Unsatisfied With Handyperson Services? Here’s What To Do

Paige Bennett
Written by Paige Bennett
Updated November 8, 2021
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Disclaimer: This article does not constitute legal advice and is for educational and informational purposes only. We recommend that you seek input from an attorney before signing any contracts or taking legal action.

It’s exciting to take steps toward a big home improvement project you’ve been dreaming of. But paying a handyperson to help paint your house, install new lights, or repair drywall only to have the tasks left unfinished or improperly done can really put a damper on the whole process. A contract can help make the wrongs right, but it’s not a perfect solution. If you’re dealing with bad handyperson service, here are several courses of action to consider, from discussing the issues together to taking legal action.

Review Your Contract

You and your handyperson should have hammered out a contract to help outline timelines, expectations, and payments during the hiring process. Delays can happen, but if your handyperson takes two or three times as long to complete the project, you’ll want to consult the contract to make sure they are holding up their end of the deal.

Unfortunately, a contract won’t solve every issue. A bad handyperson may take the down payment, complete part of the project, and then disappear, leaving your concerned texts and calls unanswered.

Another non-ideal scenario could be if a handyperson doesn’t complete the job to high-quality standards. For example, say you hired a handyperson to paint the living room, but you find paint splotches along the ceiling and baseboards. The contract might not cover the quality of work. In this case, you may need to discuss your concerns with the handyperson and ask them to fix the issues or hire a different handyperson to redo the work.

Discuss Issues With the Handyperson or Company

If the work is being completed at a slow pace or wasn’t finished to quality standards, many contractors are open to discussing the timeline or returning to fix any shoddy work. Here are three tips for handling the follow-up conversation:

  • Talk in person rather than over the phone or via email.

  • Calmly discuss your complaints.

  • Consult your contract to outline expectations for both parties.

Communicating with your handyperson can sometimes resolve issues, but this won’t work in every case. If your handyperson did an unsafe job or completely disappeared in the middle of the project, another course of action may be needed.

End Any Open Contracts

If a handyperson has you concerned about the quality of their work or their professionalism, it’s probably time to let them go. If you need to end a project, there are several things to keep in mind to protect your home and prepare for a potential court case if the handyperson decides to take legal action for breaking a contract:

  • Take photos of the substandard work.

  • Closely review your contract and keep a copy of it.

  • Discuss ending the project with the handyperson in front of multiple witnesses, and consider offering a letter of termination as well. State that you are terminating the handyperson’s services effective immediately due to a breach of contract.

  • Ask the crew to return any keys to the house; change the code if you offered them a key code to enter your garage or home.

Stop Payments, If Necessary

It’s best practice to pay for the work completed thus far, but if you’re terminating a handyperson in the middle of the job, you may be able to retrieve your money for the unfinished portions of the job.

  • Consult the contract regarding the payment terms.

  • Pay the contractor for any milestones completed at the time of their termination.

  • If you sent the contractor checks for the entirety of the project, call your bank for a stop payment on uncashed checks for uncompleted work.

The U.S. Department of Justice offers a hub that can lead you to your state’s attorney general to file complaints against a handyperson or contracted service providers. The Department of Justice outlines multiple issues that may lead you to take legal action, including:

  • Deceptive practices, financial loss, or theft

  • Incomplete or poorly done work

  • Excessive fees for completed work

Once you contact your state’s attorney general, they can give you more information about what happens next. The legal process may vary from state to state.

If your handyperson did a substandard job, you might want to seek legal action through mediation in your local courts. 

If a contractor breaks your contract, you may need to hire a construction lawyer. A consultation with a construction lawyer may cost $300 to $800, but they can determine whether or not you have a civil suit. If you win the civil suit, you can recoup lost costs, or the court may require the handyperson to fix any poorly completed work.

Hire a New Handyperson

If your first handyperson leaves the work incomplete, or you don’t want them to return to fix the job, it’s time to start the process of hiring a new, trusted handyperson.

  • Check reviews of local handyperson companies.

  • Contact at least three handypersons for quotes and references.

  • Ask for three references from each handyperson you are considering. Ask the handyperson’s references about their satisfaction with the work, timeline, and communication of the handyperson.

  • Ask a handyperson for any licensing (keep in mind that some states require handypersons to be licensed, while others do not) and proof of insurance.

  • Closely review the proposed contract and make sure it will benefit both parties. Consider including information about settling disputes in the event of unfinished or poorly completed work.

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