Is it better to use cheaper handymen (sometimes unreliable, quit, etc.) or more expensive contractors to complete work on a house we're selling?

Asked by JKS, Oklahoma City, OK Sun Mar 27, 2011

We've had some good "cheap" workers but most have quit mid-job and we're facing a month time frame in which to market our house. What do we do?

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Zmbrennan, , San Jose, CA
Sun Mar 27, 2011
If this is not your full time profession, you are at a disadvantage when it comes to hiring and managing.
Just look at it as you would any other business:

1.) If you need to hire a temp, in most businesses it is useful to have a relationship with someone who has knowledge and influence over the employee. ie a temp agency. In this case I have found that the best local realtor often are most helpful. They can recommend someone and that person will want the continued referrals from the realtor, providing a certain level of answerability you would not have on your own.
This is most useful in the event you should have reason to insist on call-backs should you find a problem with the work done.
2.) Always be certain any labor done is done by someone licensed and bonded.
3.) Have a very detailed list of work ordered and price agreed to signed by yourself and the worker before service begins.
4.) Agree only to pay for changes which are in writing with a price specific and signed off on by both parties.
%.) Agree inwriting to a payment schedule and never let the worker get ahead of of the payment agreement.
Good luck!
1 vote
Jennifer Bla…, Agent, Owasso, OK
Sun Mar 27, 2011
It does NOT mean that someone is more reliable just because they are more expensive or have an add in the yellow pages. It does depend on what type of work you need help with, as to who I would recommend. As Russell, I also have a great guy that does handy man work. He goes to my church and does an awesome job! He isn't as expensive as everyone else, he is totally reliable and (most importantly) he's honest! I know you are looking at hiring a Realtor too. If I were in your situation, I would interview some Realtors, ask them to look at the house and get their opinion on what you should focus on getting the home "sell-ready." Than get handyman or contractor referrals from the Realtors you interview, most good Realtors will also have a network of handymen or contractors. Let me know if you would like the contact information of some people we recommend.

Jennifer Henning
[p] 405.625.1576
2 votes
Rose Wilkins…, Home Buyer, Edmond, OK
Fri Jul 15, 2016
Here are the two types of contractors that are most common:

Number One:

"I will be glad to do your job for peanuts and a six pack of beer, but I don't have a pick up truck or tools, so I need you to pick up the materials and have them delivered to the house, buy my tools and give me a small advance so I have gas money to drive back and forth to the property."

Number Two:

"How did you hear about us? Oh! I'm glad you found my $10,000 dollar yellow pages ad and fancy billboard off the highway!" And while they are full service, they pass the cost of advertising onto YOU.

The secret is to find a contractor that is right in the middle of these two. That is your sweet spot. Someone who has a pick up truck, their own tools and a credit line to buy the materials who doesn't spend an arm and a leg on advertising (which makes them harder to find)

Angies List is a good resource, but you can get away with checking out service postings on Craigslist. Just make sure the contractor has their own tools, pick up truck and lots of references. The especially talented and proud ones keep pictures of their work in a portfolio.

Hope this helps.

Rose Wilkinson
0 votes
Josh Barnett, Agent, Chandler, OK
Sun Apr 22, 2012
Good Contractors are the only way to go. You do not want to have to pay for the job twice. If the repairs are not found acceptable by the buyer or turn up as not acceptable repairs during the Home Inspection, having to pay for the job twice will probably cost more than just paying the more expensive cost the first time.

I recommend, Anthony Davis, w/ All Davis Repairs, his number is 405-473-6988, tell him Josh referred you.

Hope this helps,

Josh Barnett, Realtor
The 1% Listing Fee w/MFR
0 votes
Carolyn Sims, Agent, Oklahoma City, OK
Thu Apr 5, 2012
Talk to your realtor and others that you trust to get a referral. I have several contractors that I trust and would be happy to help you with finding someone. If you don't have a realtor, I would also be happy to help you with the sale of your house.

Just give me a call at 405-808-7922.

Carolyn Sims
Keller Williams Northwest
0 votes
Irina Karan, Agent, Aventura, FL
Thu Apr 5, 2012
When you are selling a house, you got to start looking at it from the point of view of the buyer.
If the work is done well and it looks good - the buyer won't care who did the job, as long as it was done properly and to code. It is different when the job involves permitting - always hire a good reliable contractor recommended by your realtor or a circle of friends/family. There are also referral companies like Service Magic and Angie's List - I have used the Service Magic and was happy with their services.

My clients often use handymen who are wonderful and yes, they are cheaper...
I don't recommend them for something that requires a permitted work though.

Best of luck with your project,

Irina Karan, CDPE - Florida
Beachfront Realty, Inc.
0 votes
Cathy Chrost, Agent, Dana Point, CA
Thu Apr 5, 2012
I wouldn't recommend "cheaper handymen" to anyone! You get what you pay for and it's usually more expensive to fix their mess ups.
My preferred way is to make a cash concession if possible . In that way a seller doesn't have to be concerned with a dissatisfied buyer regarding how the repair was done and the buyer agrees to a price to do the work himself to his own satisfaction once he owns the property. Its a win-win. This is only possible if it's not a serious code violation or something that would prevent financing of course.
0 votes
Mack McCoy, Agent, Seattle, WA
Sat Mar 24, 2012
Stop using "cheap" workers.

Is this the most valuable asset you own? You need to have competent, licensed, and fully-bonded contractors and service professionals work on it.

All the best,
0 votes
Kawain Payne, Agent, Seal Beach, CA
Sat Mar 24, 2012
If you are selling a home please use a contractor!

You will want to make sure the repairs are done in accord to all the health, safety , and building codes for your city. The last thing you need is to have the buyer's property inspection reveal work that was done below standards, in which case the buyer may request you to have the repairs redone. And if your handy man cut too many corners you could even face a citation from your city.

Best of Luck to you.

Kawain Payne, Realtor
0 votes
Rose Wilkins…, , Edmond, OK
Wed Mar 30, 2011
I am a real estate investor in Oklahoma City, and I've found the best contractors to hire are the ones that are in "the middle of the road" as far as cost is concerned.

When it comes to the ultra cheap contractors, a lot of them will expect you to pay for materials upfront, deliver them, and they almost never budget how much materials will cost (but they still expect you to pay them the same amount in labor, even though their material figures are way off) And of course, managing them is a NIGHTMARE.

On the other end of the spectrum, if you hire a contracting company with a giant sized ad in the yellow pages or who advertises on television a lot, you pay for that advertising! The nice thing about those companies is that they are on point with their estimates, they do a quick job, and management of them is hands free, for the most part.

So, the trick is to find a good contracting company that doesn't do a lot of advertising. The best place to go to ask around and find one is your local real estate investors association. People who have rental properties or who flip properties once in a awhile have a lot of good leads.
0 votes
Carolyn Sims, Agent, Oklahoma City, OK
Sun Mar 27, 2011
Get a referral from someone you trust. There are many reasonably priced contractors. As an example, I use an urban forester to trim my trees. I have found that he is less expensive from people with less knowledge and experience.

If you have a realtor that you trust, get a referral from them. We use contractors frequently and know reliable people to do most any job.

I would be happy to help you. You can contact me at 405-808-7922 or
0 votes
Karen Moseley, Agent, Edmond, OK
Sun Mar 27, 2011
Realtors do build up a referral list. Also, I take people off mine as well. If someone treats a client badly they are no longer getting my business. Cheap or licensed, both can be good or bad. I agree that some jobs must have permits pulled. If you are in doubt you can call the city code office yourself and tell them what you want done, They will tell you if a permit is required.

Karen Moseley
EXIT Real Estate
0 votes
Russell Bens…, Agent, Oklahoma City, OK
Sun Mar 27, 2011
I would take years of experience, honesty and trustworthiness over a licensed and bonded contractor any day of the week. Granted there are certain situations where you must have someone that can pull permits, etc but the majority of the time you don't. Having one person that can perform multiple repairs will result in a big savings to you. Most people, myself included would rather meet one person one time rather than meet 5 people at 5 different times. Now, if we could only get the cable guy there when he said he would!

Russell Benson, Realtor®
Prudential Alliance Realty
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0 votes
Jennifer Wea…, Agent, Yukon, OK
Sun Mar 27, 2011
It is good to get referrals from your friends and family so that you can know that someone you know and trust had a good experience with a particular person or company. I have a handful that I use because I know that they do quality work and are reasonably affordable, but not "cheap". If you don't have any referrals from friends or family, I would be happy to give you contact information for the ones that I prefer using.

Jennifer Poch
Apple Realty
0 votes
William Fran…, Renter, Union City, NJ
Sun Mar 27, 2011
Good Wage and Good Pay is the only true cheap labor. Better to pay a "higher" nominal price than to suffer manyother forms of economic expense.
0 votes
Russell Bens…, Agent, Oklahoma City, OK
Sun Mar 27, 2011
Knowing a good and reliable person is the key. A person knowledgable in most areas of home repair is the best. I use a man who've I done business with for 10 years that has proven himself reliable and much cheaper than someone out of the yellow pages. If you would like, I can email you his info and you van visit with him and see what you think about him. He's the one I call for my personal work as well as business items. Good luck!

Russell Benson, Realtor
Prudential Alliance Realty
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0 votes
Wells Bridge…, Agent, OKC, OK
Sun Mar 27, 2011
Good morning Janice,

I agree, make sure the people you are hiring are bonded and insured. Check with the material vendors for referrals. They will have a list of people that they use use regularly. They can provide contact info and hopefully some history on those people. You might try Bill Palmer. He's a handyman who's done a lot of work for some of our realtors. 202-8564.
0 votes
Accurate Ins…, Other Pro, Chicago, IL
Sun Mar 27, 2011
Considering you are in a time crunch using someone more reliable might be better for your situation.
Often when its time to sell, owners lean towards using the cheapest guy they can find. Why pay more, why do it right, why care, we're just selling the place next month anyway?
Buyers are getting more educated and are pickier, in part due to the market, than they were a few years ago. Whatever money you think you might save on the front end (paying the contractor) you may easily lose during the negotiation process. If the home inspection reveals those deficiencies you can bet the buyers are going to ask for a price adjustment.
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David Franke, Agent, Edmond, OK
Sun Mar 27, 2011
You need to use who can do the work correctly because when you list your home and sell it. The home will be inspected by the buyer. You need to have an experienced realtor come and advise you on what to do. No cost godme to look
If I can help, please call or email
0 votes
Dave Griswol…, Agent, Bridgewater, NJ
Sun Mar 27, 2011
Hi Janice, A licensed contractor is best but for small jobs often times you can find a handyman who is insured and will do the work you need to have done look for more reputable ones. check your local newspaper or if you can pick up free magazines at the super markets etc. sometimes the best ones are found there. We've found no difference in work with either. We've personally had a licensed contractor who said the job would take 2 weeks and he took nearly 2 months and didn't do all we requested but wanted to get paid as if he did. so beware, put everything in detail on a contract or list and make who ever is doing the work sign to it with their prices. it's real important.

All the Best
Dave & Lisa
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0 votes
Dp2, , Virginia
Sun Mar 27, 2011
It's best to use someone who's licensed, bonded, and insured.
0 votes
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