Handyman Rates

happsMarch 30, 2011

What is the typical U.S. Average hourly handyman rate? A handyman moved into my neighborhood and told me that he would charge me $180 in labor to install a sprinkler clock, change the innards on two toilets as well as install 1/4 turns valves on them. I would be responsible for buying all parts and would pay the handyman $180 in labor. Is this a fair price?

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mike_kaiser_gw

Labor rates for anything vary greatly from location to location and even within the same city. There's simply no way to say if X is a fair price. The best you can do is get other estimates and make a decision.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2011 at 9:03AM
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sierraeast

Always get more than one estimate, dont necessarily go with the lowest but base your decision by checking references, making sure they are insured and are legal. Out here a Handyman has to have a business license, be insured, and can do no more than $500.00 materials and labor per address per year without having a states contractor's license.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2011 at 10:39AM
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HandyMac

The labor depends entirely on the amount of work involved. Those items caold take a n hour total, or two hours, depending on the types of valves/innards.

That amount might be low for the West/East Coast, but it seems about $40 too high for the Kansas City area when you do the part chasing.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2011 at 5:19PM
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shadetree_bob

Well one problem here is that we have no way to know any of the small details. Generally if nothing is rusted or stuck then the two toilets should take about 1 1/2 hours to do. However the sprinkler clock is a totally different situation. Is he replacing an old one or is it a totally new one. Replacing an old one could be from one to two hours if all the wires are in good shape. If he has to wire in the new one then the time could go up considerably. Most of the time you just can not estimate how long jobs will take without actually being there and knowing ALL the details. For instance running new wires, sometimes running just one new wire could take an hour. Get several estimates and make sure that they all are bidding on exactly the same things and that they have actually seen the job site.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2011 at 9:18PM
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totsuka

It is difficult to judge the quality of workmanship vs cost until after a few jobs are completed by your handyman. The jobs you described might take a better part of a day for that guy to complete is not such a bad rate per hour. I would check his paperwork to insure he has a business license, insurance etc...You could give this guy a try and see how professional of a job he does for you.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2011 at 8:27AM
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sombreuil_mongrel

$75/hr for housecalls is pretty standard; anything less could be a bargain, or a red flag.
Casey

    Bookmark   April 3, 2011 at 12:08PM
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homebound

Here's one for you. I was doing a small project in DC and came across a guy down the back alley with a business card that said "Design - Build - Install" and his name. He was a young, highly-wired, frenetic type (sort of like Charlie Sheen, come to think of it) with mad scientist hair like that TV Sears dude from the DIY shows (Ty something?). Had nice Makita tools, though. Says he's looking to pocket....drumroll, please......$125-150/day for jobs!! Then I learned he has no wheels so he's focusing only on the local neighborhood. Crazy. And this guy already had keys to folks houses, which says something about how willing people will suspend their higher brain function to get a deal.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2011 at 9:22PM
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happs

Thanks for all the tips. I ended up hiring the handyman and everything went well. He spent a hour replacing the innards on two toilets and three 1/4 turns and three hours on replacing a sprinkler clock, because it was difficult removing the old one and making the new one fit (pipes lining up).

    Bookmark   April 4, 2011 at 5:15PM
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bill_g_web

Do most handymen/tradespeople who charge an hourly rate have the clock running while shopping?

Thanks,

Bill

    Bookmark   April 6, 2011 at 10:02AM
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sierraeast

For time + materials projects, it's typical to add 10% to cover costs of picking up/ordering materials, tool wear, vehicle fuel/ wear & tear, etc.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2011 at 10:11AM
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bill_g_web

Thanks, Sierra - My sister was complaining about her guy charging to shop and I told her to relax and pay the guy - everyone has to make a living.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2011 at 9:58PM
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shadetree_bob

If you want the guy to do the shoping for you then expect to pay him/her their hourly rate. Generally I give the customer a detailed parts/lumber list and tell him/her that they can go get the stuff or pay me to do it. Time on the job is time on the job even if you are 20 miles away picking up materials.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2011 at 10:23PM
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mike_kaiser_gw

Do most handymen/tradespeople who charge an hourly rate have the clock running while shopping?

Regardless of how it's done, the handyman/trades person needs to be compensated for their time. Depending on the nature of the work it could be built into "overhead" and part of the hourly rate or cost of the job, built into a parts mark-up, or at a straight hourly rate.

Because of the varied nature of a handyman's work, it's unreasonable to expect them to carry an assortment of extra parts, unlike, say, an electrician. It's also a little difficult to always use the same formula to account for the time spent getting materials. Let's say I need to spend an hour driving to the other end of town to buy a $12 faucet cartridge because your house has some odd ball fixture. I'd need to mark that cartridge up five hundred percent to account for my time and travel expenses. If I get a $500 toilet from a supply house ten minutes away, I can't market that up 500%.

The important part is to have good communication with whomever is working for you and be certain to understand how they charge for their time.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2011 at 12:34PM
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energy_rater_la

LOL!!

sierraeast:
"can do no more than $500.00 materials and labor per address per year without having a states contractor's license."

wow! that's strict. I can't imagine anyone enforcing that here. $500 materials AND labor!

    Bookmark   May 23, 2011 at 8:58AM
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sierraeast

They were talking about having a states handyman license you could test/apply for that would up that $500.00 labor/materials, but it never came about. In some respects, a true handyman covers a big majority of trades similar to a builders responsibility so it's in the best interest of a handyman wanting to take on large projects to go ahead and test/ apply for a b-1 states contractors license. Problem is that 4 years out of the previous ten years has to be in specific trades although it's my understanding that handyman experience can qualify to take the state exam.

Every now and then the contractors licensing board does sweeps in areas busting those who are unlicensed doing more than the allocated labor + materials work.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2011 at 10:44AM
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energy_rater_la

too bad the testing for license never happened.
maybe in the future....

if epa came down here lots of hvac companies would be
fined for releasing freon into the atmosphere.
there is a $10,000 fine for that.
I've often thought of filming some of the co's doing this.
but...I haven't. Just tell them about the fine and
that they need to capture & recycle.
ok..maybe I've told them I'd report them if they didn't
capture and recycle.
not a snitch by nature, but these things destroy the ozone
layer and its kinda a sore spot with me.

oh well!

    Bookmark   May 24, 2011 at 7:16PM
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sierraeast

World needs more folks like you. If you see wrong and especially if it's something you have a passion for, it's good to take action or at least threaten to report it. Nice to know there are folks out there like yourself who care!

    Bookmark   May 24, 2011 at 8:22PM
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rugbyplayer2

I used to be a claims adjuster. they had a book with the hourly ave. rate for almost any imaginable job. based on cost per sq foot. that gave at least a baseline for a licensed union tradesman. Why aren't these available for the average consumer?

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 1:21PM
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rugbyplayer2

if your guy is a union guy moonlighting I'd be careful about threats.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 1:31PM
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mike_kaiser_gw

There are rate books (the exact name escapes me) and I'm pretty sure anyone can buy one. I do seem to recall they're pretty pricey and need regular updating. There are also web sites that do the same thing.

Such tools are useful for estimates but in the end it's going to come down to what a homeowner is willing to pay a tradesman to perform a task and what fee a tradesman is willing to do that same task. That's why getting several estimates is a good idea.

This thread is about handyman rates and those books are for estimating a job for a specific trade. They assume that a receptacle will be installed by an electrician or a wall painted by a painter. As I recall they also seemed to be geared toward "larger" jobs. There's some degree of overhead that still needs to be accounted for regardless of job site. For example, a carpenter needs to haul out his tools regardless if he is hanging 40 feet of crown moulding or 400. He's going to need to take the time to order the moulding too; 400 feet doesn't take any longer to order than 40 feet. You get the idea.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 11:15PM
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homebound

I'm a handyman and just did some odds and ends work for a house going on the market. Only about 5-6 total hours of work. The homeowner asked me to itemize my quote by task so they could pick which ones they wanted to do.....ok.

Bathroom needed new toilet flapper (particular one) & glass shower door adjustment (heavy glass, not the cheap stuff). I figured around $100 + parts total for that room, but decided to break it down like this: $45 to supply/install flapper and $75 to adjust door and tighten frame to wall.

They told me twice that I was high on the shower door quote. I did not want to touch it for less. I did want to reply "can you tell me what I was low on, too?"

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 9:54AM
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doug_gb

@homebound: "I did want to reply "can you tell me what I was low on, too?" "

My wife had a window fashion business. I say had. After the internet and the big box stores it has destroyed most small businesses.

What we noticed over the years is that the number of 'shoppers' really grew in number. There are some people who have nothing better to do than get 6 quotes for a single pleated shade. Then they will ask you 'do you do 90 days same as cash' - for a $150 sale.

It's disgusting that these people think nothing of wasting your time, and not considering that you have travel time and transportation and some overhead.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 12:58PM
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homebound

Agreed. I couldn't have said it better.

I have a neighbor for whom I had done (past tense) a lot of work on her home and a rental house. Then she started asking for very detailed descriptions of how to solve/repair/hang things, etc., and where I would get certain parts, etc. She seemed to think I was her personal helpdesk, or something. This, and then requests for line-by-line quotes for work.

You know what happens next, right? She gave half the work to another "friend" after I invested a lot of time on "how to do it" education. Learning lesson, there.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 1:36PM
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