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What Can a Handyman Legally Do?

What Can a Handyman Legally Do

What if you could get all of those little tasks on your “honey-do” list completed without having to lift a finger?

Home repairs, maintenance and weekend projects can quickly eat up all your free time. It’s only natural that homeowners are looking for ways to outsource these tasks at the lowest possible price. Depending on the nature of the tasks involved, you may find yourself wondering which jobs are suitable for a handyman and which tasks are better performed by a licensed contractor. Since virtually anyone can call themselves a handyman, you might ask yourself, “What can a handyman legally do?” Is there a real difference between the training and skills of a handyman and a contractor? What type of jobs should you hire a handyman to complete? Some homeowners have an even more basic question: What is a handyman in the first place?

A handyman may be a jack-of-all-trades or someone skilled in a specific area, such as carpentry. A handyman (or handywoman) can do anything from hanging pictures and replacing your garbage disposal to hanging shelves and fixing drywall. Some handymen specialize in specific projects, like carpentry or welding.

The more complicated the job and the higher the price tag, the more likely you’ll want to use a licensed professional, such as an electrical contractor or plumber. If you need to hang a ceiling fan, a handyman is probably your best bet; if you want to upgrade your electrical panel, however, contact a licensed electrician. Hiring a handyman for smaller, less technical work can be more economical and allow you to get several small jobs done at one time.

The majority of “fix it” projects around the home typically can be crossed off your to-do list forever by a handyman. You may want to get your home ready for company or are just tired of looking at that can of paint that’s been sitting out by that wall you can’t seem to find time to freshen up. Perhaps you need that new bookcase to be assembled, that cabinet door to be rehung or your broken railing to be repaired on your deck. A handyman can knock all of those tasks out for you and you won’t even have to break a sweat.

Does a Handyman Need a License

Does a Handyman Need a License?

Governments grant occupational licenses for certain types of work. Similar to the training and testing involved in getting a license to drive a car, state governments give permission to individuals to work in a particular field. Obtaining a license could involve taking industry-specific classes, completing specialized training courses, paying fees and other indicators that you are qualified to do the work you say you do.

Over 100 occupations are licensed across the country. Since common handyman tasks vary widely in scope, this line of work doesn’t fall neatly into one licensing category. The professions that can be associated with handymen which can be licensed, depending on the state in which you live, include:

  • carpenter/cabinet maker contractor
  • cement finishing contractor
  • door repair contractor
  • drywall installation contractor
  • electrical helper
  • HVAC contractor
  • painting contractor

In general, states require licenses and/or permits for larger-scale remodeling projects and for work on your plumbing, air conditioner and for more specialized electrical tasks. To learn more about the licensing requirements in your state, check out this list.

While a handyman may not be required by law to have a license to work on your home, you will want to select a professional who has the experience and training to handle your list of tasks. Speaking of tasks, what types of work do handymen do?

Handyman Tasks

Handyman Tasks

The tasks a handyman can perform are endless, as is the list of home improvements you may want to be done. You can hire a handyman to perform any number of things on your list, such as easy home improvement tasks, or even those projects are a little more difficult.

As we mentioned earlier, if your job has to do with more elaborate electrical, plumbing or HVAC, you probably will want to hire a licensed contractor to do the work. If you find yourself wondering whether you need to hire a handyman or a contractor, you probably should contact a contractor.

Although this list is not comprehensive, a handyman can perform the following tasks in your kitchen and bathrooms:

  • Installing appliances
  • Installing or repairing sinks, toilets, garbage disposals, faucets and fixtures
  • Unclogging drains
  • Tiling
  • Installing countertops

If you have outdoor projects on your list, a handyman can typically help with:

  • Installing or repairing a deck
  • Building or repairing a fence
  • Cleaning gutters
  • Hanging Christmas lights
  • Fixing garage door openers
  • Repairing a sprinkler
  • Landscaping
  • Trimming tree limbs
  • Installing a new mailbox
  • Power washing your home/driveway

Other tasks a handyman can usually take care of for you include:

  • Installing or repairing doors or windows
  • Installing blinds
  • Installing flooring
  • Installing cabinets
  • Building things (carpentry)
  • Painting walls
  • Repairing drywall
  • Installing thermostats
  • Installing shelves
  • Hanging pictures
  • Building or tearing down walls
  • Installing and balancing ceiling fans or light fixtures
  • Cleaning a fireplace
  • Replacing light fixtures and outlets
  • Turning a room into a hobby room

As you can see, a skilled handyman can perform a large number of home improvement tasks.

What Can a Handyman Do in Texas

What Can a Handyman Do in Texas?

In Texas, you do not need a license to become a handyman. As State Representative Paul Workman explained in a KXAN interview, “In Texas, we’re a free market state, so we don’t want to do things to create a barrier for people getting into the business.”

However, you do need a license in Texas to work on plumbing, electrical, air conditioning, heating, ventilating and fire sprinkler systems, as well as to perform other specialized work. If the job is major and you would feel uncomfortable trusting it to someone who is not licensed, bonded and up-to-date on the latest regulations, then you may want to hire a contractor or a professional in the specific area you need the work completed.

According to the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) website, The Texas Electrical Safety and Licensing Act requires TDLR “to adopt the revised National Electrical Code (NEC) as the electrical code for the state of Texas.” The agency recently adopted amendments which established minimum standards for all electrical work in Texas covered by the Act.

In 2017, TDLR conducted a sting operation which resulted in the prosecution of 43 unlicensed contractors in Houston who answered an ad about performing electrical and air conditioning work. In the news report, TDLR Spokesperson Susan Stanford says, “They don’t necessarily meet the minimum knowledge requirement to do safe work in your home or your business.”

A handyman is allowed to do just about any home maintenance job in Texas. However, each city can have its own requirements for a handyman. The only state limitations are that a handyman cannot perform work if it has to do with plumbing, electrical or HVAC in homes. You are allowed to perform these jobs in your own home, but a handyman can’t be hired to work in areas that need a licensed professional.

Of course, whether you can attempt a repair or task and whether you should are two different things. We’ve heard many stories of DIY gone wrong, and you certainly want to avoid plumbing mistakes.

If you decide to outsource the work, Texas homeowners will want to choose an established, reputable company for handyman tasks that has performed many different types of home repairs and improvements. Look at the business’s online reviews for happy customers and see what types of projects the workers take on.

Make the most of your handyman’s time by doing your homework. If you’ve hired a handyman for the day, but then run out of work for him to do or don’t have the supplies for him to do it, you can waste valuable time running out to multiple stores. However, if getting supplies is part of what you don’t have time to do, you can outsource that task to a handyman.

Basic Handyman Skills

Basic Handyman Skills

When deciding on a handyman, ask what jobs the person is comfortable doing and what projects he or she has done before. Not every handyman can do everything and a good handyman will know his or her limitations. Knowing exactly what work you want to be completed, in order of priority, will help you in finding the right handyman to do the job.

When you find a handyman you are comfortable with, ask him or her to provide you with a quote for the job. How long will it take? If it takes longer than expected to complete a task, is there an additional charge? If something isn’t fixed, installed or built correctly, will the company or individual guarantee the work by coming out and redoing it for free? If so, for how long does the warranty last?

Be sure to shop around and remember that cheapest isn’t always best. Get estimates in writing (including the cost of materials), a detailed scope and the timeline so you can compare apples to apples.

Additional questions you might want to ask include:

  • Are you insured? If a worker gets hurt performing work on your home, will he or she file a claim on your homeowner’s policy?
  • How long have you been a handyman?
  • Have you performed the same work you will be doing before?
  • What other types of work have you done?
  • Do you have references for your work?
  • Do you have pictures of similar work you have done?
  • Do you have other jobs you are hired to do at the same time?
  • Do you have a contract we can sign?
  • Who buys the supplies? Is there a markup if the handyman does?
  • How does he or she set pricing? Is it by the job or by blocks of time? If the latter, do you charge by the hour or by the half hour?

Ensure that the contract spells out the scope of work to be performed and what will happen if it isn’t, as well as the timeframe for doing it. These areas cause the most headaches when hiring a handyman or contractor. When you hire someone, you want to make sure you are completely on the same page.

Check references before hiring. Simply going off your gut reaction to someone isn’t always the best policy. The person may be a great person, but that doesn’t mean they’re the best for the job.

Clear communication about expectations is key to helping a project run smoothly. You want to ensure that you and your handyman are on the same page about what work is to be done, the timeframe for doing it, what the finished project should look like and the cost for the project. Working out additional details ahead of time will also help the project go smoothly.

Trust ABC For Your Handyman Tasks

When you choose ABC for your handyman projects, you are selecting a company with a large pool of employees, many of whom have specialized skills. The professionals at ABC Home & Commercial Services not only offer licensed professionals for HVAC, plumbing and electrical work, but also we offer handyman services and appliance repair. If you’re short on time or skills, our professional handymen can do a variety of home improvement or maintenance tasks so that you can make the most of your free time.

Les Stobart

Les joined ABC in 2008 as the Director of Marketing, overseeing marketing, advertising, and communications for ABC’s branches. Les started the Lean Line, Online Chat departments, and manages corporate recruiting. He has a Bachelor of Science in Communications & Advertising from Lamart University. He has been part of the Texas Banking Association, a Financial Literacy Volunteer Teacher, ABC Kite Fest Board of Directors, a Town & Country Youth Soccer Coach, and a Neighborhood Sports flag football coach.

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