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A handyman will charge you a call-out fee and an hourly rate.
A handyman will charge you a call-out fee and an hourly rate. Photodisc

Remember this guy? Whatever happened to the handyman

CUPBOARD doors that don't quite shut properly, floorboards that creak, a crack in the wall ... in the good old days, our parents would have called up the local handyman, who made his living out of fixing these small, tedious problems.

There are fewer traditional handymen around these days, partly because of concerns about liability and insurance.

For a while, this meant the only way you could get anyone to work on your house was to have major remodelling work done.

But now things are swinging back the other way; firms which would have sneered at a few odd jobs will jump at the chance to rehang your front door or replace a window.

One of the common misconceptions is that your local handyman will offer better rates than a bigger firm who'll offer a specialist service. This isn't always the case, but you can usually be sure that if you need a licence to do the work it will be more expensive.

A handyman will charge you a call-out fee and a minimum hourly rate, so it's often most cost-effective to hire them if you have a range of small jobs that need doing.

How to choose a good handyman:

Look at the rates they're offering, what reviews they have for their work and most importantly your gut feeling when you meet them - do you like them and are you happy for them to be working on your house?

What to do before you call:

We all want to keep down the costs of work we need to contract out, so get yourself and your house organised before you get anyone in.

Know exactly what you want done. Walk right through your property with a critical eye. Have a friend with you (as a fresh pair of eyes) and carry a pen and paper. List everything that needs doing, room by room, and then do the grounds as well. You can divide them into separate lists, so you have all the window repairs listed together, for example.

Get it all done together. Most tradies will charge you more for the first hour or a call-out fee so it makes sense to get all the work in one area done at the same time.

Give him your list. Then there will be no disagreements about what you asked him to do. It'll save you time as you won't need to explain as much, and he'll be able to organise his time effectively, saving you money.

To get professional help:

  1. Explain it once. No ring-around. Say what you need done, on or on 1300 557 917.
  2. They contact you.
  3. Get up to three quotes from certified, licensed, insured and qualified businesses.
  4. You pick the best
  5. Use quotes, feedback and online profiles to select the right provider for you.  

Attention tradies: For information on how to become a local Service Central member, call 1300 136 181 (press 4) or email

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