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Handymen perform many of the recurring tasks that are necessary for home maintenance. A handyman can install the shutters on your windows, and then make you glad to look outside because the flowering plants on your porch have been watered and your fence is freshly painted. Handymen will organize your attic and garage, and pack boxes for removal to donation centers or the dump. If a hurricane is coming, they’ll check your sump pumps and board up your windows. They’ll make a trip to the store for batteries, water and other essentials. After the storm, a handyman will clean up debris. If your sump pumps have failed, a handyman will know what local company can protect your home from progressive water damage. When you’re away from home, a handyman can check on the house and notify you about problems. A handyman can feel like a homeowners’ best friend---and is probably a lot more useful!

There is great variation in the skill level of handymen because there are no state requirements for training, licensing or certification. Handymen do not receive a formal education in their field . Some states require handymen to register and to carry insurance. Most handymen are generalists who learn by doing. Many handymen develop their skills though informal, on-the-job apprenticeships.

Certain tasks, such as plumbing and electrical work, carry serious risks and should only be performed by licensed tradesmen. Some tasks, such as faux wall finishes, require experience with sophisticated technique. These tasks are usually not be performed by handymen ---although they carry no risks other than homeowner dissatisfaction! A skilled and ethical handyman knows when to refer a homeowner and where to refer a homeowner.

In the absence of formal education, training and credentials, references are especially important in assessing a handyman’s skills. Inquires about insurance coverage are appropriate. Personal interviews are helpful, particularly if you spend considerable time at home, because there will be ongoing interaction. Always request a written estimate of costs that includes time and supplies.

Many handymen are self-employed, while others are employed by small businesses. Handymen can work independently or as a part of a team. They can help tradesmen in exterior and interior home construction and remodeling. Skilled and experienced handymen have a role in building, installation, cleaning, repair, painting and re-finishing. They work on cabinets, porches, decks, doors, counters, walls, furniture, floors, gutters, fences, awnings and windows.

Handymen can also participate in the kitchen, doorway and bathroom modifications that can be critical to the function of people with physical disabilities. Handymen should be experienced in the application of Universal Design principles that make buildings suitable for people regardless of their disability status.

A good relationship with a handyman can be invaluable for a person with disability who may have simple but urgent needs. The installation of a raised toilet seat and a grab bar can be all that it takes for some people with physical disability to maintain their much desired privacy. A light bulb or a nightlight that needs replacement can be a hazard to someone who uses a walker during the night. When the weather service warns of an impending storm, a person with a physical disability can’t dash to the corner store for a flashlight/radio/ batteries. An individual who relies upon medical equipment for basic mobility may be unable to buy and install battery or charger replacements for mobility scooters, power chairs, wheel chairs, lift chairs, and vehicle lifts.

A skilled and reliable handyman is a valuable asset to a homeowner. Handymen are particularly important to people with physical disabilities who may lead complex and accomplished lives, but be at risk for a fall because they can’t mop up water that has spilled on the floor. A good relationship with a skilled handyman may protect health, happiness and independence.

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