Handyman or Contractor?

Archived Q&A and Reviews

When to use a handyman

April 1999

Since I use many different service providers to do work on an apartment building I thought I would pass along some advice. Handymen are great for the right jobs. Their prices are cheap (usually $20-$25 an hour) and they are willing to do work that is usually not desired by a general contractor: Things such as installing a light fixture, fixing a phone jack or light plumbing. My experience has been that their attention to detail is somewhat lacking and I don't use them to do anything that requires precision work (laying carpet, laying tile, carpentry, etc.) I know there are handymen that have these skills but this has been my experience. Precision jobs require people that have specific skills and expertise and they will charge accordingly. My advice for using a handyman if you haven't before is to first have them do something rather simple in order to test their competence and skill. As you get to know them over time you'll discover what they are best at and where their weaknesses are. If they botch a simple job you can mark it up to experience and continue your search for someone with the right skills for your job. -- Kathy