trades on staff, so don’t hesitate to ask if they have a plumber or electrician available for licensed work.
Whether you hire a handy service or specialty contractor, make sure it carries liability insurance and acquire whatever permits are required for the job.
Most handy service companies charge by the hour, and often their jobs take much less time than that. To get the most out of your handyperson’s time, prepare a list in advance of all the small jobs you’d like to be covered in one visit. The person you hire to fix some drywall and mount a TV might also be able to repair a leak or hang a light fixture while already at your house.
Make sure you know ahead of time who’ll be responsible for supplying materials. If you have specific materials you’d like to be used for your project, you’ll save time by purchasing them in advance and not have to be charged for the handyperson’s time to pick them up.
10 items in your garage you can toss right now
Broken or duplicate tools
You probably don’t need five hammers, and that broken drill is just collecting dust on a shelf. Take stock of your tool collection, and consolidate so you don’t have an overflowing toolbox (or too many bulky bins filled with tools).
Chances are you have no use for that old clunky computer printer and fax machine from the early ’90s. “If it’s in the garage, there’s a 90% chance that your old CPU is not worth the time it would take you to bring it back up to speed for day-to-day use,” says organizing and storing expert Emma Gordon of Clutter.com. “It’s better to find a recycling program that can take it off your hands.”
Old newspapers, magazines and catalogs
“You’re not going to read these again,” says Gordon. “If they’ve been banished from the house to the garage, they need to go.” If you can’t part with all of them, allow yourself to keep a few special editions or issues. Donate or recycle the rest.
Plastic planter trays
“It’s tempting to keep the trays after popping our spring blooms,” says Gordon. “Unless you’re a regular gardener, there’s no reason to keep these trays after transplanting. Clear them out so you don’t have to deal with spiders or other garage critters that will make a home in them.”
Old paint cans
Face it: You’re not going to use that hideous color of paint anywhere in your house. If you think you might need to touch up any of the rooms in your house, figure out which can of paint goes with which room, and label it with the room (dining room) and color (linen white). Remember that you can’t throw away full (or partially full) paint cans, so you’ll either need to find a hazardous-waste collection site or pour clean kitty litter in the can to dry up any remaining paint before disposing of the kitty litter and paint, and recycling the can.
Unused DIY project materials
While you’re clearing cans from old home-improvement projects, toss out old materials from DIY projects. “Almost every garage in America has a flimsy aluminum paint tray coated in house paint, with a matching roller in a crumpled grocery bag,” Gordon says. “As homeowners, we like to think we’re going to get more than one use out of our paint brushes, trays and other DIY tools, but it’s more likely we’ll forget and buy these items again anyway. The only reason to save otherwise disposable DIY tools would be if you have a project in mind that you plan to tackle soon.”
Old sports equipment
“Toss out balls if they don’t hold air anymore,” says Gordon. Same goes for broken tennis rackets, skis, helmets and more. If one of your kids no longer plays a sport, donate the used gear to a thrift store that accepts sports equipment.
Old shoes and clothes
“I promise you won’t miss the clothes and shoes you’re storing in the garage,” says Gordon. “These are the items that you don’t even have in your weekly outfit rotation, and if they haven’t been kept in an airtight container, they will require a lot of laundering to nix the garage fumes and dust.”
Sadly, your beloved tape collection is now obsolete. “Remember the static or flipping over to the ‘B-side’? Compared to streaming services, these outdated forms of entertainment require a lot of fussing,” says Gordon. “Make a quick list of the albums and movies you consider staples for your household, and plan to purchase in digital format.”
Bring that old chair you’ve been meaning to reupholster for years, or those old and outdated holiday decorations, to the thrift store or a donation center. If you can’t imagine placing them back inside your house anytime soon, you should say goodbye to those pieces.