If you are good with your hands and love to fix things around the house, you can easily turn your hobby into an income by starting a handyman business. To start, you must meet registration criteria that differ from state to state. This article will give advice specifically on how to become a handyman in Washington state, and if you live in other parts of the country, you will need to check this advice against your state’s regulations.
What Is A Handyman?
Despite the gender-specific name of the profession, both men and ladies can become handymen. The term “handyman” refers to people performing minor home repairs. Kind of another name for a DIY enthusiast, except as a handyman, you can get paid for your labor. If you find yourself constantly doing simple repairs around your home, you may already be a handyman. As long as the repairs are minor and do not require a specialized skill set, you can do it, and if you do it for strangers (clients), you will get paid for your efforts.
Generally, a handyman does not have a specialization, and they take care of general repairs around the house. They can repair that squeaky door, mow the lawn, and then take care of that leaky tap. Any minor job can be done by a handyman instead of clients calling out trade specialists. Clients prefer calling handyman before they call registered tradesmen because they feel that they will need to pay a handyman less than they would need to pay specialized people like electricians or plumbers. It is true to an extent. However, a handyman’s hourly rate is usually determined by their skills and experience. A novice handyman may charge a lower rate than an experienced one.
Regulations Governing How To Become A Handyman In Washington State.
If you are wondering how to become a handyman in Washington state, here are the rules you need to follow to make sure your new business is legal and you don’t break any laws.
To become a handyman in Washington state, there are no educational requirements you need to meet. A high school diploma will suffice. You don’t need to purchase a handyman license in Washington State. Instead, you need to purchase a business license and register as a specialty contractor with the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries. Your application must state “Handyman” in the specialization field and be signed in front of the notary public. There is also an application fee of $124.70 that needs to be submitted with the application. The license can take up to eight weeks to process and is valid for two years.
To get registered as a contractor with the specialty of handyman, you are required to purchase a Washington Continuous Contractor Surety Bond, which is $6000. It is a lot of money, but if you don’t have a lump sum to outlay at the very start of your business journey, you can apply for the Assigned Savings Account to help you pay the bond money. It is a dedicated account at a bank in Washington State where you must make monthly deposits until you reach the stated bond amount.
The final starting-up cost is the insurance. Every handyman business must purchase a general liability insurance policy by law. The policy needs to be made out in the exact name of your handyman business and list the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries as the bondholder. The required minimum limits your policy must carry are $200 000 in public liability and $50 000 in damages to the property. Alternatively, you can purchase a combined single limit policy of $250 000.
The state licensing board also issues a scope of practice for the handyman, which you can check to see what type of jobs you are allowed to do and which ones you should not do without any further credentials and licensing. As a general rule, a handyman can do any kind of minor repair and general upkeep work on a property as long as it costs each project costs less than $2000. They are not allowed to do any major plumbing or electrical work. Other, specific licensing is required for those jobs.
Having said that, a handyman can connect appliances that require plumbing and electricity. They can connect washing machines or stoves, in a home, provided qualified contractors have already installed all the electrical and plumbing fixtures.
The Difference Between A Handyman And A General Contractor
Even though a handyman can be seen as a general contractor in Washington state, additional licensing is required to become a specialist contractor. A handyman is there to take care of smaller repairs like in the following examples:
Repairing drywall damage.
If the damage is minor, like a hole in a drywall, a handyman can fix it. However, if the damage is extensive where the entire drywall panel needs replacing, or the whole wall needs to be removed, then a contractor needs to be called in. .
Cleaning the roof
If a roof needs washing, there is no need to call a local roofer. A handyman can do the job just as well. On the other hand, if a handyman discovers that their client’s roof is missing tiles and part of the roof needs replacing, they will need to call the local roofer to complete the bigger job. .
While on the roof, if the handyman notices that your chimney needs to be cleaned. It is advisable to call the registered chimney cleaner masonry contractor. Although it seems like cleaning a chimney is a small job, it is specialized, and according to Washington state’s laws, it falls outside of the handyman’s scope of work.
Not all plumbing jobs need a qualified plumber
Plumbing is one of those specialties where sometimes it is difficult to decide whether a plumber or a handyman should do it. If a job requires extensive plumbing work that needs a permit, then this type of job would be outside of the handyman’s expertise. However, if it is only to fix a leaky tap, then a handyman is the person to call. .
If a handyman receives a call from a client to come and connect a dishwasher, they can take the job provided that all the plumbing and electric fixtures are already installed, and the handyman can connect the new appliance to existing fittings. If the dishwasher needs to be moved to another place in the kitchen and the water pipes and electric connections need to be changed to fit the new position, then the client will have to call the licensed plumbing company to help them.
A similar situation arises when it comes to fixing the toilets and drain cleaning. It is in the work scope of the handyman to unblock drains and toilets using a snake pipe to clear the blockage, but if something is more seriously wrong, like a leaking sewage pipe, the client will again need to call the licensed plumbing company.
Electrical work can become dangerous if things are not done properly and usually requires professional electricians to do the job. However, some of the minor jobs involving electricity, like changing light bulbs or minor appliance repairs, can be done by a handyman most of the time. Depending on their experience and expertise, of course. If you are still a novice handyman, it is probably better to advise your prospective clients to call in local electricians to complete any projects involving electricity. For your sake and theirs. .
Getting rid of critters and vermin that invade your home.
Sometimes, critters and insects invade homes. As a handyman, you may want to tackle removing all unwanted guests your clients want gone. A handyman can remove ants, rats, cockroaches, and even termites from the client’s property. However, sometimes, and especially when a property is being sold, a client may request a certificate that specifies that the property is free of (usually) termites. A handyman cannot issue such a certificate. If your client requests a certificate, they must call a professional exterminator. .
Working with the HVAC systems.
In Washington state, many homes are equipped with HVAC systems to heat them during winter and cool them during summer. A handyman can do minor repairs to air conditioning systems, but it would be better to leave the HVAC Service to the professionals. HVACs have many specialized parts that, if fixed incorrectly, may become hazardous and often require specialized tools that you, as a handyman, may not have. If a client calls you to check their HVAC system and do a general air duct cleaner, it is better to decline the job and let them call in professional HVAC service people.
How to Grow Your Business as a Handyman.
Usually, a handyman business consists of only one person, you. You may need to change your registration to a general contractor if you employ people. But that doesn’t mean you cannot grow and develop your business. Getting new clients takes time and patience. At first, you may get only small jobs, like re-attaching broken doorknobs or painting out an attic, but as time passes, and if your clients are happy with your work, you will start getting more clients who give you more exciting jobs.
As you learn how to deal with customers and grow your reputation as a reliable person who does the job on time and there are no comebacks on the quality of your work, word of mouth will help you get more customers.
Over time, you also will be able to increase your profitability. By learning (often the hard way by making mistakes) how to estimate the cost of the job and pricing properly, accordingly, you will be able to take home more money.
No business was ever successful without marketing. As a one-person business, you must also take care of that. It doesn’t have to be expensive or take up much time. For instance, as a beginner handyman, you can start with a one- or two-page website and a free Google business listing. This way, your customers will know where to find you. If you prefer getting your customers the old-school way, you can invest in some business cards and hand them out to people interested in hiring you. On the other hand, if you can work your magic with social media and have the time to do it, you can start a profile on social media outlets like Facebook and Instagram, where you can post pictures of the jobs you completed. You can also ask your clients to leave testimonials on your social media pages so that others know you are dependable and do the job well.
Besides marketing, to succeed, you will need to continue improving your skills in fixing things. The more skilled you are, the higher the prices you can ask; therefore, you will make more money.
If all this “jack-of-all-trades” work becomes too much, you can continue growing your business by specializing in one of the trades. Working as a handyman will give you insight into many of the trades available, and if you find that you love one type of work more than others, you could specialize in that area and become a qualified contractor. Perhaps you love plumbing work, but as a handyman you are limited in the scope of plumbing work you can do. To take on more complex jobs, you can qualify as a plumber and carry on your business that way. You will be able to charge more for your work as a qualified tradesman than as a handyman.
So now you know more about how to become a handyman in Washington state. It is not a very difficult business to start. It may become your dream job if you have the necessary skills and tenacity to become a business owner. .