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Old 05-06-2012, 05:17 PM   #1
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Possibly starting a handy man service


I would like to start by saying I am not a master of all, but I can handle a a lot of different challenges.
Currently I professionally install auto glass, and we are not extremly busy. For a few weeks now I have been working 3-5 days a week. I will not be leaving my current position. I have found myself to have a lot more free time.This all started by helping out a few friends with some odds and ends projects. Then came the suggestion that I start my own handyman service, and I am considering it cause ideal hands are the devils play ground. I don't need to make a lot of money doing this, but some extra money never hurts. I really enjoy working with my hands and after years of working on cars I find houses enjoyable. I would want everything I do to be legal and on the up and up.

I Know I need to start with the following,
1 Make a business plan
2 get licensed and insured
3 Advertise

I can handle the business plan and looked into the license it doesn't seem to expensive. What I am worried about is the insurance and incorporating. Can I make this worth my time? Do I need to be certified to preform odds and ends? How much should I expect to pay for insurance? Are the licenses in Maryland yearly? Do i need different licenses to do plumbing repair and electrical repair? I know that there is going to be a break even point, and it will take hard work to get there. Any advice is appreciated, I know there are plenty of bushiness owners on this board.

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Old 05-06-2012, 07:17 PM   #2
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Possibly starting a handy man service


Wish you the best of luck.
There's so much more to it then just getting a licence.
I have over $20,000 worth of tools and still find some jobs needing things I do not have.
So things your going to need but have not mentioned, business cards, customers, word of mouth advertizing, customers, time to do paper work on taxes, incorperation fees, a nest egg for materials that you may or may not get paid for, time to set up accounts for materials.
Money for ink and paper to do quotes that you may or many not get.
Just haviing the know how to do glass work is not even close to what your going to need to know to do general Handi man work.
Painting, drywall and drywall repair, siding, framing, deck building, replacement windows, roof repairs all come under the heading of handy man.

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Old 05-06-2012, 07:37 PM   #3
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Possibly starting a handy man service


thanks joe,
In response I have a lot of tools (no where near you) and I would love to buy more. I acquired a lot of around the house tools after buying our foreclosure. Because it would be just me part time I would keep the jobs simple and small for a long time. I can get cards paper and ink easily. I have a few people that have been asking me for work, that I am hesitant to get involved with for legal reasons. We have a nest egg that I can use for materials. The accounts for buying materials is something I know nothing about for home improvement. Deck building, replacement windows, roof repairs, and siding are out of my skill set and I would not get involved. These are things I should learn but I haven't yet. Maybe this isn't for me. I have done complete bath and kitchen remodels in my own home. But there is always plenty more for me to learn. The one thing I know that I have is plenty of time. I am a firm beliver in conducting buisness legally and truthfully. If the break even point is to high for me than it is not worth it I can move on. I am making a comfortable living install auto glass. I am curious if I can treat this less like work and more like a hobby, do it legally, have fun, and not lose money.
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Old 05-06-2012, 07:46 PM   #4
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Off the top of my head the services I would be comfortable with would be lighting repairs, plumbing repairs, painting, mill work, basic appliance repair. Really just odds and ends, not looking to get involved in jobs that would take much more than a day to complete. To be able to treat a customer fairly I couldn't promise a completion date on a project that would take more than 10 hours.
I have no problem with anyone telling me this is a poor idea. If I can make this happen out of my house legally, and my overhead is not astronomical I will try. If I have to worry about breaking even every week it wont be fun.
I truly appreciate everything Joe took the time to write, Thank you Joe
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Old 05-06-2012, 10:18 PM   #5
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Possibly starting a handy man service


I have no idea what the regulations are in your state, however in Massachusetts you need to be a licensed electrician to perform electrical work on anything other than your own house, and a licensed plumber to perform plumbing work (even on your own house). Before advertising to perform those services, you need to verify that you are legally permitted to perform those services, and you need to understand the definition of electrical and plumbing services, i.e. is intalling a lightbulb electrical services? Presumably the place that issues the license to your business would be able to steer you in the right direction. There are probably a number of services you may be qualified to perform, but not legally permitted to perform.
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Old 05-06-2012, 10:43 PM   #6
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Possibly starting a handy man service


In the state of VA they have gone crazy on licences.
You have to have a state and a local business licence to do roofing, painting, handy man jobs. To get a licence you have to spend about $150.00 in books, a class that you have to pay for then take a test that you also have to pay for. 99% of the lowest avalible licence test is about book keeping, Taxes and writing quotes.
Then they restrict how much money you can make. So god forbid your company is making to much money.
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Old 05-07-2012, 08:26 AM   #7
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Thanks guys, you are both right. I looked into this more and to change a fixture (plumbing or lighting) it is a separate license. I also looked into how much a license and insurance costs here in Maryland. Just that would run me about 1900.00 a year. That is just scratching the surface on what annual costs would be but it is a start. It does not included being bonded (not sure I would need that), vehicle, clerical, advertising, tools, fuel, ect ect ect. It would be a fair amount of work to become legal. I have to really think about this, cause if I can't change a fixture or simple things like that, what am I really offering in the way of services.

Joe I think it is crazy that they limit how much your company can make in VA, it almost seems illegal and unconstitutional. I think I can handle the test, I do have a degree in business and have taken my share of accounting courses.

Daniel I can't believe you have to hire a licensed plumber in mass to work on your house if you want a new faucet, that seems like a racket. But I can understand the need for certifications and licensees to protect home owners. But I don't agree with being told what I can and can't do with my house. Oh well it is what it is.

I have to take a long hard look at some numbers and what I would legally offer. Maybe I should just enjoy my free time work on my house and play more golf. Thanks for all of your input, and I truly appreciate everyone refraining from negative answers. If you guys have any more advice on how I CAN make this work I am all ears.
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Old 05-07-2012, 08:46 AM   #8
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Possibly starting a handy man service


If you looking to just make some extra money try asking around and see if you could get a part time job helping out other contractors.
You would learn some skills, not have to do all the paper work, get to see what they have to go though in a day, make some customer contacts.
Any of the smaller companys could use an extra hand once in a while and do not want to hire someone full time.
I've made extra money just messing around with used camping trailers and boats.
I've had them given to me outright. I clean them up, change the tires or fix minor things and put them on Craigs list.
I've been lucky so far and made a profit everytime with little outlay of cash.
One ugly duckling I got was a 30' long old trailer that was built more like a mobil home then a camper, and someone had painted it to look like camo. The day I picked it up I put an ad on Craigs list with a picture and stated it would be perfect for a hunt club. All I did was change the toilet seat, before I could do anymore work someone showed up with 10, $100.00 bills and a 1, ton truck to haul it away.

Last edited by joecaption; 05-07-2012 at 08:57 AM.
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Old 05-07-2012, 09:13 AM   #9
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I have thought about that. The problem that I have is I wont know if I am working my full time job tomorrow until 5pmish today. A lot of employers do not care for this type of scheduling, and I am not sure that customers would care for it either. This is all new to me I have only been with this company for 4ish months and I love it. I am used to working 5 days a week, I don't know what to do with my extra free time. I have found playing on the internet or working on the house can be very expensive with to much free time. And I enjoy working with my hands. The only part time jobs I have been offered was to drive, and I hate driving around DC. I need to find something to do that I can enjoy.
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Old 05-07-2012, 04:43 PM   #10
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If you are in MD, you would also need a MHIC license above and beyond all the other ones you would need. Very expensive.

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