When our homes or workplaces need attention, the first person we think to call is the local handyman. Also referred to as a fixer or handyperson, these skilled workers excel in conducting repairs, performing maintenance work, and helping with those tasks that are just too complicated or challenging to DIY.
When you need home services performed, the handyman is who you call.
Consumers hire fixers to tackle various home improvements like changing faucets, replacing roofing shingles, or painting kitchen walls. Yes, it's possible to call a specialist, such as a plumber, roofer, or painter, but that can involve calling multiple individuals out and often paying a higher price. A hired fixer can manage numerous tasks at one hourly rate, generally completing the job in only a few hours, saving the homeowner time and money.
Here's a look at what handypersons do, what consumers can expect when they hire a handyman, how to stay safe on the job site, and the significant work categories fixers are generally equipped to tackle.
Handyman vs. Contractor
What is a handyman? These workers usually have an extensive skill set and can complete a vast array of household repairs. Often called odd jobs or fix-up tasks, their work may include some trade skills; however, their tasks mainly involve maintenance and repair work.
Generally speaking, hired laborers can manage minor repairs that don't pose a significant danger or require special licensing. The primary difference between a handyman and a contractor concerns the size and scope of a project. Large construction projects will typically involve numerous tradespeople to complete, whereas a fixer can work solo to complete the job. As we identify in our article on the Different Types of Construction Contractors, a contractor will work in a specialty trade, such as drywall or flooring, and usually has a license for a specific skill. They perform particular work and have developed a solid knowledge base surrounding a specific trade.
A handyman is more of a generalist, with diverse skills used across all areas of construction. Consumers like working with handymen because there is typically more flexibility in the work performed. They can choose their materials, price points, manufacturer, and finish. They also will typically compete with lower costs, as they can keep their rates low because of fewer overhead costs. In contrast, contractors or larger companies will typically have extra staff, requiring consumers to be charged higher fees to perform work.
Becoming a Generalist
How does one become a handyman? There are several steps an individual can take to become a genuinely skilled handyman. The first step is to educate yourself by researching online and watching tutorials, reading home improvement guides, and even going to school or receiving training for a specific skilled trade.
Training to become a handyman will vary drastically based on your area, experience, and the services you plan to offer. This means it's up to the individual to decide what they want or need to learn. Some may pick up expertise from trade schools and vocational schools by volunteering with organizations or simply working around their own home to learn how to perform specific tasks properly.
Lastly, it may be beneficial to apprentice with an experienced tradesman to learn from their skillset and expertise.
Here are some useful websites for those who are interested in becoming a handyman:
What can a handyman do? The answer to this question depends on the person's level of experience, education, and technical knowledge. For the most part, these hired workers concentrate on general work and simple household repairs.
The list of work that a handyman can perform is long, but it includes tasks like:
- Adding shelving units
- Assembling furniture
- Assembling trampolines
- Building treehouses
- Carpentry work
- Ceiling tile restoration
- Cleaning facilities
- Cleaning carpets
- Cleaning gutters
- Everyday landscaping
- Fixture repair
- Fixing leaky faucets
- Hanging art, televisions, and shelving
- Hanging curtains
- Installing doors and floors
- Installing sprinkler systems
- Installing skylights
- Moving heavy objects
- Patching drywall
- Painting touch-ups
- Pressure washing
- Refacing cabinets
- Repairing treadmills
- Repairing concrete
- Repairing fences
- Removing junk
And the list goes on and on.
It's important to remember that fixers can complete maintenance jobs. Still, they shouldn't take on significant projects that require the work of someone more specialized or licensed, like a plumber or electrician. For example, they can fix a clogged toilet, but it's time to call a plumber when a pipe needs to be replaced.
Finding reliable and trusted hired workers to perform repair services can be a challenge. However, a website like Angie's List (newly renamed "Angi") offers helpful information to consumers looking to hire a handyman and what services they might expect.
Websites like Angi help consumers find reputable workers in the area with their Handyman Companies Near You feature. All you have to do is enter your zip code, the nature of the work, answer some general questions about the project, and you'll be connected to three vetted handypersons in your area.
Top Three Handyman Services
For many who offer handyman services, there's no actual limit to what they can do, as we've showcased above.
The three most common areas of work that handypersons do are:
- Same-Day Emergency
Let's break down each one of these.
Life gets busy, and it's hard to get to all the home improvement projects we might have on our list. Even if you have time, some home tasks on your list may be outside of the realm of your expertise!
Many hire out handyman services when they need someone to perform work on home maintenance. Examples include patching drywall, unclogging pipes, installing new fixtures, painting rooms, and performing landscaping.
Hiring a handyperson is perfect for when homeowners need someone to take on smaller repair projects, including:
- Repairing a leaky faucet or toilet
- Applying fresh caulk to windows and doors
- Repairing decks
- Repairing shingles on roofs
- Repairing concrete driveways
Emergencies can pop up at any time, and when they do, homeowners need a reliable person to address the problem.
A fixer who provides 24-hour service can be accommodating in the event of an emergency. Natural disasters and power losses can require same-day attention. Common emergency repairs may include:
- Mending a leaking roof
- Fixing a broken window
- Dealing with flooding
- Addressing frozen pipes
Many of these repairs have easy fixes that a handyperson can do. Sometimes, a handyman acts as a vital stopgap until a specialized contractor can get there to make a permanent repair. This is especially helpful for homeowners looking to avoid expensive same-day repair costs that most contractors like electricians and plumbers charge.
Whenever performing any construction work, it's essential to know about the risks involved in the performed tasks. For the handyman, many of the hazards faced are the same as those faced by any construction laborer. Here are some:
- Flying Debris
- Handling materials
- Sharp objects
- Using power tools
Anytime a person is making repairs or working with power tools, there is an inherent risk of injury. All too often, injuries occur due to power tool accidents when working with saws, nail guns, drills, and other tools that pose a potential threat.
There are some basic workplace practices a handyperson should follow to maintain safe working conditions. One of the most common injuries comes as a result of misusing ladders. Fixers should understand and be well-versed in the proper use of these and other critical tools. If a handyperson remembers one thing, it should be to never use a tool without knowing exactly how to use it.
Our entire construction industry home page can be found by clicking the image below. Many of the hazards covered across these sub-industries apply to handypersons.
Fixers can stay safe from the every day hazards they face, especially when it comes to protecting their hands and eyes.
Here are some useful safety-related websites for those working as generalists or handymen:
Gloves and PPE
Those working as handymen should take all necessary safety precautions, including adhering to the proper use for each device and wearing safety gear like work gloves and eye protection.
Here are examples of the safety gear handymen should consider wearing:
- Abrasion-Resistant Gloves – A good pair of gloves will protect workers' hands when moving materials like bricks and wood.
- Balaclavas – You'll need your face protected when performing odd jobs during cold winter months.
- Chemical-Resistant Gloves – When working with potentially hazardous chemicals, it's important to protect workers' hands from adhesives, sealants, avitalts.
- Cut-Resistant Gloves – When handling blades, sheet metal, or other sharp objects, it's critical to protect a worker's hands.
- Foot Protection – Keep your feet protected from falling objects and liquids with appropriate footwear.
- Safety Glasses – Help protect eyes from flying debris while grinding and sanding.
- Sealed Eyewear – These glasses provide an inner liner to help keep sawdust and particles out.
Our online garment catalog shows our entire product offering, from bomber jackets to safety vests and hi-vis rain gear.
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Do you tip a handyman?
- If another party hired your handyman, you do not have to tip them. If you hired them directly, tipping is at your discretion based on the quality and speed of their work and whether or not their boss allows it if they are not independent contractors.
Does a handyman need a license?
- Each state has its specific regulations in terms of handyman licensure. For example, to operate as a handyman in New York City, a person must have a Home Improvement Contractor License that allows them to do home-improvement work like construction or improvements to structures and residential properties. This would include improving basements, driveways, fences, garages, landscaping, patios, pools, and terraces.
It's best to research handyman legislationin your city and state to find out local regulations and requirements. General maintenance and repair jobs don't often require licensure, but more intensive work may require a license.
What can a handyman legally do?
- Again, this varies by state and region, but different regulations will be based on a particular trade, task, and location. You can research rules by state here.
How much is a handyman per hour?
- These costs can vary significantly based on the project size, the scope of the work, and the handyman's expertise. The average rates run between $35-$80 per hour, plus the cost of materials. Some handymen may have minimum charges. How much consumers pay will vary based on where they live and how complex the work is. The national average rate is $55 per hour. You can view the real prices consumers paid for specific handyman jobs here.
Handyman Pricing PDF - https://hometechonline.com/wp-content/uploads/handyman-sample.pdf
Additional Handyman Websites
Where to find handyman work?
How much does a handyman make?
- The average handyman makes around $50,000 per year, but can vary between $38,000 and $65,000 per year, though, meaning that handymen can earn more when they move past entry-level roles, gain more experience, and build their reputation for good work.
Those looking to start a small handyman business working for themselves should be sure to fully understand the licensing laws and business rules in their region, which can help avoid violations or run-ins with investigators and contractors' boards.
The Handyman Matters, along with PPE
We hope this in-depth look into the Handyman industry has been beneficial. At MCR Safety, we know a little something about being handy. When workers come into contact with hazardous environments, there is nothing handier than putting on some MCR Safety protective gear.
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We welcome any comments, feedback, or suggestions for how we can best protect people at work.
For over 45 years, MCR Safety has proven to be a world leader in gloves, glasses, and garments. Whether it's on the shop floor, an oil rig, a construction site, or shooting outdoors, we are there to provide solutions to workplace (and recreational) hazards. It's all part of our commitment to protect people.
No matter your industry, we have the personal protective equipment you need.
Learn more about MCR Safety by checking out our most recent video. For more information, browse our website, request a catalog, find a distributor, or give us a call at 800-955-6887.