Tips for Finding Help with Home Repairs

Lisa Mayers
By Lisa Mayers September 15, 2017 21:12

Have a leaky faucet, but not the skill set to fix it? While it may be clear when to call a handyman (or woman), determining which handyman to call can be a job in itself.

A little research can go a long way to ensure your work will be done efficiently, responsibly and at a fair price.

Several regional agencies also stand ready to lend a hand (see list below), offering home-repair and maintenance help to those who qualify.

The Mother Lode Office of Catholic Charities fields “desperate calls” for such assistance.

“People say, ‘I need help and I don’t know who to call,’  ” says Program Director Catherine Driver. “Sometimes a need is so big that it takes several agencies working together to meet that need. The collaboration is amazing.”

Here are six tips from the Contractors State License Board and the Better Business Bureau for finding a quality handyperson:

If your job will cost more than $500, hire a licensed contractor. California does not license handymen, but some do have contractor licenses. Unlicensed workers legally cannot take jobs that total more than $500 in labor and materials, so for more expensive jobs, look for the license.

Why does this matter? Contractors must carry workers’ comp insurance if they have employees and must post deposits (often bonds) with the state to reimburse clients for damages caused by license-law violations.

Contractors’ license numbers must be on advertising and bids. License status can be checked online at cslb.ca.gov or by calling 1-800-321-2752.

Narrow the field. Ask friends for recommendations or search “Handyman Services” on the Better Business Bureau’s website, bbb.org. The BBB lists and rates (on a scale of A+ to F) both accredited and non-accredited businesses. Yelp.com also lists handymen and specialists (like electricians), along with customer reviews.

Take a closer look. Ask potential hires for references, look at their past work and verify any licenses and insurance. Neither handymen nor contractors are required to carry commercial general liability insurance, but such a policy could protect you if your property is damaged.

Also, find out what your homeowners insurance covers, as unlicensed workers may be excluded.

Get three quotes. Make sure your project is well defined before seeking bids. Must the handyman obtain necessary permits and materials? Will you do any prep work, such as moving furniture? Make sure that each of your bids covers the same criteria. Be aware that handymen may offer senior discounts or better deals when several small jobs are bundled together.

Have a contract. Get an agreement signed by both you and the handyman before the project begins. It should specify a price or a time estimate and an hourly rate (those in this area start around $25). The contract should also list materials and their costs, start and completion dates, warranty information and a payment schedule. Keep the agreement even after work is completed.

Avoid money mistakes. Don’t pay with cash. Never pay in full upfront, and don’t make the final payment until you have inspected the completed project. Request receipts and keep them.

Programs offer help with needed repairs

Contact these foothill agencies for more info on free or low-cost home repair help:

Amador Senior Center offers minor health- and safety-related repairs to residents 55 and older. (209) 223-0442, amadorseniorcenter.org.

Amador Tuolumne Community Action Agency’s Water Conservation and Weatherization Programs help eligible residents with energy-saving home repairs, including installation of grab bars. In Tuolumne County, (209) 533-1397; in Amador and Calaveras counties, (209) 223-1485, atcaa.org.

Area 12 Agency on Aging’s Minor Home Repair Program helps eligible homeowners age 60-plus with health- and safety-related repairs; open to residents of Alpine, Amador, Calaveras, Mariposa and Tuolumne counties. (209) 532-6272, area12.org.

Mother Lode Office of Catholic Charities’ Grace Fund helps Tuolumne County residents after all other means of assistance have been exhausted; call for eligibility information. (209) 532-7632, ccstockton.org.

Village on the Hill, a program of Southside Community Connections, offers minor home maintenance and repairs to fee-paying members in its Groveland/Big Oak Flat service area. (209) 962-6906, southsidecommunityconnections.org.

Copyright © 2017 Friends and Neighbors Magazine

Lisa Mayers
By Lisa Mayers September 15, 2017 21:12
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