Handyman services are becoming more and more popular in New Jersey as homeowners seek to save time and money on repairs and upgrades. If you need to replace a window, repair a fence, fix a few loose tiles on the bathroom floor and paint the living room, a good handyman should be able to handle all of these tasks.
However, you need to be very careful about who you hire to perform work in and around your home. Here are three key points to keep in mind.
- In New Jersey, anyone who is paid for home improvement work, including a handyman, is considered a contractor and must register with the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs.
There are very few exceptions to this. Registration requires the handyman to complete an application, show proof of insurance, and disclose any prior criminal convictions. Never let anyone perform any kind of work in your home if they don’t have insurance.
If you hire an uninsured handyman and he is injured on your property, you can be sued for medical bills and lost wages. If an uninsured handyman damages your property, there’s a good chance that it won’t be covered by your homeowner’s insurance unless your policy includes a clause for this type of situation.
- A handyman who performs services as an architect, engineer, land surveyor, electrician or master plumber must be licensed as such in New Jersey.
The license serves as proof that the person has met industry standards in a particular field. If a handyman offers to make plumbing repairs, for example, but isn’t a licensed plumber, he’s breaking the law. And you may end up with shoddy repairs that lead to more serious and more expensive issues down the road.
Just remember, anyone can put “fully insured” on a business card. Get proof and confirm it yourself.
- Any project costing more than $500 still requires a contract.
Suppose you ask for a written agreement and the handyman says, “I’m just a handyman. I don’t get into all of that.” Don’t fall for it.
It doesn’t matter how you label yourself. Legally, you have to put all terms and conditions in writing, and all parties must sign off on any changes. Without a written contract, you and the handyman will both be rolling the dice.