How to Protect Yourself When Hiring a Handyman

  • Never pay a large deposit to start the work. The legal limit in most areas is 10% of the job cost or $1000, whichever is less. This means that on a $500 job, the largest deposit you can be asked to make would be $50. On $100,000 worth of work by a licensed contractor, they can only request $1000 as a deposit.
  • Pay for the work only after the job has been completed to your satisfaction. Pay by check. Your payment is a strong piece of leverage to force the work to be done right. Don’t give this leverage away by paying for work before it is completed.
  • Get a receipt for payments made and be sure it has the full name and address of the person you are paying.
  • Realize that liability insurance policies for unlicensed handymen, often called Artisan Policies, will exclude from coverage any work that was outside the handyman’s legal scope. This means if the job cost exceeded the legal limit or if the work being performed required a license, insurance will not cover any losses incured. You could go after the handyman for recovery but his pocket is not nearly so deep as you might have thought.
  • Check with your homeowner’s insurance agent to be sure that you are covered in the event that the worker injures him/herself on your property.
  • If the worker is an employee of a contractor or handyman company, does that company carry workmans compensation insurance and are the workers bonded?
  • If you’re concerned about letting an unknown person into your home, let a trusted neighbor or a friend know of your plans and have them be there with you. Don’t work with unknown or unproven individuals and trust your gut about the people you let into your home.
  • Take a picture of the worker in front of the work that they are performing on the pretense of keeping a scrap book of repairs to the house.
  • Consider purchasing materials for the job yourself and have them waiting on site before the work begins.

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