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Licensed Handyman in Washington D.C., DC

How to Hire a Good Handyman in Washington D.C.

Handymen in Washington D.C. earn average hourly wages of $24.42, which is approximately 13% less than those of general contractors and at least 25% less than the hourly wages earned by trade professionals like electricians and plumbers. This makes them the perfect option for handling general repairs, installations, and maintenance in your home, as they not only save you the cost of hiring trade professionals to handle these small issues but also the time and effort of attempting to tackle them on your own. However, considering that home repair scams continually rank among the worst consumer complaints in Washington D.C, you should always take steps to ensure that you hire a legitimate handyman in the district by asking the following questions:

Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Handyman in Washington D.C.

  1. Are You Licensed to Practice as a Handyman in Washington D.C.?

    The first step toward ensuring the legitimacy of handymen in Washington D.C. is confirming that these individuals have been duly licensed by the district's Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA). Per the requirements of this agency, any individual that wishes to bid for or provide residential repair and remodeling services must first obtain a valid Home Improvement Contractor License before doing so.

    To obtain this license, interested handymen will have to meet certain criteria, which include:

    • Providing proof of local and federal tax registration with the DC Office of Tax and Revenue and the IRS respectively
    • Providing proof of insurance and bonding
    • Providing proof of registration with the DC Office of the Zoning Administrator in the form of either a Certificate of Occupancy or a Home Occupation Permit
    • Submitting a Police History Criminal Report
    • Paying a licensing fee
    • Meeting any additional business registration requirements or providing any relevant documentation that the DCRA may deem necessary at the time of the application

    Handymen that wish to apply for a home improvement contractor license from the DCRA may do so online via the district's DC Business Portal or in person at the DCRA office located at:

    • 1100 4th Street SW
    • 2nd Floor
    • Washington, DC 20024
    • Phone: (202) 442-4400
    • Hours: 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and 9:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. on Thursdays

    Inquiries concerning the handyman licensing process can be directed to the DCRA through the contact details provided above or via email. It is also in your best interest to always verify that your intended handyman possesses a valid DCRA-issued license before concluding any hiring arrangements with them. You can do this by contacting the department via phone number (202) 442-4400 or by utilizing its online Access DC portal. It should be noted that parties that wish to make use of this online option will be required to create a user account on the portal before doing so.

  2. How Much Do You Charge Compared to Handymen in Washington D.C.?

    Comparing cost estimates from several Washington D.C. handymen is a good way to avoid getting scammed by unscrupulous handymen in the district when looking to undertake home repairs and improvements. Note that the rates charged by handymen in the district are typically dependent on factors like:

    • The nature of the job
    • The actual length of time spent working on the job
    • The cost of fixtures and other similar materials that will be required for the job

    To this end, provide your potential handymen with the same parameters for the job and look out for submitted estimates that are significantly different from the others. In many cases, an unscrupulous handyman will either grossly overinflate their rates to bilk you or deliberately lower these rates to get you to hire them, and then turn around to increase the cost of the job after it commences. Nonetheless, request an explanation for any significant cost differences that you observe in the submitted estimates from the handyman in question, and be wary of any handyman that cannot provide you with a satisfactory answer.

    Washington D.C. handymen earn an average wage of $50,790, annually. The table below compares and contrasts the average hourly wages of handymen and other general maintenance and repair workers in Washington D.C. with those of workers in this industry across major American cities:

    Washington D.C. Handyman Average Hourly Wage
    $24.42
    Los Angeles Handyman Average Hourly Wage
    $23.74
    New York City Handyman Average Hourly Wage
    $25.73
    Seattle Handyman Average Hourly Wage
    $26.02
    Houston Handyman Average Hourly Wage
    $20.41
    Chicago Handyman Average Hourly Wage
    $24.56

    Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

  3. Do You Require a Permit to Complete This Work in Washington D.C.?

    In accordance with the stipulations of Section 12-A105 of the D.C. Municipal Regulations, a permit is required for work that involves the alteration, repair, enlargement, construction, demolition, and change in occupancy of buildings or structures in Washington D.C. Note that separate permits are typically required for work that involves the installation, repair, alteration, replacement, or conversion of electrical, plumbing, gas, and mechanical systems in these buildings and structures. However, this regulation makes exemptions for certain types of projects that are commonly undertaken by handymen, such as:

    • The installation of window screens and storm windows
    • Work involving papering, carpeting, floor covering, tiling, cabinets, countertops, and other similar finish work
    • Painting jobs that do not involve fire-retardant paint
    • In-kind replacement of siding, patios, roofing, private sidewalks, gutters, and non-rated suspended ceiling tiles
    • The repair of portable electrical equipment and lighting fixtures
    • The repair or replacement of ballasts, sockets, receptacles, and snap switches
    • Same location replacements of branch circuit overcurrent devices of the required capacity
    • Work involving portable HVAC, cooking, or drying appliances
    • Clearing stoppages and repairing leaks in pipes, valves, and fixtures, as well as removing and reinstalling water closets, provided that the work does not involve or require any vales, pipes, or fixtures to be replaced or rearranged

    The Washington D.C. permit issuing process is handled by the district's Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA). Parties that wish to obtain permits from this department for home repair and improvement work that is not permit-exempted may do so by taking the following steps:

    • Determining the nature of the scope of the work
    • Contacting the DC Office of Zoning, either by calling (202) 727-6311 or online to find out whether any development restrictions apply to their property
    • Completing and submitting a permit application online via the DCRA's online Permit Wizard Portal. The creation of a user account is typically required for this step. Also, depending on the scope of the project, the submission of additional documentation like building plans may be required for review and screening by the DCRA. This additional documentation can be uploaded online via the department's ProjectDox portal

    Once these steps have been completed, all submitted documents will be screened and reviewed by the DCRA, following which the permit application will either be approved or applicants will be required to make relevant changes to the application and resubmit it. Applicants that have their permit applications approved will be required to pay a stipulated permit fee before the permit can be issued. Also, after the work for which a permit has been issued commences, the DCRA typically conducts inspections of this work at various stages, particularly before any part of the work is covered or concealed. These inspections are conducted to ensure that it is being done in compliance with the district's Construction Codes, and they generally have to be scheduled by the individual that pulls the permit.

    You can get additional information or make inquiries concerning the DCRA's permitting and inspection process by contacting the department via email, by calling phone numbers (202) 442-4400 and (202) 442-8959, or in person at:

    • 1100 4th Street SW
    • Washington, DC 20024
    • Hours: 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., Mondays - Wednesdays, Fridays, and 9:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. on Thursdays
  4. What Works Can You Do Legally as a Handyman in Washington D.C.?

    Handymen in Washington D.C. can legally perform repair and remodeling work on any residential property in the district provided that they possess a valid Home Improvement Contractor License issued by the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA). Note that handymen that wish to perform work on commercial property will be required to obtain a General Contractor/Construction Manager License, also issued by the DCRA. Likewise, work that involves the installation, alteration, or repair of electrical, plumbing, gas, and mechanical systems typically also requires a separate DCRA-issued Industrial Trade License. Handymen that provide services outside the scope of their Home Improvement Contractor License can be charged with committing a Class 1 Infraction, which carries a minimum penalty of $2,000 in fines for first-time offenders.

    It is always in your best interest to hire handymen that are not only licensed but also adequately experienced and equipped to provide your required home repair or improvement service. Doing this provides you with a measure of confidence that the job will be done properly the first time out. You can determine a handyman's level of experience by requesting references from them and contacting these past clients to get their opinions on the handyman. In addition, you should always find out exactly how much you will be charged for the handyman's services and agree on these costs before any work begins. Cost estimates for common Washington D.C. handyman services are provided below:

    Artwork hanging
    $75 - $150
    Awning repair
    $100 - $600
    Cabinet repair
    $75 - $540
    Cabinet refinishing
    $550 - $2,500
    Drain unclogging
    $85 - $190
    Driveway sealing
    $70 - $250
    Drywall repair
    $80 - $500
    Electrical appliance installation
    $100 - $350
    Faulty fixture repair/replacement
    $80 - $300
    Gutter cleaning
    $100 - $300
    Home childproofing
    $150 - $400
    Lawn care/landscaping maintenance
    $50 - $400
    Patio/deck painting
    $120 - $650
    Room painting
    $200 - $650
    Snow removal
    $75 - $300
    TV mounting
    $70 - $200
    Residential handyman services
    $77 - $133 per hour (labor only)
    Commercial handyman services
    $83 - $129.50 per hour (labor only)
  5. Do You Carry the Necessary Insurance Policy for Handymen in Washington D.C.?

    The insurance and bonding status of your intended handyman is an important criterion to look out for when determining the legitimacy of this individual. Handymen in Washington D.C. are required to meet certain insurance and bonding requirements before they can be duly licensed by the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) to operate in the district. These requirements are:

    • Maintaining liability insurance with a minimum limit of $50,000 for bodily injury or death for any one individual in any single accident, $100,000 in aggregate for more than one individual in a single accident, and $10,000 for property damage in any single accident
    • Posting a surety bond of $25,000 for the two-year validity period of their contractor licenses

    Always confirm the current insurance and bonding status of any handyman in Washington D.C. that you intend to hire. Failure to do this can expose you to financial and legal liabilities that typically arise in situations where bodily injury or property damage occurs during home repair and improvement jobs. In these types of situations, you will have to cover the costs of these incidents if your handyman does not possess a current insurance plan or an active surety bond. You can confirm your intended handyman's insurance and bonding status by requesting copies of their insurance and bond certificates and contacting the issuing organizations to validate these documents. You can also get additional information on the mandatory insurance and bonding requirements for handymen that wish to operate in Washington D.C. by contacting the DCRA at (202) 442-4400.

How to File a Complaint Against a Bad Handyman in Washington D.C.

In May 2019, the Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia announced that it had secured a $224,000 judgment against a home improvement contractor that had provided illegal and incomplete services to consumers across the district, many of whom were seniors. According to a report by the Consumer Federation of America, home repair and improvement scams are the second-most-common types of scams that occur in Washington D.C., and a majority of these scams are targeted at senior residents of the district. Some common tactics used by fraudulent handymen that carry out these scams include:

  • Offering low prices for their services and then increasing the cost of the project once work commences or charging way above market price for their services by claiming to provide specialized services for the homeowner
  • Utilizing high-pressure tactics and misrepresenting the urgency of a needed home repair job to get the homeowner to hire them
  • Downplaying the need for written contracts and overplaying the value that their services will provide to the homeowner
  • Including hidden charges and confusing clauses in their contracts

To this end, when searching for legitimate handymen in Washington D.C., you should always take the following steps before finalizing arrangements with your preferred professional to ensure that you do not fall victim to a scam:

  • Avoid individuals that go door-to-door offering home repair and improvement services. Always get referrals to handymen in the district from trusted friends and family or via online resources like the Better Business Bureau website and the Find a Contractor platform provided by the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA)
  • Get and compare estimates for your project from several handymen
  • Always verify the licensing status of your intended handyman with the DCRA, either online or by calling (202) 442-4400
  • Always confirm the handyman's insurance and bonding status
  • Request references from the handyman and contact them. Be wary of any handyman that cannot provide you with at least three verifiable references, or is hesitant to do so
  • Insist on getting a written contract for the job and make sure that you properly review this contract before signing it
  • Avoid cash payments and never pay the full cost of the job before it starts. If your handyman requests an advance payment, never pay more than 30% of the total value of the project, and make sure that the job is satisfactorily completed before paying the balance

Complaints concerning the fraudulent activities of handymen in the district can also be submitted to the DCRA by submitting a consumer protection request online. You can also report suspected or confirmed handyman scams to the Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia by completing and submitting an online complaint form or by calling (202) 442-9828. Complaints can also be made to this office via email or by texting the word œcomplaint to (202) 738-5212 and following the guided prompts.