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  • Writer's pictureMike Shu

How Would You Describe A Good Handyman?

A good handyman is more than just someone who can fix a leaky faucet. They're a skilled professional who can tackle a variety of home improvement tasks, saving you time, money, and frustration. But what qualities define a truly exceptional handyman? Let's delve into the key characteristics and skills that make a handyman stand out.

Handyman with toolbox

Essential Skills of a Good Handyman

Technical Expertise

Carpentry:  A good handyman should possess a strong foundation in carpentry skills. This includes the ability to:

  • Build furniture: Whether it's assembling pre-fab furniture or constructing basic pieces from scratch, a handyman should be comfortable working with wood and following assembly instructions.

  • Repair cabinets: They can fix loose hinges, replace damaged doors, and address common cabinet issues like sticking drawers.

  • Install shelves: This involves measuring accurately, selecting appropriate fasteners, and ensuring a secure and level installation.

  • Framing: Basic framing skills, like constructing simple walls or repairing existing ones, can be valuable for various projects.

Plumbing:  While complex plumbing jobs should be left to licensed professionals, a good handyman can handle a range of common tasks:

  • Fix leaky faucets: This includes diagnosing the leak source, replacing washers or cartridges, and ensuring a watertight seal.

  • Unclog drains: Using various tools and techniques to remove clogs from sinks, bathtubs, and showers.

  • Install toilets and fixtures: Following manufacturer instructions to properly install toilets, faucets, showerheads, and other bathroom or kitchen fixtures.

  • Troubleshoot minor plumbing issues: A handyman can identify the source of low water pressure, dripping pipes, or running toilets and implement basic repairs.

Electrical:  Safety is paramount when working with electricity. A good handyman understands their limitations and knows when to recommend a licensed electrician. However, they can handle some basic electrical tasks:

  • Safe handling of electrical wiring: This involves identifying different wire types, understanding electrical safety protocols, and using proper tools and equipment to avoid hazards.

  • Replacing light switches and outlets: They can diagnose faulty switches or outlets and replace them with new ones, ensuring proper wiring connections.

  • Installing basic fixtures: This might include ceiling fans, light fixtures, or under-cabinet lighting, as long as the job doesn't involve complex wiring modifications.

Drywall Repair:  Fixing minor drywall damage is a common handyman skill. This includes:

  • Patching holes: They should be able to cut out damaged sections of drywall, install patch material, and ensure a smooth, even surface with proper mudding and sanding techniques.

  • Sanding: Skilled sanding techniques are crucial for a seamless finish, allowing for a flawless paint application.

  • Repainting: A handyman can repaint the repaired area or even the entire wall/ceiling to match the existing color scheme.

FlooringMany handymen are skilled in installing and repairing various types of flooring:

  • Laminate flooring: Understanding the locking mechanisms and laying the planks correctly to create a smooth and even surface.

  • Tile flooring: Properly preparing the subfloor, laying the tiles with appropriate spacing and grout lines, and ensuring a level installation.

  • Vinyl flooring: Following manufacturer instructions for cutting and laying vinyl sheets or tiles, ensuring proper adhesion and a professional finish.

Problem-Solving and Critical Thinking

A good handyman doesn't just fix what's broken; they understand why it broke in the first place. They possess strong problem-solving and critical thinking skills, allowing them to:

  • Analyze a situation: This involves carefully examining the problem, identifying the symptoms, and gathering information to understand the root cause.

  • Think creatively: They can brainstorm various solutions, considering factors like budget, feasibility, and long-term durability.

  • Formulate effective repair solutions: By weighing the pros and cons of different approaches, they choose the most appropriate solution for the specific problem.

  • Adapt to unexpected challenges: During a project, unforeseen issues might arise. A good handyman can think on their feet, adjust their approach, and find alternative solutions to ensure a successful completion.

Attention to Detail

A meticulous approach sets a good handyman apart. They take pride in their work and ensure a clean and professional finish:

  • Quality workmanship: This means making precise cuts, using the right tools for the job, and ensuring secure and long-lasting repairs.

  • Seamless finishes: Whether patching drywall, painting a repaired area, or installing flooring, they strive for a flawless, unnoticeable result that blends seamlessly with the existing surroundings.

Double-checking work: A good handyman doesn't cut corners. They take the time to verify their work is accurate, functional, and meets the agreed-upon standards

Handyman at work

Important Traits of a Top-Notch Handyman

A good handyman can fix things, but a top-notch handyman goes beyond technical skills. They possess a set of important traits that build trust, ensure a smooth project experience, and leave clients feeling satisfied. Here's what sets them apart:

Reliability and Punctuality

Time is valuable for both the client and the handyman. A top-notch handyman demonstrates reliability in two key ways:

  • Punctuality: They show respect for your time by arriving on schedule for appointments, consultations, and project work. This includes keeping you informed of any delays due to unforeseen circumstances.

  • Meeting deadlines: Once a project timeline is agreed upon, they stick to it as closely as possible. This involves clear communication upfront about potential factors that might impact the schedule and proactively discussing adjustments if needed.

Reliability extends beyond just timeliness. A top-notch handyman is also dependable and trustworthy. They follow through on their commitments, complete projects to the agreed-upon standard, and leave you feeling confident that the job is done right.

Strong Communication Skills

Excellent communication is key to a successful handyman-client relationship. Here's what a top-notch handyman excels at:

  • Active listening: They pay close attention to your needs, concerns, and desired outcomes for the project. They ask clarifying questions to fully understand the scope of work and any specific preferences you might have.

  • Clear explanations: They communicate proposed solutions in a way that's easy to understand, even if you're not familiar with technical terms. They explain the reasoning behind their recommendations and outline potential challenges or limitations you might encounter.

  • Project updates: They keep you informed throughout the project. This includes regular progress updates, communication about any unexpected issues that arise, and clear explanations of how they plan to address them.

By keeping the lines of communication open and transparent, a top-notch handyman fosters trust and ensures everyone is on the same page.

Honesty and Transparency

Honesty is paramount when dealing with someone who will be working in your home. A top-notch handyman prioritizes transparency in several key areas:

  • Upfront estimates: They provide detailed written estimates outlining the expected labor costs, materials needed, and the total project cost. They strive to stick to the estimate as closely as possible, and any deviations are clearly communicated with your approval beforehand.

  • Knowing limitations: They are honest about their skillset and are not afraid to say "no" to a job that's beyond their expertise. If a project requires a specialist (like a licensed electrician for complex wiring), they readily recommend qualified professionals.

  • Owning up to mistakes: Even the most skilled professionals can encounter unforeseen issues. A top-notch handyman acknowledges mistakes, takes responsibility for fixing them, and communicates openly with you about the situation.

Professionalism and Work Ethic 

A professional demeanor goes a long way in building trust and ensuring a positive experience. Here's how a top-notch handyman demonstrates professionalism:

  • Organized work area: They maintain a clean and organized workspace throughout the project. This minimizes disruption to your home and shows respect for your property.

  • Pride in work: They take pride in their craftsmanship and strive to deliver high-quality results. They pay attention to detail, ensure a clean finish, and leave the work area spotless.

  • Respectful communication: They treat you and your property with respect. This includes courteous communication, keeping noise levels to a minimum when possible, and being mindful of working hours that are convenient for you.

While core skills and essential traits form the foundation of a good handyman, these additional qualities elevate them to a truly exceptional level:

Versatility and Adaptability

A top-notch handyman isn't a one-trick pony. They possess a versatile skillset that goes beyond the core carpentry, plumbing, electrical, drywall, and flooring expertise mentioned earlier. This might include:

  • Minor appliance repair: Fixing common issues with toasters, garbage disposals, or leaky faucets in dishwashers.

  • Furniture assembly: Being skilled at putting together complex furniture pieces or IKEA flat-pack furniture efficiently.

  • Basic painting: Preparing surfaces, applying paint with clean lines, and achieving a professional-looking finish.

  • Home improvement tasks: Hanging shelves, installing blinds or curtain rods, mounting TVs, or assembling swing sets.

A willingness to learn is another key aspect of adaptability. A top-notch handyman stays up-to-date with new technologies and materials and is open to learning new skills to address specific client needs. For example, they might be willing to learn basic smart home installation or how to repair a unique type of flooring.

Adaptability extends beyond just skills. They can adjust their approach to different work environments.  Some clients might be very hands-on and involved in the project, while others might prefer a more independent approach. A top-notch handyman can adapt their communication style and work manner to ensure a comfortable experience for each client.

Time Management and Efficiency 

Time is money, and a top-notch handyman understands that. They excel at time management by:

  • Prioritizing tasks effectively: They can break down a project into manageable steps, prioritize tasks based on urgency and dependencies, and ensure the project stays on schedule.

  • Staying organized: They arrive with all the necessary tools and materials, keep a clean workspace, and minimize time wasted searching for things. This also helps reduce disruptions to your daily routine.

  • Working efficiently: They use their time wisely, avoiding unnecessary delays and completing tasks with a focus on quality and speed. This helps keep project costs under control and minimizes the impact on your time.

Safety and Cleanliness

Safety should always be a top priority. A top-notch handyman prioritizes a safe work environment for themselves and you:

  • Following safety protocols: They wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) like gloves, safety glasses, and respirators depending on the task. They use tools correctly and follow established safety guidelines for electrical work, ladder use, and handling hazardous materials.

  • Maintaining a clean work environment: They take steps to minimize dust and debris throughout the project. This might involve using drop cloths, dust sheets, or vacuums to contain dust and keep your living space clean.

  • Proper waste disposal: They dispose of waste materials like scrap wood, old fixtures, or packaging materials responsibly. This might involve separating recyclables and hazardous materials for proper disposal according to local regulations.

By prioritizing safety and cleanliness, a top-notch handyman demonstrates their professionalism and respect for your home and well-being.

Woman hiring a handyman

Finding and Hiring a Great Handyman

Finding the right handyman can feel overwhelming, but with the right approach, you can identify a skilled and reliable professional. Here's a roadmap to navigate the process:

Getting Recommendations

Personal recommendations are a goldmine when searching for a great handyman. Here's how to tap into your network:

  • Ask friends, family, and neighbors: Start by reaching out to people you trust. Inquire if they've recently used a handyman for similar projects and if they were happy with the experience. Ask for specific details about the handyman's skills, work ethic, and communication style.

  • Look for online reviews and testimonials: Several online platforms allow customers to leave reviews for service professionals. Check websites like Nextdoor, Angie's List (if you're a subscriber), or review sections on local handyman businesses' websites. Read through reviews to get a sense of the handyman's strengths, weaknesses, and how they handle client interactions.

Interviewing Potential Handymen

Once you have a shortlist of recommended handymen, it's time to conduct interviews. Here's what to cover:

  • Project specifics: Clearly explain the project details, including the desired outcome, any specific requirements, and your budget. Ask the handyman about their experience with similar projects and how they would approach yours.

  • Skills and experience: Inquire about their specific skillset, focusing on the core skills relevant to your project (carpentry, plumbing, etc.) Ask about their experience level and how long they've been working as a handyman.

  • Licensing and insurance: Ensure the handyman has the necessary licenses and insurance for the type of work you need. This protects you in case of accidents or property damage during the project.

  • References: Request references from past clients. Ideally, ask for references with projects similar to yours. Contact the references to get their firsthand experience with the handyman's work quality, communication, and overall professionalism.

Getting Estimates and Contracts

After interviewing potential handymen, obtain detailed written estimates from your top choices. A good estimate should include:

  • Labor costs: This should be a breakdown of the hourly rate or a fixed price for the entire project.

  • Material costs: A detailed list of all materials needed, along with estimated costs.

  • Project timeline: A realistic timeframe for completing the project, including start and finish dates.

Once you've chosen a handyman, solidify the agreement with a formal contract. The contract should clearly outline:

  • Scope of work: A detailed description of the project, including tasks to be completed and materials to be used.

  • Payment terms: The payment schedule, including any down payments, milestones for staged payments, and the final payment due upon completion.

  • Guarantees: Any warranties or guarantees offered by the handyman on their work.

By following these steps, you'll increase your chances of finding a skilled, reliable, and trustworthy handyman who can tackle your project with expertise and professionalism.


Finding a good handyman is an investment in your home and peace of mind. By prioritizing the essential skills, important traits, and additional qualities outlined above, you'll be well-equipped to identify a professional who can handle your project efficiently, effectively, and with a focus on quality. Remember, a top-notch handyman isn't just a skilled tradesperson; they're a reliable partner who communicates clearly, respects your property, and takes pride in delivering exceptional results.  So, don't settle for just any handyman – take the time to find the right one, and enjoy the satisfaction of a job well done in your home.

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