This article was updated on May 2, 2022
How to set your handyman labor rate in California:
8 Factors to consider
For some, home repair comes with a lot of headaches, questions, and bent nails. But you-the handyman-thrive in this environment and take on home improvement tasks with grace and gusto. But how do you know how much to charge as an experienced handyman?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that California, particularly Southern California, has one of the highest wage and employment levels for general maintenance and repair workers. The national average labor rate is around $60/hour, however, this may be as high as $120/hour for a specialty licensed handyman.
For the task at hand, you can put away your monkey wrenches, screwdrivers, and miter saws. Instead, follow along carefully to discover everything you need to know about how to price your services in a way that's both fair for your clients and profitable for you.
Table of Contents:
- Are you a handyman or licensed contractor?
- What are other professional handyman rates?
- What is the project type?
- Is a fixed or variable hourly rate right for you?
- Are you considering distance when pricing individual jobs?
- What are the material costs of your handyman project?
- Does your handyman business charge a minimum service fee?
- Are you using marketing to boost your handyman hourly wage?
1. Are you a handyman or licensed contractor?
Before we can dive into the details of the handyman price list, you'll first need to better understand what your job encompasses and how it may differ from other industry-adjacent titles. For example, whether you're able to market yourself as a handyman or as a general contractor will impact how high you can set your rates.
In short, a handyman is, as their name implies, a person skilled at making repairs. They're usually hired for small jobs, and although they are considered unlicensed "generalists," they typically specialize in a specific type of minor repair.
A licensed contractor, on the other hand, is a person who's licensed in a specific skill. Contractors typically cost more than handymen and are required by law for certain types of jobs. For instance, though a handyman may know the basics of electrical wiring, a contractor is likely more equipped to deal with electrical work.
If you fall into the category of handyman, you're in the right place. Here's how to start setting your rates.
2. What are other professional handyman rates?
Whether you've been fixing homes for years or are just starting up a new handyman business, you'll want to be sure you've structured your business in the right way, particularly when it comes to finances. While you might be able to repair a leaky faucet in your sleep, you might not be the best at nailing down a fair price for your services.
That's why it's helpful to stay on top of the average handyman prices within the industry. Currently, the average handyman rate in the United States is between $40-100 per hour, with the national average rate hovering around $60.
That said, several factors may cause typical hourly handyman rates to fluctuate. We've broken down these factors below.
3. What is the project type?
As you know, not all projects are created equally. While a window repair may take less than a day, a complex kitchen repair could take weeks. As a result, the amount you charge for your services largely depends on the type of job.
Start to outline your price list by organizing it based on the size of the job: small, medium, and large.
- Small jobs - Small jobs are projects that require minimal tools and time. These jobs include hanging a piece of art ($60-$125), replacing ceiling fans and light fixtures ($75), and replacing the garbage disposal ($75). On average, you can earn between $75-$150 for this kind of work.
- Medium jobs - More time-consuming than small jobs, medium jobs typically require the use of power tools. These types of jobs include replacing shower caulking ($100-$280) and replacing attic ladders ($150). On average, you can earn between $150-$300 for this kind of work.
- Large jobs - As their name implies, large jobs require more time and specialized equipment than small and medium jobs. This category of work can include room painting ($400-$1,000) and heavily-damaged drywall repair ($300-$800).
Regardless of the size of the job, it's always a good idea to prepare your customers with an estimated quote before proceeding with the project. This way, there'll be no surprise expenses for the client, and it allows them to ask any questions they might have before work gets underway. If you need some inspiration to model your business after, take a look at Mr. Handyman. This handyman service, based in Mooresville, NC, prides itself on charging the fairest price. They'll call you with an estimate before even stepping foot on your property.
The key takeaways? Cost transparency from start to finish and an easy, commitment-free way for your customers to evaluate if your services are a good fit for them.
4. Is a fixed or variable hourly rate right for you?
While some handymen choose to charge a flat hourly rate, others charge a variable hourly rate based on the job.
For instance, when considering the cost of drywall repair, two handymen may approach the same project from different pricing angles. The handyman who charges a set hourly rate will build a quote featuring their standard rate, regardless of the type of repair. The local handyman who charges a variable hourly rate, however, will provide a flat-rate quote regardless of how long it takes to complete the repair.
While the decision to charge a variable rate vs. a set hourly rate is ultimately up to the individual handyman, some think it's a straightforward decision to make:
"True, fixed-rate pricing can be a pain, since you have to plan for variables when quoting prices to clients," writes California-based handyman Leland Stone. "But the advantage is that you'll leave less money on the table when you're done."
5. Are you considering distance when pricing individual jobs?
When calculating a project's total cost, many handymen take into account the time and gas cost it'll take to reach the job. Decide on a radius that you're willing to service and whether or not you'll charge extra for jobs located outside of your service area. Some handymen charge a flat fee for any distance outside of the handyman's range, while others charge per mile.
If you'd prefer to keep things close to home, be sure to turn to Nextdoor. Geared towards small, hyperlocal businesses, Nextdoor allows you to connect with homeowners near your business. To tap into your neighborhood offerings, all you need to do is claim your Business Page. You can then get the most out of your local connections.
6. What are the material costs of your handyman project?
As stated above, a handyman job is typically categorized as small, medium, and large. While small jobs require less time and materials, medium and large jobs typically require more time and specialized tools. As a result, you'll need to factor in these additional material costs when setting your rates.
In general, any handyman service will include basic tools and materials, such as nails, screws, measuring tape, nuts and bolts, etc. If a particular project requires additional tools and materials, you'll have to purchase those materials yourself. In this case, you'll need to adjust your pricing to include the extra material costs as well as the time spent shopping.
Operating from South Weymouth, MA, Steve Mills Handyman Services is a small business that knows a thing or two about material costs. For Mills , the time spent purchasing materials factors into the project's overall cost: "My time spent shopping and delivering materials would be billed at my regular rate. Any materials I purchase would be billed at cost plus 10%."
7. Does your handyman business charge a minimum service fee?
To ensure they make a profit (or at least cover business expenses), many handymen charge a minimum service fee. This service fee usually takes the form of a minimum number of hours.
For instance, if a handyman charges by the hour, they may have a two-hour minimum requirement. That means that even if your project takes less than two hours of your time, you'll still be able to charge for two hours' worth of work. If you do plan to charge a minimum fee, be sure this is clearly communicated to the customer either on your website or on the quote you provide them.
To build a long-lasting relationship with your customers, consider working with them to ensure they receive the most cost-effective service: "I charge by the hour-normally $40 per hour, with a two-hour minimum," writes handyman Steve Mills. "Since no project is too small, I usually suggest that customers find another small job or two around the house to use up the minimum time left on really quick jobs."
8. Are you using marketing to boost your handyman hourly wage?
Aside from pricing your services appropriately, there's more you can do to be sure your skills are earning you a competitive salary. Build your audience and your bank account by:
- Encouraging word-of-mouth marketing - Get your neighborhood talking about your services by rewarding customers who leave a review on your website or social media page. Offer a discount to those who offer up a testimonial for your website or who refer your services to a friend in the area.
- Harnessing the power of social media - Earn new customers by posting regularly on your social media platform. Share before and after photos of a recent project or spread the word about a special promotion. Whatever content you choose to post, be sure it showcases your expertise while also providing value to your audience.
- Playing to your strengths - You're a handyman, of course, but if you're particularly handy with certain types of projects use those unique skills to your advantage. Carving out a niche for yourself, such as drywall small repair or bathroom plumbing, could be an avenue through which to earn more money.
Start earning more with Nextdoor
As a handyman, you have a unique skill set that deserves to be valued at the right price. Once you've outlined your budget and determined your rates, share them with your local community on Nextdoor.
Geared towards hyperlocal connections, Nextdoor enables you to find homeowners right in your area. On your Business Page, you'll be able to share everything from basic contact information and services to mission statements and customer reviews. That way, you can start building relationships and earning more with neighbors within your zip code.
Claim your free Business Page and start putting more money in your pocket with Nextdoor.
Bob Vila. Here's Exactly What You Can Expect to Pay a Handyman. https://www.bobvila.com/articles/handyman-costs/
Mr. Handyman. Request Handyman Service. https://www.mrhandyman.com/mooresville-nc/request-service/
Steve Mills Handyman Services. FAQs. http://stevemillshandyman.com/faqs.html
The Journal of Light Construction. Pricing Handyman Work. https://www.jlconline.com/business/pricing-handyman-work_o
Thumbtack. What is the average hourly rate for a handyman? https://www.thumbtack.com/p/handyman-prices
Bureau of Labor Statistics - Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes499071.html