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Whether it's a big project such as a bathroom remodel, something small like putting up shelves, or repairs and routine maintenance, many homeowners turn to handymen to get the job done. It used to be that everyone knew "a guy down the street" who could do everything, but these days finding a qualified, professional, and reliable handyman can be a real challenge. Here are some tips for homeowners to ensure that they have the right person for the job:

 

MAKE SURE THEY ARE QUALIFIED FOR THE WORK

 

Certain projects require specific skills that all handymen may not have. Make sure that they have the qualifications and experience to do the job. In addition, many provinces require persons performing certain work to be licensed; electrical and plumbing often fall into this category.

 

ASK FOR REFERENCES

 

Request at least two local references from previous customers. The handyman should be willing to do this without hesitation. Then, contact those references! Ask about the quality of the work, timeliness, professionalism, and how the handyman handled any changes that may have occurred during the course of the project. Also ask how satisfied they were with the work overall.

 

CHECK ON INSURANCE COVERAGE

 

Liability insurance is always a good idea. If the handyman or another worker is injured while working on your property, you may be held liable for medical costs. Ask for evidence of coverage before agreeing to any work. Uninsured handymen often charge less for their services because they lack the overhead expense of insurance, but using one could cost you in the long run.

 

GET WRITTEN ESTIMATES AND A CONTRACT

 

Ideally, you should ask three handymen for written estimates for the work you have in mind. Be sure that each estimate contains enough detail so that you can make a comparison between them. For example, are the specified materials of the same quality? Does the cost include cleanup and hauling away any debris or old/broken items? Read all contracts carefully and be sure to ask about anything that you are unsure of.

 

DETERMINE THE PAYMENT SCHEDULE BEFORE YOU SIGN

 

Beware if you are asked to pay for the entire job up front - this is not an accepted business practice and could leave you open to fraud. Handymen will often ask for 50% when the contract is signed, which will allow them to purchase materials for the job and assure them that you are committed. Be sure to request receipts for all payments.

 
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