How to build your home repair expert crew


A home needs its support crew — tradespeople like plumbers, electricians, handymen and gutter cleaners willing to show up in an emergency, but also reliable enough to do the regular maintenance needed to prevent a disaster.

Finding reliable and seasoned professionals takes time and means keeping in touch with the ones you have so that your name lands at the top of their list when your furnace fails on a holiday weekend because, face it, things invariably go awry after business hours.

Here are some tips for building your crew:

A good plumber should top any homeowner’s list of go-to contractors. Water accounts for 45 percent of damage to homes, according to Chubb, a property and casualty insurance company, with plumbing failures cited as the top cause of non-weather-related water losses. “Water is your house’s worst enemy,” said Angie Hicks, a co-founder of Angie’s List. “So, having a plumber is imperative.”

Plumbers have different specialties, with some focusing on larger remodeling projects and others handling the everyday problems with water heaters, boilers, sump pumps and pipes. Most plumbers charge by the hour — usually between $45 and $200 — for ordinary tasks, according to HomeAdvisor.

Ask potential hires what they charge for emergency calls and how quickly they can respond on nights and weekends, because at some point you’re going to need one to come fast.

Where to look and what to ask

Friends and neighbors can be a valuable resource, particularly ones who have owned their homes for a long time. Connect with a wider network of neighbors through social media groups like Facebook and NextDoor. Ask pointed questions about how quickly the workers respond to calls, how well they clean up after they’re done and how they respond to mishaps.

Real estate brokers often have a long roster of tradespeople, so ask yours. The workers you hire can refer you to other professionals, too. If an electrician installs some recessed lights in your living room, for example, he may be able to suggest a painter to repair any damage done to the walls or ceiling.

Ask potential hires for references, proof of license and liability insurance. Find out how long the company has been in business, and if it offers warranties for the work. Get a sense of their personality and working style, as you want to develop a comfortable rapport with anyone who will be coming into your home.

Source: The New York Times