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Here in South Africa hiring a handyman can be a tricky business. How do you know if you are getting quality work at the right price? What happens when something goes wrong - will the professional you hire still be in business tomorrow?

 

As part and parcel of our DIY Divas workshops we try to educate and inform as much as possible on the methods used in various repairs and improvements in and around the home, so that when the time comes to hire someone to do a job - you have an understanding of what's involved. Not only to ensure that you aren't getting ripped off price-wise, but also to ensure that the job is being done properly.

The DIY Divas understand that you are not going to want to do every job yourself, and that there may be times when you need a handyman to do it for you. Read up on a few tips that will help you in hiring the right handyman.

Jack of all trades - master of none

Be wary of any handyman who professes to do it all. Electricians and plumbers are required to have a license and anyone who does electrical work or plumbing without a license is breaking the law.

“Jack of all trades - master of none" is a saying my dad used regularly. He considered himself a handyman of note, but only when it came to menial and common repairs. If you need to fix and electrical problem or have new plumbing installed - go to the professionals. While they may be more expensive, the reality is that any licensed electrician is going to stick with what he knows because he’ll make more money doing electrical work than general handyman projects.

Reputation comes at a price

If a quote is too good to be true, chances are it is. There is a fair market value for every service and it all depends on the type of work involved. By knowing what is involved in a particular task, you know how much work needs to be done, the materials required to complete the job and how long each project should take.

While hiring a handyman may be a cheaper option in many instances, a professional will be able to diagnose a problem faster or install something cheaper.

Be wary of contractors who quote by the hour or day for a larger repair and rather settle for a total quote that stipulates a time frame.

Put together a list of exactly what is to be repaired or installed and where. This includes making a list of job completion expectations and acceptable substitutes. This is important for ensuring both parties are on the same page for repair or remodel.

Never pay in full in advance and never pay more than 50 percent in advance. Ensure that at least 25 percent of the project cost is paid after work completion and you are satisfied with work. Before you sign off and make the final payment the project should meet the requirements of your contact and offer warranties. There have been too many instances where projects paid for up front never see completion.

Ask for references

First and foremost, look for a business that has been around for some time and has testimonials to back them up, particularly if any guarantee is offered on completed work. It's OK to source a contractor online by using services such as Handyman Direct, as long as you do your homework first - and get estimates from at least three handyman services.

Always ask for a list of references, preferably individuals who live nearby. And don't be afraid to inquire about the reference's relationship to the company. For example, some realtors will provide a list of local service providers, but sometimes there is a kickback. The best place to start for recommendations is your friends.

One of the best ways to hire a handyman is via word of mouth. If you know you neighbours have recently had some work done, talk to them about the service they received. However, there's nothing wrong with using an online service, as long as you make sure to check up; sites such as HelloPeter provide good and bad reports posted by consumers, and while some reports should be taken with a pinch of salt - you'll pretty much be able to suss out the good from the bad.

Here are a list of questions to ask:

- Was the project completed to your satisfaction?

- Would you use the contractor again?

- Is it possible to come and have a look at the project?