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What is a professional handyman?

Updated: Jul 10, 2023

At first glance, this question seems to be irrelevant. Even a bit comical. I mean there is no such thing as a "professional handyman" right? Isn't a handyman just a retiree looking for a few extra bucks? Or a guy on Craigslist working on a side hustle for beer money? Unfortunately, this stereotype has permeated so deeply into our psyche that it's hard to remove our common view of a home repair professional or what we call a handyman. Let's look at some commonly held views of what a handyman is, as well as what one looks like and what he or she drives shall we?

First of all, I'd like for you to examine the following pictures.

An old blue pickup truck

"Honey! The handyman is here!"

An old rusted pick up truck parked in a field

What you have pictured above is the stereotypical view of what people imagine handymen drive. Should I disagree with that? NO! Why? It's because the individuals who perform home repairs in vehicles like this are NOT professionals. That's right. For the longest time doing minor home repairs was simply a means of gaining a bit of extra income for people who already had regular jobs. This means they made and or make minimal investments in the vehicles they use to transport materials and any tools needed to perform the tasks at hand. This also applies to their clothing their overall appearance and most importantly to the customer, any insurance that will protect them from expensive disasters. This isn't to say that I don't respect these hardworking individuals. I admire their tenacity and bravery in going into someone's home to perform a repair that is often complicated. In fact, I started off as one of them. Only I didn't drive a truck it was a van that I remember fondly. For anyone starting out as a home repair professional, a van is a much better investment than a pickup truck. I did so for a year then realized that my business model wasn't sustainable for the long term and rebuilt everything from the ground up.

Essentially what that means is that there's a way for you to define what a professional handyman is. In just about every state in the U.S., a professional handyman is a kind of building or remodeling contractor. In San Antonio Texas, you are required to obtain a contractor's license with the designation HR, which stands for home remodeler as opposed to HB which stands for a home builder. The HR limits the contractor to 400 sq ft or less. Of course that won't apply to small jobs like a ceiling fan installation or garbage disposal installation. In fact, there's no license needed for those. There is however one huge safety benefit to the customer for hiring a licensed handyman that we'll get to shortly. For now, the HR license is one way to identify a professional from a fly-by-night handyman. What's another?

At a minimum, a liability insurance policy is held by the professional. I can't over-emphasize the importance of this detail. This completely sets a professional apart from the weekend warrior types because it protects your assets. So if you're wondering why the well-dressed guy with the logo on his shirt and truck charges more for his services, it's because he pays more to offer you and your property protection, as well as himself, in case the worst happens. The opposite is true of hiring a handyman without insurance. Speaking of logos and matching trucks, does that matter?

In the grand scheme of home repairs and professional handyman services? Only if the person wants to succeed as a handyman. To the homeowner, the primary emphasis is on getting the job done correctly and efficiently. However, the homeowner can mitigate risk by looking for someone who has obviously poured effort into making themselves stand out and is willing to bring that same value to whoever hires them. Things like a website (EX. a uniform, being willing to accept various forms of payment and not just cash, Yelp pages a presence on Google with reviews, are all clues that you're on the right track to hiring a professional handyman. If you live in the San Antonio area, here's another. In San Antonio, if you want a contractor's license you are required to receive not just a police background check, but an FBI background check in addition to that. This is the safety benefit that I mentioned earlier. Who would you rather have in your home? Look at the pictures above again. Now look at the one down here.

A professional handyman standing in front of his white pickup truck

I hope that I provided some value to you in your search for a professional handyman. There is plenty more to write about regarding this subject but I will save that for another post.

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