Starting a handyman business: What do you need to know

If you have a flair for something in life, then it’s probably a good idea to use this to your advantage and make a living from it. So, what if you’re the archetypal odd-job man or woman? The person in the family who gets a call to help whenever there’s something practical that needs doing? Why not bottle that up and turn it into your own handyman business?

Sound good? This guide will explore how you can take that idea and turn it into a reality.

Becoming a handyman: What skills do you need?

Being a handyman involves having a natural feel for all sorts of practical tasks around the home that you might be called on to help with. It’s physical work, requires people skills when going into the homes of strangers, calls for flexibility, needs problem solving skills and requires you to be able to manage your time effectively.

Yet, above all else, you need to have the sorts of all-round skills expected of a handyman. These include:

  • Carpentry
  • Plumbing
  • Plastering
  • Painting and decorating
  • Electrical work
  • Tiling

You don’t have to offer all of the above – indeed many people might specialise as plumbers or electricians – but it pays to have a working knowledge of the basics so that you can handle most tasks asked of you with confidence. Clearly, however, you shouldn’t take on work that you don’t have the qualifications or skills to manage. You might well need to review a job and recommend that the customer calls on someone with greater expertise than yourself.

Are there any qualifications you can take?

What if you want to brush up on your skills with some training? Perhaps you want to prove your credentials as being someone who can do a good job?

There are a number of qualifications you can take in the skills required of a handyman. Many of these are offered as vocational courses by colleges and further education centres at NVQ level, while City & Guilds accredited courses are also available. Indeed, it is possible to take a City & Guilds handyman course to cover a broad range of skills.

Achieving these will ensure that you are up to speed with the latest practices – especially relevant if you’re making a career switch and learned all of your skills from a parent many moons ago – as well as giving you something to demonstrate your ability as a handyman.

Business structure

While there are some permanent handyman jobs out there, working in schools, universities or office blocks, chances are that when you start out i you’ll set yourself up as a sole trader. You can read our full guide on what this entails here, but you should rest assured that this can be a fairly swift process.

You then need to think about upfront costs for your business so that you can calculate whether or not you have the finances to do this yourself or require a loan to get you up and running.

What do you need to buy?

So, what might you need to purchase as a handyman? You will most likely need:

  • A good tool set
  • A pair of ladders
  • Protective clothing
  • A torch
  • A van

You might own some of these already, but be sure to test any items you have and consider if any of them need upgrading. Kit that might have been fine around the house might not stand up to scrutiny when you’re being paid for your time.

You also need to set up a website so that people can contact you easily and know which services you offer – and you might also wish to get business cards printed and pin these to notice boards in local shops, for example, or take out an advert in your local paper. Marketing yourself is important, especially before you’re able to establish a reputation, so tell as many people as possible that you’re in business.

How much does a handyman earn?

According to the PayScale website, a handyman earns an average of just under £10 an hour. It’s important to stress, however, that this isn’t set in stone and your earnings could be a lot higher than this, especially as you build up a reputation over time.

You might wish to establish a call out fee (so that you have a guaranteed payment for your time) with an hourly rate above this. You might even want to establish tiered rates, depending on the complexity of the task. Before you start out, gauge the rates being charged by other people offering similar services in your area to ensure you don’t price yourself out of the market.

Handyman insurance: Make sure you’re covered

Finally, you need to make sure you’re covered in case of any accidents. As a handyman, you might well be faced with a complicated issue – and one that isn’t easy to fix. If your actions cause a bigger issue – or if you have a accident in someone’s home – you need to be covered in case of a compensation claim.

This makes public liability insurance and absolute must.

Speak to your insurer, they might be able to offer a package tailored to your work to ensure you’re covered for every eventuality. You need this peace of mind as a handyman, as do your customers.

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