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A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

13 Things a Handyman Won’t Tell You (But Every Homeowner Should Know)

How to find the most trustworthy handyman for the job, the household things you can fix yourself, and your handyman's biggest pet peeve.

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The interesting point of view from a man pushing a lawn mower.ARENA Creative/Shutterstock

No one can do it all

If your handyman says he can “do it all,” that’s a red flag. I’ve seen a guy who advertises on his truck that he mows grass, paints, does renovations, and builds houses. That’s not the guy you want to hire. Actually, a sure sign that you can trust me is if I tell you I’m not the best person to do a particular job and give you the name of someone else. These homecare tips will save you stress, money, and time.

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water flows into a sink in a white sink, a close-up photoAles Munt/Shutterstock

Try it yourself first

Before you call me about your clogged sink or shower drain, try a plunger or a Zip-It drain-cleaning tool. Neither requires you to take anything apart, and both often do the trick in just a minute or two.

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Hygiene. Cleaning Hands. Washing hands,Top view.Summer Photographer/Shutterstock

Let us use your bathroom

Offering me water or some cookies is great, but if you really want to show me hospitality, let me know that it’s OK for me to use your bathroom. It’s always a pain to have to jump into my truck and drive somewhere to answer nature’s call. If you need more than a handyman, check out these secrets to finding a home renovation contractor you can trust.

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Building master with drilling machine. Professional carpenter working with wood and building tools in house. Stasique/Shutterstock

Watch out for franchise employees

The advantage of hiring a handyman from a national franchise is that he’s usually screened and trained and has a boss you can complain to if there’s a problem. But you may also end up with an employee who doesn’t care as much about quality, and you almost always will pay a higher price.

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We’re always learning

Sometimes I still have to look up how to do something before I do a job (YouTube is the best!). A good handyman stays up to date on new products and trends and is always open to learning something.

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Close-up Of Person Hand Applying Silicone Sealant With Silicone Gun On WindowAndrey_Popov/Shutterstock

Inspect your house

Houses don’t take care of themselves. It’s on you to inspect yours at least once a year: Do you need to caulk around your windows and doors? Do you have any rotted wood? Are any shingles loose? It’s a lot less expensive to hire me to address those things than to replace them after years of neglected maintenance. These are things smart homeowners do every month.

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Young smiling friends talking in cafe while drinking coffeeDean Drobot/Shutterstock

Tell your friends about us

If I’m any good, I really don’t need to advertise, because I get plenty of work through word of mouth. When I started my business, I put a magnet on my truck with my phone number. After about six months, I had to take it off because I was getting too many calls.

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Money and worker concept. hundred dollar on the wooden table with hammer imrankadir/Shutterstock

We charge more when we’re really busy

I may give you a different price than the one I gave someone else for the same job. Why? Some of us charge more when we’re really busy. Or if I go into a house and it’s positively filthy, I’ll raise the price because I don’t want to work there. These are things all contractors wish first-time home buyers knew.

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Man in a blue shirt does window installation.Elizaveta Galitckaia/Shutterstock

Ask before you throw things away

Before you throw something out, ask whether I can repair it. I’ve fixed broken doors and window frames, furniture, toys, and even a medical bed. One time, my neighbor put his lawn mower out on the curb and headed to the store for a new one. I rescued and fixed it before he got home with the replacement.

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Constructor's tools on construction site - renovation concept.Lighthunter/Shutterstock

Ask if you can help out

On a budget? Ask if there is any way you can help out in exchange for a lower price. Even if you’re not handy, I may reduce my rate on a big job if you can haul materials for me or if you are willing to clean up the work mess at the end of each day. These clever home improvement ideas all cost less than $200.

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business, finances, payment, charity and people concept - close up of hands giving and receiving dollar moneySyda Productions/Shutterstock

It’s a red flag if we ask to be paid in cash

If a handyman asks to be paid in cash, he probably doesn’t have a business bank account, or he might not be claiming all his income on his taxes. If I don’t have the integrity to pay my taxes, do you think I’ll have the integrity to do good work when you’re not looking?

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Installation of door lock using a screwdriver to. Carpenter at lock installation with electric drill into wood door. Installation lock. Carpenter installation. electric drill. screwdriverVolodymyr Plysiuk/Shutterstock

We’ll charge you for extra jobs

Sure, I would be happy to fix your sticky door or tighten that faucet now that I’m here. But don’t act surprised when I charge you for it. We make a big part of our living from those “while you’re here” jobs.

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Boxer Mix Dog Laying on Gray Sofa at Home Looking in WindowAnna Hoychuk/Shutterstock

Control your pets

Please. Do. Something. With. The. Dog. And I don’t mean lock him in the bedroom, where he’ll bark all day while you’re gone. See if someone can keep him for the day. There’s a learning curve with owning a home for the first time, get ahead of it with these 35 things every homeowner needs to know ASAP.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest