There's no national standard or regulation for handymen. Licensing and regulation vary by state. New Jersey, for example, requires handymen who work for a profit to register with the state and carry insurance. California requires handymen to carry a license from the State Contractors License Board to work on any project that exceeds $500 in labor and material costs. Find out before you hire the handyman if he or she has the skills needed to complete your project.

In theory, the cost of building-wide improvements should be less in a condo because it is spread out across dozens of residents, and the sheer scale of the project could lower the overall price. But it does not always work out that way. Condo board members are volunteers who may not be skilled negotiators or knowledgeable about construction. They may take the first bid they get, or agree to more work than is necessary. If complications increase the cost of the job, residents won’t necessarily know. “This is one of the potential downsides of a condo or co-op scheme,” said Eric D. Sherman, a real estate lawyer and partner in the New York office of Pryor Cashman. “Lots of the time, boards are under the gun. They’re not paid for their efforts, they take the first bid from the first contractor that they see and they say, ‘sign me up.’”
Tiny holes in shingles are sneaky because they can cause rot, a leaky roof and other damage for years before you notice the obvious signs of a leak. You might find holes left over from a satellite dish or antenna mounting brackets or just about anything. And exposed, misplaced roofing repair nails should be pulled and the holes patched. Small holes are simple to fix, but the fix isn’t to inject caulk in the hole. You’ll fix this leaky roof problem with flashing.

Even tasks that seem relatively small can add up. Consider the French doors that David Sievers, 53, and his wife, Ulin Sargeant, 47, installed two years ago to replace sliding glass doors on their two-bedroom house in Monrovia, Calif. The doors cost $2,000. But then they paid $1,700 for installation, $500 for a painter to restore the stucco and paint, and $1,600 for an engineering plan required by the city.
It is not uncommon for power switches and breakers to be accidentally turned off when other appliances are being installed. Homeowners are encouraged to check their circuit breaker to make sure the issue isn’t as simple as needing to turn a switch back on. A circuit breaker is typically located in the garage, although in some homes, the circuit breaker can be found in the basement, hallway or storage room.
When that happens, all you can do is pay up, as happened with Jason Hark and Kenneth Larivee. In 2016, the couple got hit with a $28,000 assessment to replace the siding on their West Orange, N.J. townhouse in a condo association. This cost came on top of their $610 monthly association fee. After speaking with siding companies, Mr. Hark estimated that if his unit had been a stand-alone property, the project would have cost closer to $7,500. “But we couldn’t fight it,” said Mr. Hark, a director at WCBS-TV.
How to DIY it: Turn it off by opening the disconnect box (typically located on the outside wall near the unit) and pulling out the disconnect block inside (above). Now take a good look at the unit. If the vents are caked with fuzz from dandelions or cottonwood trees, vacuum the vents. Then rinse the unit with a hose using moderate pressure (the flimsy fins might bend under strong pressure). As you spray, peer down into the unit. You should see water streaming through. If not, the fins are still clogged, so keep rinsing.
Even tasks that seem relatively small can add up. Consider the French doors that David Sievers, 53, and his wife, Ulin Sargeant, 47, installed two years ago to replace sliding glass doors on their two-bedroom house in Monrovia, Calif. The doors cost $2,000. But then they paid $1,700 for installation, $500 for a painter to restore the stucco and paint, and $1,600 for an engineering plan required by the city.

When that happens, all you can do is pay up, as happened with Jason Hark and Kenneth Larivee. In 2016, the couple got hit with a $28,000 assessment to replace the siding on their West Orange, N.J. townhouse in a condo association. This cost came on top of their $610 monthly association fee. After speaking with siding companies, Mr. Hark estimated that if his unit had been a stand-alone property, the project would have cost closer to $7,500. “But we couldn’t fight it,” said Mr. Hark, a director at WCBS-TV.

Need your garage door repaired? Odds are, once you account for materials, labor and unforeseen hiccups, you’ll be writing a check for a grand. Your sump pump died? A new one could cost you around $600 for parts and labor, which doesn’t seem so bad considering the alternative is a flooded basement. But then the plumber might discover that the pipe carrying the water from the house to the street is clogged with years’ of debris and needs to be flushed out. And maybe there’s a blockage somewhere. There you have it: $1,000.
When a home is sold, inspections are performed that may reveal environmental hazards such as radon gas in the basement or water supply or friable asbestos materials (both of which can cause lung cancer), peeling or disturbed lead paint (a risk to children and pregnant women), in-ground heating oil tanks that may contaminate ground water, or mold that can cause problems for those with asthma or allergies. Typically the buyer or mortgage lender will require these conditions to be repaired before allowing the purchase to close. An entire industry of environmental remediation contractors has developed to help home owners resolve these types of problems.
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