Dear New Frugal You,
you help me? I'm a single woman and live alone in my own home. I've learned how
to do some minor repairs (thanks YouTube videos!) but there are still some
things like electrical and plumbing repairs that I'd like to have a pro do.
Here's my problem. How do I know who I can trust? Not only to do the job
properly, but also not to rob me or put my safety at risk? -- Jordan
right. Being frugal doesn't always mean doing the job yourself. Nor does it
mean always choosing the lowest price. Quality of work and your safety should
also be a consideration.
how can you find someone who's reliable, reasonable and safe to allow into your
home? Let's see if we can't find a way to make that do-it-yourself project a
by trying to determine how difficult the project is. Your answer will help you
decide how professional your help needs to be.
repairs don't require professional training or specialized tools. If you've
done it once, you can do it again. But other jobs really require someone who
solves those problems daily. So gear your search appropriately.
obvious, but start by letting your friends know that you're looking for help
with an electrical project. Often that's all you'll need to do.
possible that one of those friends is an avid do-it-yourselfer who might know
more about your particular problem. That person may even be willing to help you with the
project or do it for you. You could choose to pay them or barter something that
you could do for them.
you don't find appropriate help from friends and family, you'll need to reach
outside your circle. Look
for safe places for referrals. For instance, try churches or synagogues, or local
check with your local senior center. Often they'll know of a retired pro who
still does a little side work or will have a list of people that they feel
any local trade schools or technical institutes. Speak with an instructor. The school may have students who could do the work for you, or an instructor who may moonlight.
Real estate agents
are another good source for referrals. They deal with a lot of homeowners who
need to have work done -- work that must be done well, reasonably and on time.
Most will have a list of "go to" repair people they call.
popular online resource is angieslist.com, whose core is reviews of service people from customers.
It is a subscription service, so you will need to pay for membership.
you've identified a prospect or two, use the Web to check them out before
hiring anyone. Many counties have sites that list any open lawsuits and
judgments. Obviously you don't want to find your potential pro on the list.
couple of other thoughts to reduce the cost of home repairs. Don't put off
important repairs in an effort to save money. Some repairs, such as roof or
plumbing leaks, can do a lot of damage if left undone. Spend $100 today to
avoid spending $1,000 next month.
think beyond your present project. For instance, if you hire a plumber for one
toilet repair, have them check out your other bathroom, too. You may pay them
for an extra half or full hour. But you could avoid having a larger problem
later. And never pay upfront for any project until the work is completed to your satisfaction. That way, you can sidestep any ugly situations where your hired help takes the money and runs before any work is done.
Jordan, congratulations on being willing to
tackle some home repair projects yourself. And, also for being wise enough to
know that not every repair is for the do-it-yourselfer. Some require a little
See related: Finding a handyman, Doing it yourselv vs. hiring a pro
Meet CreditCards.com's reader Q&A experts
Does a personal finance problem have you worried? Monday through Saturday, CreditCards.com's Q&A experts answer questions from readers. Ask a question, or click on any expert to see their previous answers.