6 Signs You Shouldn't Hire That Handyperson

Lauren Murphy
Written by Lauren Murphy
Updated November 3, 2021
A contractor and two homeowners discussing at a construction site
skynesher/E+ via Getty Images

When embarking on a home improvement project, keep an eye out for any of these handyperson red flags

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Most contractors are vetted pros who want to help your home improvement dreams come true. That said, you should always practice your due diligence when hiring a local handyperson or any pro to make sure you’re getting the best person for the job. Watch out for these common red flags while looking for a local handyperson. If you come across any, you should think twice about hiring that pro.

1. They Give You an Extremely Low Bid

You should always interview multiple pros for any home project. If you come across a handyperson charging significantly less than the others, this usually isn’t a good thing. While everyone loves to save money, this pro may not actually have the skills to fix your problem or will cut corners. Alternatively, the low bid could just be a way to get you to hire them, only for them to tack on fee after fee once they start. 

Use your best judgment here, though: If you’re still leaning towards hiring this pro, you can ask them to clarify the bid to ensure that the rate is a flat fee and ask how add-ons will be priced. You can also reach out to references (more on that in a moment!) to see how the handyperson priced their job and if they were satisfied with the work.

Most handyperson prices range from $400 to $600, depending on the job.

2. They Come Over Unsolicited

Some scammers posing as contractors or handypeople will arrive on your doorstep without warning, telling you that “they were just around the corner” and noticed a few things that needed fixing on the outside of your house, like worn-out siding or a damaged window.

With this scam, if you let them, they will point out more and more problems with your home and offer to help out at a low rate since they were already in the neighborhood. But chances are, they were never working in your area, and they don’t have the skills to repair anything. Just move along or, at the very least, tell them you may call them later after doing your research.

3. They Won’t Sign a Contract

Contracts are essential when hiring a handyperson, as they help protect you and the pro. They provide detailed information on the project that allows you both to be on the same page and can be an important tool if things go sour. If a handyperson refuses to sign a contract, you should move along to the next pro on your list.

A worker and a contractor discussing renovation plans
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4. They Don’t Have Insurance or a License

Handyperson insurance and license requirements vary by state, municipality, and what job they’re working on, so check what laws are in effect in your area before you begin your search. Hiring an unlicensed contractor can cost you in the long run.

Any pro you work with should have some type of insurance, so ask to see proof before hiring.

5. They Won’t Provide References

References are a great way to determine whether or not a handyperson is skilled and experienced. If your handyperson can’t provide any references from people they have worked for in the past, they might have zero experience or unhappy customers in their wake. Hiring someone without learning about their experience is risky. If they don’t do quality work, you may have to pay for repairs down the road.

6. They Want the Entire Payment Upfront

It’s totally normal for a contractor to ask for a downpayment on your home project before they break ground. This deposit helps get them started with materials and secures your spot on their schedule.

However, if the handyperson asks for the entire bid upfront, this is usually a shady sign and could leave you out of that money later.

Questions to Ask Any Potential Handyperson

Research multiple candidates to help you with your home improvement project. Before you move forward with them, ask these questions:

  • Are you licensed?

  • Do you have insurance?

  • What experience do you have with this type of project?

  • How long have you been in business?

  • What is your timeline for this project?

  • How much do you charge?

  • Will you be hiring subcontractors?

  • Can you provide references?

  • Will you secure all required permits?

Keep in mind that a pro should never get defensive or brush questions aside—you should feel comfortable with who you hire. If you get a negative vibe from the person you’re interviewing, you can always say no.

What to Look For in a Handyperson Contract

A contract between you and your handyperson outlines details of the transaction, including responsibilities expected of both parties. Having a written remodeling contract is important because it helps to ensure that you’re both on the same page before you begin.

Reputable handypeople will provide their contract to the homeowner. Make sure it outlines a clear timeline of the project, payment information, and project scope. There should also be a termination clause detailing the procedure in case either party must end the project. If any of these aspects are missing in your contract, that’s a red flag. Discuss these with your handyperson and update the agreement to include them. If the person doesn’t comply, it’s time to walk away without hiring them.

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