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Should You Hire a Plumber or Handyman?

handyman or plumber

If you read the consumer’s guide to hiring a plumber then you should have a good idea about how to go about the process of finding a reputable plumbing company. What we didn’t cover in the guide is when to hire a plumber or handyman. There are advantages and disadvantages to hiring both.

Every once in a while you may have some plumbing repairs or general plumbing maintenance that needs to be done and you don’t want to call a plumber. Other times you may need other small jobs done around the house in addition to the plumbing repairs.

The major difference between plumbers and a handyman is that plumbers tend to specialize in the field of plumbing only, where as, handymen are generally jack-of-all-trades, master of none.

Consider hiring a handyman when you have multiple small jobs that need to get done and you’re on a bit of a budget. They will be able to offer you affordable pricing, flexible scheduling and they can handle a variety of tasks such as painting, hanging ceiling fans, fixing faucets, etc.

If you choose to hire a handyman instead of a plumber you still need to find one that you can trust and one that won’t end up doing more damage to your home than good. If you go handyman hunting route it won’t be too difficult to find one as it seems that many have taken on the title and started posting their ads on such classified ad sites like Craigslist, Backpage, and many others.

Just like searching for a plumber requires some due diligence on your part so does hiring a handyman. In fact, many of the complaints that are filed with the Better Business Bureau each year are about handyman. Some handymen are so notorious for leaving homeowners high and dry that they have literally been banned for doing any work in a some local communities.

Plumber or Handyman ?

Handyman Prices

When deciding on your which handyman to hire look for the guy or gal who’s going to be upfront about how much they charge. Ask them do they charge a flat rate or an hourly rate? Do they have a minimum dollar spend in order to come out to your house?

If your “Honey-Do” list is long, explain to them in detail what you want to be done and ask them approximately how many man hours do they think it will take?

At this point, if you’re just speaking with them over the phone, you’re not looking to nail down an exact figure but you do need to see what the ballpark figure will be to see if it’s within your budget.

When using a handyman try to combine as many services as you can at one time because it will save you money in the long run.

Other questions that you may want to ask your handyman hire are does he markup materials? Does he charge for drive time? Does he offer after hours or rush hour service and if so does it come at a premium?

To aide you with having some idea of what you can expect to pay I have listed some handyman services that are most typically requested, the time needed to complete the service as well as the dollar spend you can expect to pay. Depending on the area you live these prices may be slightly lower or higher but they should be relatively close. Agree upon a price before any work begins and always get it in writing.

  • Change a thermostat, repair a leaky pipe or hang some pictures on a wall (1-2 hours)
  • Hang doors or replace windows (2-3 hours)
  • Hang shelves or repair drywall (3-4 hours)
  • Wiring a room for home theater, repairing and painting a wall (4 or more hours)

The prices below are for labor and incidental materials. You will have to pay additional for toilets, sinks, TVs, ceiling fans, etc.

handyman price chart

Below are some advantages and disadvantages of hiring plumbers vs handyman. While these observations do not apply to all plumbers or handymen across the board this is what we’ve noticed in our personal experience.

Plumber advantages

  • Licensed, bonded and insured
  • Can handle both small and large jobs
  • Can pull needed permits
  • Specialists in their field
  • Maintain a professional image
  • Guarantee their work.
  • Hire employees.

Handyman advantages

  • Affordable
  • Jack-of-all-trades
  • Flexible and can easily work around your schedule
  • More personable
  • Can work hourly or by the job

Plumber disadvantages

  • Pricier, much higher hourly rate because of overhead expenses.
  • Schedule often inflexible
  • Can’t handle multiple home service tasks
  • Often impersonal, you’re just a number

Handyman disadvantages

  • Often do incomplete and shoddy work
  • Unprofessional image
  • Have not had to go through any rigorous training
  • Often not bonded, licensed and insured
  • Self-employed not an employee.

As you can see there are advantages and disadvantages to each type of hire. We believe there is a plenty of room for both types of services professionals depending on your needs.

Here are the type of services that should come to mind when you think of hiring a handyman. There will be some overlap of what services that both plumbers and handyman offer.

handyman services

Most plumbers can handle both large and small plumbing repair jobs so you have the flexibility of going either way when you just need a small repair done. However, for the larger, more complex plumbing jobs always use a plumbing company and thank us later that you did. Below are services we recommend you seek a professional plumber for:

plumbing services

When choosing the right person for the job size will play a large part in the final decision you end up making. A handyman is a great decision for knocking out that “Honey Do” list. But I would probably steer clear of these guys if you’re thinking about doing a bathroom or kitchen remodel. Longer projects that involve multiple types of subcontractors requires a professional plumbing company.

Some of the handyman tradesmen could handle complicated jobs which include electrical and HVAC work but you need to ensure they have the proper licensing and insurance required for your state. Your decision really boils down to being clear on the things you want to have done and finding someone with the skill set, licensing, insurance and training in order to knock out those tasks for you.

Independent Contractor vs Corporate

The last thing you want to happen is for the price you were quoted to double by the time the handyman has completed the job. Did you know they can actually put a mechanic’s lien on your property for non-payment of services rendered?

Don’t know what a mechanic’s lien is? A mechanic’s lien is typically used by subcontractors, handymen, suppliers, and are a legal claim against your property that has been remodeled or improved in some way. So if that handyman comes over and remodels your kitchen and isn’t paid in full on what he says you own him a lien can be placed against your house.

And the interesting thing is that it doesn’t even matter if you have already paid the handyman for the kitchen remodel, if it’s not in writing, the law will allow the handyman to come after you for the improvement done to your property. In the end, if you ever decide to sell the house, you will have to pay off that mechanic’s lien first.

This is why we always implore you to get the scope of work to be performed in writing with both signatures on the contract.
independent contractor vs handyman

corporate handyman
Sometimes you can save yourself a few extra bucks by doing a little bit of the work up front but make sure that you know exactly what’s included in the price and stick to your budget. Regardless of who you decide to get to help you around the house always look at these things:

  • The company’s reputation on sites like Yelp, Angie’s List, and Google Reviews.
  • Ask for references.
  • Get scope of work to be done in writing.
  • Training, license, bonding and insurance.
  • Does the company have a real address?

Hopefully, this information will help you decide whether to hire a plumber or contractor. Anytime you’re hiring someone to do home services work and bringing them into your residence it can be a daunting process. However, with a little due diligence on your part you’ll be able to select the person that best suits your personality and needs.

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