I am a Handyman working in Pretoria and I often wonder how do people go about finding and Hiring the right handyman for their projects?

To find and hire the right handyman for my project I would do as follows:

  1. To find a handyman you can Search on Google or look in your local newspaper, ask friends, look for advertisements next to the road and ask at your local hardware store if they know of someone.
  2. The next step is to contact some of these Handymen to come see you for a quotation.
  3. Then you need to choose the right contractor. Go with your gut and remember buying cheap is not always a good idea.

Now sit back and let the Handyman do his magic. Remember you are paying good money to let the expert do the job for you.

If you chose well the project should get done with not much headache involved. The problem starts in the choosing the right contractor. In my view finding one is easy. Handymen are everywhere and easy to find.

So how do you go about choosing the right Handyman for your Project?

1. The first thing you do is to create a list of potential Handymen that you think can do the project for you using the channels listed above

Now if this list is very long I suggest shorten it as follows:

  • Choose local handymen – Remember all projects are quoted on cost plus profit. So if a handyman works from Pietermaritzburg and you stay in Pretoria he will definitely add costs for traveling time and petrol. This might price him too high for the project.
  • Search on Craig’s list for complaints about the Handyman. If there are complaints do read them and decide if it is legitimate and if it is scratch him from the list.
  • Look for reviews online about the Handyman you want to invite to quote. Choose the Handyman with above average reviews.
  • Start phoning contractors on your list. Chances are some will not be interested to work for you due to the Following:
  • The Handyman might be too busy to help.
  • Or the Handyman might not have the expertise to do the project.
  • The Handyman might not answer or call you back for some reason. Or he she might sound like someone who might not want to be very helpful. Remember first impressions count. Go on your gut feel. If it does not feel right go to the next Handyman.

2. The next step would be to invite Handymen to Quote on the project.

We have discussed some of the things to look out for when calling a Handyman on the Phone. Also look out for the following when calling someone:

  • Is the person at least friendly? Do they sound like they really want to be of service?
  • If you ask a question does it sound like they know what they are talking about?
  • Do you clearly understand what the person on the other side is trying to tell you? Remember communication in a project is the key to success. If you don’t understand the Handyman while on the phone, do you think it will get any better in real life?

Now that you know what to listen for you start calling some contractors. Make appointments and get the ball rolling.

During the appointment you need to make sure of the following:

  1. Did the Handyman arrive on time? If he was late did he have the courtesy to at least call and postpone the meeting? Bear in mind what happens during the meeting might also happen during the project. So if he is on time it means he is probably good for his word. It is not a guarantee but at least it’s a good start.
  2. Another thing I would suggest looking out for is the Handyman listening to you and allowing you to speak. Think about it. If he only wants his way, what will happen during the project? I think a Handyman needs to listen carefully about what his Client has to say. Of course the Handyman is supposed to be the expert in his field and should tell you if he thinks something cannot work the way you think it should, but he needs to listen as well. After all it is your money and the project needs to satisfy your want or need.
  3. This brings me to the next point we touched on in the previous statement. Does the Handyman know what he is talking about? Is he really an expert in what he does or is he winging it? The thing is, let’s say you spend R 30 000 on tiles on your house and the result is not what you expected. It’s not like you can take an eraser and wipe it all out and start again. You spent a lot you need to make sure He can deliver. What is done is done and can only be changed at a cost. So make sure.
  4. Another point that I want to make clear is this. If a Handyman feels he or she cannot deliver on your expectations he needs to say that he cannot. So in my view consider it a great plus if the Handyman admits that he or she cannot do something. That shows that he will not compromise on quality just to get the job done.
  5. In my view a reputable Handyman would be able to point out places where he foresees issues with the project. For instance he must at least have an idea of building regulations in his area.
  6. Is the Handyman willing to work with experts in certain areas? For instance I always use a reputable Truss supplier who will give me a plan of the roof that I need to put in. I also would not build a second Floor without the expertise of an engineer to design the floor strength and so on.
  7. Another point to look out for is this. Does the Handyman do his homework on certain things? Let’s say you want to build a second story on an existing building. Does he inform you that you need to inspect the foundations to see if it is fit to carry the weight of the second floor?

Remember the original building’s foundation was designed to carry the weight of only one floor. It is true that if the reputable contractor brought in an engineer for the floor design of the second floor, that the engineer would most probably and should in fact suggest that the foundations be inspected. But I know of sites where even the engineer forgot to order such an inspection and they had to do that inspection after the work started. An extra cost was incurred because the foundations needed to be strengthened. So be careful who you hire.

What do I need the quote to look like?

Now that you met the Handyman and you told him what to do he has to provide you with a quote. I would really suggest you always ask for a written quote. I use my quotes to provide a detailed list of what I intend to do for my client. I also put all the Terms and conditions on my quote. This way there can be no misunderstanding of what needs to be done.

Another advantage of putting as much info into the quote as possible is when I do the work I can use my quote as a reference of what needs to be done. Let’s say I quoted 3 months ago and now need to go do the work, I did a lot of quotes and other jobs in between and most probably forgot what we agreed upon in the first place. Now I can refer to my Quote for guidance on what to do and what we agreed upon.

So to sum up what I would look for in a quote is the following:

  • Does the quote look professional? This can tell you if the contractor has pride in what he does. If the quote looks shabby and a bit rushed then maybe the job will also be done the same way.
  • Is there Terms and conditions on the quote? This is very important because it sets out the rules to which the contractor and the client will have to adhere to.
  • Does the quote specify in reasonable detail what the job entails and what you the client will get for the money you will be paying

3. How to choose the right quote and therefore the right handyman?

So you received a few quotes from different Handymen. How do you choose which one to use? Let’s say you received 3 quotes. The first thing to look for is difference in Price.

What do I mean by that?

Let’s say you are building a wall. Handyman number one quoted R 10 000.00. Handyman number two Quoted R 10 982.00 and handyman number 3 quoted R 3400.00. Would you choose the cheapest one? Could it be that the cheapest Handyman might have made some mistake with his calculations? Now some people would say, but that is his problem and he has to deliver on his contract.

Let us look at this statement from a different perspective. The client hires the handyman that was the cheapest by far. Ask yourself this. What is this handyman going to do to get the job done and still make a profit? Is he going to use inferior material? Is he going to rush the job to save on Labor?

Or worse is he planning to do the job at all? The last scenario will be avoided by doing some homework around the credentials of the Handyman.

For these reasons I would not use the cheapest contractor in this scenario.

Let’s say the pricing was different and handyman number three put in a price of R 9500. Now the scenario changes somewhat and in this case Handyman number three can be considered for the job.

Lastly what I feel is important about choosing the right handyman for the job.

If the quotes are quite close in price then choose the Handyman that you connected with the best and that your gut feels right about even if it means paying a little extra to get the job done. After all a reputable handyman who is compensated well for his work will do his utmost to give you the best work possible.

The choice could be as follows:

Save a thousand rand and get that sickening feeling in your stomach every time you look at the wall that was built by someone not up for the task or you could hire the more expensive Handyman and be proud of the beautiful addition you added to your house. This is not to say that the cheaper option is not the right choice.

Use all the information you have and make a decision on that and of course always listen to your gut. That is God directing you in a subtle way.