Ask This Before Hiring a Handyman in NYC

Written by Angie's List Staff
Updated February 3, 2016
tool belt with hammer and other handyman tools
Before hiring a handyman, ask questions to make sure you're getting the service you want. (Photo by Summer Galyan)

Arm yourself with these informative questions before hiring an NYC handyman.

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Often when hiring home improvement contractors such as handymen, asking the right questions holds the key to a happy hiring experience. Even if the project you need completed is relatively small, paying a contractor to come into your home and make repairs or improvement shouldn't be taken lightly.

And given the demand for handymen in the New York City tri-state area, there's a wide spectrum of available, from good to bad.

Use the following questions to parse out the best handyman to hire for your home improvement needs.

Can you provide references and proof of license and insurance?

Calling on a handyman's references will let you know if past customers have been happy with the work. Although many municipalities and states don't require a trade license for contractors who provide smaller home improvements, it's always a good idea to ask.

In New York City, any home improvement contractor performing work worth more than $200 total is required to hold a home improvement license. Check a handyman's license through the NYC Dept. of Consumer Affairs license verification website.

Finally, proof of insurance, both liability and workers' compensation if the handyman uses employees, can protect a homeowner from monetary damages if an accident occurs during the work.

What's your work experience?

Although handymen are generally considered jacks-of-all-trades, most will have particular areas of expertise. Before hiring a handyman, make sure they have the skills necessary to complete the work to your satisfaction. Find out how much they really know about the project and if they have any suggestions to offer.

What are handyman prices?

Does the handyman service provide free estimates? How does it charge for work? Is there a service charge?

Learn as much as you can about how your prospective handyman structures his or her billing. For smaller jobs, many handymen charge by the hour. For larger projects, a handyman may provide an estimated total, which may or may not include project materials.

How can I save money?

A quality handyman can provide suggestions for reducing your overall costs for the work. If you have a large list of small repairs, prioritize the list and ask the handyman to complete as many as possible within a given time slot, which can help you avoid multiple service charges. If the project requires materials to be purchased, ask about purchasing them yourself with the handyman's guidance.

Get the right price on handyman services

Does it require a down payment?

A bigger project that requires a large quantity of pre-purchased materials may require a down payment. However, be wary of a handyman who insists on a down payment for smaller labor-only projects.

Will you provide a written contract with warranties for workmanship?

Large or small, any project you hire a handyman for should have a written, signed contract that includes items to be completed and estimated time of completion. Should something go awry once a handyman leaves, a written warranty can help you recover costs or get necessary repairs completed.

Are you thinking about hiring a handyman for your odd jobs? Share your thoughts and concerns in the comments section!

Editor's note: This is an updated version of an article originally published on Oct. 26, 2011.

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