How to Hire a Handyman
A Guide For Using a Professional to Build Your Playhouse
Being a plans only company, we understand the importance in providing a solid strategy for locating professional help in building your family’s new playhouse.  The fact is, hiring a handyman to fabricate your backyard project can be a much faster and less stressful way to construct your new playhouse in both a professional and timely manor.  With an experienced craftsman, you won’t need to worry about owning the right tools, framing the lumber correctly, wondering who to ask for help and finding the time in your busy schedule to make it all happen.

Often with smaller jobs, handymen are cheaper than using a construction manager, and more willing to do simpler, single or multiple day projects that contractors won’t bother with.  Most of our playhouse and shed plans are no problem for handymen and individual workers, where the larger designs, whimsical or multi-plan builds may require contacting a GC with access to a full crew.

For either a handyman or contractor, the vetting and hiring processes is the same, with the ultimate goal of finding the best value with the right skill level in your local area.  By following our 4 part hiring process, you’ll ensure the highest probability of a smooth playhouse undertaking.

1: Determine If You Really Need A Professional

Picking up the hammer and saw yourself can be a fun and rewarding experience for both you and the whole family. We realize most of our clients aren’t career carpenters and highly skilled frames, which is why our plans are designed with the layman in mind, being as simple and straight forward to follow as possible.   There are, however, some variables that can make the actual construction process impracticable for some.  Generally, four main factors determine if doing-it-yourself is the most ideal choice:
  • Skill

Do you know how to read a tape, use a circular saw, level a platform, and if not, have the patience to learn through the mistakes?  Do you have the strength and stamina to move and cut heavy lumber?  Although relatively simple, an elementary grasp of carpentry and manual work is necessary to make your job materialize.
  • Time

Many people have a basic understanding of hand and power tools, but have a harder time accurately estimating the amount of time required to being their project to completion.  If you’re not willing to give up several entire weekends or take time off of work, hiring a craftsman may be the best idea.

Typically for the average person, expect our smaller plans to take 2-4 days to finish, with our larger designs lasting 7-10 days.
  • Tools

You may know how to read a tape and use power tools, but do you own a circular saw, miter saw, reciprocating saw, saw horses, impact driver, drill, orbital sander, speed square, chisels and other various hand and power tools?  One of the great advantages of using a handyman is their access to tools you would need to purchase otherwise.
  • Cost

Usually labor is the most expensive part of doing any type of business.  On average, a handyman charges $50 to $80 an hour, while a contractor may charge twice that per person.  If you compare that with the size of the plan purchased, you should be able to roughly infer the final cost to you and if the added expense of using an expert is worthwhile.  Keep in mind that the potential of unforeseen circumstances can quickly inflate the costs beyond your estimate.
Once you have together weighed these components and determined that using a handyman is the best option, it’s now time to precisely coordinate your action plan.

2: Get Your Project Ideas Organized

In order to receive the most accurate quote, you’ll need to decide ahead of time exactly what you want accomplished.  Even minor decisions and tasks, when added up can become a significant price difference.  We've already compiled 9 tips for designing a cool playhouse, and 10 considerations before building, but there are many more.

Overall, it’s best to write down and compile these ideas, rules and responsibilities so that your handyman has the most clean understanding of what needs to be done.  Below are some of the choices you’ll likely come across:

  • If you’ve building on a hill, the foundation choice and setup can add significant time and cost to the overall project.
  • If you’re going to modify and enlarge the scope the plan, provide dimensional drawings to eliminate any confusion down the road.
  • Determine if you want your handyman to handle purchasing all of the material costs or if you’ll arrange supplying the lumber and hardware.  One of the benefits of using an experienced carpenter is helping you choose the right type of materials.
  • Considering when and how long you’re willing to wait to being building.  It’s possible constructing in the colder seasons could save you some money.
  • Decide exactly how much work the handyman will do.  You may only want them to set the posts and construct the foundation, or do everything except add the accessories and painting.
  • If you really just need a helping hand,  perhaps only select someone who is happy to work along side you.

3. Finding A Local Handyman

Now that you have all your ducks in a row and know exactly what you want completed, it’s time to begin looking for a local professional.  There are any number of legitimate ways to locate quality help, but it will be up to you to find the best balance of cost and quality. We recommend picking at least 3 specialists you’ll follow up with for finding the best quote and insuring you’re not overcharged.

As the saying goes, you don’t want a jack of all trades, master of none.  With most any career field, there is no perfect handyman who does everything equally well.  Make sure when looking they gravitate more to the framing/carpentry trade side of skill sets so you’ll know you’re getting the correct type of pro.

Keep in mind when searching that licensing requirements for day laborers and handymen can vary depending on your state, and will need to be something you’ll ask about, especially considering this is going to be something you child will be using for years.
  • Word of Mouth

The best way to hire a handyman is asking others around you who had similar carpentry work done in the past.  This can include friends, family, coworkers and neighbors, as well as hardware stores, real estate agents and community organizations.  If you’re unable to locate someone with referrals, the next best step is an online marketplace.
  • Digital Marketplaces

There are several online digital marketplaces that allow you to connect with already prescreened, peer reviewed and licensed individuals.  Using these services takes a lot of the hassle out of doing the research, vetting and stress of finding a qualified candidate.  There are many websites that offer these types of marketplaces, but the two biggest are Angi.com and Homeadvisor.com.
  • Review & Social Media Websites

In addition to the digital marketplaces, using some of the many review websites and social media platforms is a solid choice.  Some of these sites include Yelp.com, Nextdoor.com and bbb.org.
  • National Service Companies

If you’re not necessarily hunting for the best price, but a reliable and professional worker, you can opt for an agency that will send out someone that has already been certified by them.  If this sounds ideal, try looking at MrHandyman.com and HandymanConnection.com for starters.

  • Search Engine Inquiry

If all else fails, you can perform a simple internet search for handymen in your area.  Make sure to use your city and state when looking for the most relevant results. There are also many other, smaller companies in addition to the websites above that will provide you with even more connections if you want to expand your pool of potentials.

No matter who you choose to contact, try searching for reviews using their name to see they already have a well established history.  You might also have some luck finding them on BBB.org and your State Consumer Protection Agency.

4. Contacting / Interviewing Your Picks

Once we created our handyman short list of at least 3 contenders, we’ll need to schedule a consultation. Many of the basic questions can be answered on phone, but it will most likely take an in-person meeting to get an accurate quote.  As in step 2, make sure to write your questions down beforehand and take notes when needed.

Remember, you can tell a lot about a person or company with how they treat you on the phone.  Being willing to answer your inquests in a polite and equitable fashion is a good indicator that’s how you’ll be treating during the project.

Some of the questions customers ask are:
  • How long have you been in business?
  • Do you work alone or with a partner / crew?
  • Would a building permit be required for a project like this?
  • Do you have workers insurance?
  • Have you completed similar work and have a portfolio?
  • Do you use written contracts for your jobs?
  • Do you itemize quotes?
  • What is your schedule like and when would the project start and finish?
  • Do you offer any type of work guarantee?
If you’re willing to be flexible with your scheduling, you might be able obtain a lower project cost.  On the other hand, if you’re in a rush, there’s often a fee for requiring the project be completed quickly.

In terms of payment, you’ll probably need to provide a deposit.  These typically range from 25% to 50% of the finalized quote.  Paying full price up front is almost never a good idea, even if they have positive history and reputation.

Once the Project is Finished

Make sure to do an extensive walk though your new playhouse to make sure everything is as expected and agreed upon.  The last thing you’ll want is to be surprised by something after the final check as already been written, such as a wobbly platform.  Asking for a full receipt is always a good idea to keep for your records as well.

Finally, if you’re happy with the results, leave a positive review for your handyman online.  This is one of the best ways to say thank you for a job well done.

 

April 15, 2021 — Paul Gifford

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