An elderly reader needs some help around the house

Finding an Affordable, Safe Handyman

by Dollar Stretcher Readers

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Finding an Affordable, Safe Handyman

I have a problem that probably plagues many older, single women. I need simple repairs and easy to do help around the house that I can't manage without climbing or lifting heavy objects. How do I find dependable, safe, reliable and affordable help? It is obvious I live alone and I don't want to make myself a target. I have no family or friends that I can call for this kind of help. I have been in my home for weeks and it is still bare. I need help with hanging curtains and setting up a king-size bed. I also need help with yard work. I feel like I've just moved in and would like to get settled. Any ideas would be welcomed!

Call Local Churches

Try a church in your area. They will usually have some very trustworthy men who would be glad to help. Also, try the local college.

Employ a Young Person

What about providing a young person with job experience? Unemployment is generally higher for young people aged 16-22 due to lack of job experience. In the city where I live, there's an organization called "CEYS" (Career and Employment Youth Services) that helps young people find employment and helps match them up with employers, even just for casual work. Why not look if there's a similar organization in your neighborhood, and see if they have anyone who needs job experience that is willing to come help you out? They might not know how to do everything, but they can certainly help you assemble furniture, clean your gutters, paint a wall, or help with housekeeping! Generally, the people at the office get to know the kids they're helping, so that will help take some of the worry out of it!

Finding a Handyman at College

I called our local college and asked to speak with an advisor. I then said I needed someone to do odd jobs. I was thinking a young college student would be interested. She put me in touch with a carpenter (20 years experience, ex-Navy) who is going back to school to finish his degree. We met, and he agreed to do my repairs for $100 a month. He is guaranteed $100 each month, he can work a flexible schedule, and I made a list of what I wanted repaired. Each month he works one day for me about four to five hours. As a bonus, he pointed out things I did not know were more urgent than my own "wish" list.

I called a local handyman who said he charges $40 an hour, a handyman service that said that they charge by the job ($50-100 was average), and a carpenter who said that he had no time for trivial jobs but charged by the job, too. This way, I get three or four small jobs done for $100. And my handyman-student is happy with the extra income.

Join Angie's List

My mom, who is in the same boat, got a subscription to Angie's List. If that is available in your area, it is wonderful. You look up the service you need and get to read other people's experiences with them. You can see the company's average grade and histogram and then paragraph upon paragraph of what real people thought of their dealings with the company. My mom found an A/C contractor, a computer repair guy, and a plumber this way and has been very happy. She makes sure to tell them that she found them through Angie's List so they know she will be rating them.

She was so happy with this that I now have a subscription to Angie's list in my town, and I have used them for handyman services, dry wall repair, dishwasher repair, and a roofing problem. I look at the histogram and try to only call companies with a good number of ratings (15-25) and a histogram that shows they got over 90% of people giving them an "A." I have been very happy with them. I still call and get two to three quotes on the problem and/or their hourly rate before I make a decision and I always give a review when I am done so others can benefit from my experience. It is about $30 a year, but I can not say enough good things about the peace of mind I have using companies with good ratings on Angie's List.
Celeste in Ohio

Boy Scouts May Be Able to Help

She could call the Boy Scouts and then make a contribution to them. They are great help.

Look for Community Action Program

In our area, we have a CARES group, which is government sponsored. Among the offerings, there is a free chore service that should be able to do what this lady needs. I believe it is free, but of course, they welcome donations, so that these services will continue to be funded. I would look in the phone book for something similar, such as a Community Action Program. Bet that someone could help if you were to call United Way also for information.

Seek Help through Church or Synagogue

You don't have to be a religious person to go to a fairly large church and ask to speak to the pastor or priest. I find it very helpful to talk to these wonderful people about any needs for myself or the community. My brother is a Methodist pastor and knows every person in his congregation who will help with just about any situation. You don't have to be a member of his church. Give it a try.

Have you decided to hire a pro? Try Amazon Home Services.

Senior Center Helpful in Finding a Handyman

She should call the Senior Center nearby. There are usually retired handymen who would gladly give a lady help for a small hourly fee. And, both people feel good about this.
Grandma Joan

Two Creative Ways of Finding a Handyman

I have two suggestions for the single woman who needs help around the house:

  1. Community Service Requirements - Many high schools now have community service requirements. Call around and find out if they can send some students to help you. Perhaps ask for one girl and one boy. You might feel safer, and you will get a nice combination of skills and abilities. If the high school requires all community service to go through an official nonprofit organization, call a local community service organization, charity, or church and ask if they will sign off on it.
  2. Barter - For light work, offer to cook dinner or even load up a single guy's freezer with meals. If meals aren't your bent, but you sew or have other light services to barter, offer those. You can make a party out of it. Ask your new neighbors over for a fix-up and BBQ. You supply the supplies and the burgers; they supply the muscle and the tools.


Busy Realtor May Be Able to Help

Contact a Realtor® who does a lot of business. Busy agents have a list of craftspeople they call upon to help them get homes ready to sell, including handymen, electricians, plumbers, roofers and painters. A wise agent may give you a referral, hoping you'll remember the favor if you ever need help buying or selling a home.

Take the Next Step:

  • Home improvements can be costly. For many projects, we can help you save. Just visit the Home Improvement section of the Dollar Stretcher Library before you start that next project.
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