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Licensed Handyman in New York City, NY

How to Hire a Good Handyman in New York City

Retaining the services of a handyman in New York City is a cost-effective way to solve household problems in your home. These professionals earn an average of $24.50 per hour for their services, which is approximately 30 percent less than the hourly wages earned by general contractors in the city. In addition, hiring a handyman also protects you from DIY accidents, ultimately saving you from the costs of treating any injuries that may occur as a result of these accidents. However, to ensure that you receive high-quality service and also avoid falling victim to a scam, you should always ask the following questions when hiring handymen in New York City:

Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Handyman in New York City

  1. Are You Licensed to Practice as a Handyman in New York City?

    Per the requirements of Subchapter 22 of The New York City Administrative Code, any individual or business that wishes to carry out repair or improvement activities on residential land and buildings in NYC must possess a valid Home Improvement Contractor License. However, this law makes exemptions for home improvement activities that cost less than $200. Note that performing home improvement work worth $200 or more in NYC without possessing a valid contractor license can lead to a fine of $500 per offense as well as other city-imposed civil and criminal penalties.

    Home improvement contractor licenses are issued by the NYC Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP), and they can be obtained either online or in-person at any of the following locations:

    • DCWP Licensing Center
    • 42 Broadway
    • Lobby
    • New York, NY 10004
    • NYC Small Business Support Center
    • 90-27 Sutphin Boulevard
    • 4th Floor
    • Jamaica, NY 11435

    In-person applicants will be required to schedule an appointment via email or phone number (212) 436-0441 before visiting the above-mentioned offices. Certain eligibility requirements must also be met by applicants that wish to obtain a home improvement contractor license. These include passing a licensing examination, submitting proof of insurance coverage, paying licensing fees, and providing any additional documentation that the DCWP may require at the time of the application.

    It should be noted that handymen that wish to provide specialty services such as electrical or plumbing installation and repair work may be required to obtain a separate Skilled Trade License from the NYC Department of Buildings. Likewise, in addition to obtaining contractor and skilled trade licenses, handymen in NYC are also typically expected to complete other business-related requirements before they can operate in the city. These requirements include obtaining a Certificate of Assumed Name/Business Certificate from the Office of the County Clerk in the borough or boroughs they intend to operate from and registering for a Sales Tax Certificate of Authority at the state level with the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance.

    You can make inquiries concerning the occupational and business licensing and registration requirements for New York City handymen by contacting the city's DCWP at 311 or (212) 639-9675. Finally, you should always confirm that any handyman you intend to hire in NYC possesses a valid home improvement contractor license. This can be done via the Online Services Portal that the DCWP provides and maintains for this purpose.

  2. How Much Do You Charge Compared to Handymen in New York City?

    Comparing the hourly rates of several handymen near you is a good way to ensure that you end up retaining the services of a legit handyman. Several factors affect the cost of hiring handymen in New York City, and you should always take these into consideration when contemplating the cost of your home repair. Some of these factors include:

    • The urgency of the situation
    • The specific nature of the job
    • The types of tools needed for the job
    • The types and cost of materials required
    • The amount of labor required to get the job done
    • Your specific location within the city

    Request quotes for your home repair or improvement job from at least three handymen around your area of residence and look out for any quotes that significantly differ from the others. This is usually a sign of fraudulent behavior on the part of the handyman, either through overcharging or by offering low bids to get you to hire them. Either way, consider this a red flag and strongly consider striking the handyman with the differing quote off your list of potential hires.

    New York City handymen earn an average wage of $50,950, annually. The table below compares and contrasts the average hourly wages of handymen and other general maintenance and repair workers in New York City with those of workers in this industry across New York State and major American cities:

    New York City Handyman Average Hourly Wage
    $24.50
    New York State Handyman Average Hourly Wage
    $23.55
    Los Angeles Handyman Average Hourly Wage
    $23.74
    Chicago Handyman Average Hourly Wage
    $23.38
    Houston Handyman Average Hourly Wage
    $20.96
    Philadelphia Handyman Average Hourly Wage
    $22.62
    Phoenix Handyman Average Hourly Wage
    $20.64

    Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

  3. Do You Require a Permit to Complete This Work in New York City?

    The NYC Department of Buildings (DOB) oversees building and construction-related activities that occur within New York City, and permits issued by this department are typically required before these types of activities can take place. Nonetheless, exemptions may be made for minor alteration and ordinary repair works, which include, but are not limited to, painting, plastering, cabinet installations, floor resurfacings, non-structural roof repairs, and plumbing fixture replacements.

    Permits for works that do not qualify for exemptions can be obtained from the DOB online through its DOB Now: Build platform. The specific type of permit that will be required depends on the nature of the repair job, and resources for applying for these permits are also provided online via the aforementioned platform. Note that permit applicants may be required to provide proof of a valid DCWP-issued Home Improvement Contractor License and submit other forms and documents relevant to the nature of the repair, alteration, or improvement work. The DOB is also authorized to carry out inspections of permitted works at various stages, as well as at the conclusion of the work, to ensure compliance with all applicable NYC Construction Codes.

    You can confirm whether or not your home repair or improvement project requires a permit, and also make additional inquiries concerning the DOB's permitting process, by calling (212) 566-5000. Inquiries can also be made by reaching out to the local NYC DOB Office in your borough of residence via the contact information provided below:

    • Bronx Borough Office
    • 1932 Arthur Avenue
    • 5th Floor
    • Bronx, NY 10457
    • Phone: (718) 960-4710
    • Brooklyn Borough Office
    • 210 Joralemon Street
    • 8th Floor
    • Brooklyn, NY 11201
    • Phone: (718) 802-3675
    • Manhattan Borough Office
    • 280 Broadway
    • 3rd Floor
    • New York, NY 10007
    • Phone: (212) 393-2614
    • Queens Borough Office
    • 120-55 Queens Boulevard
    • Kew Gardens, NY 11424
    • Phone: (718) 286-7620
    • Staten Island Borough Office
    • Borough Hall
    • 10 Richmond Terrace
    • 2nd Floor
    • Staten Island, NY 10301
    • Phone: (718) 420-5400
  4. What Works Can You Do Legally as a Handyman in New York City?

    Handymen in New York City can legally perform any type of repair, remodeling, alteration, construction, or home improvement work on existing residential property in the city. However, these professionals must possess a Home Improvement Contractor License issued by the city's Department of Consumer and Worker Protection before they can perform jobs worth $200 and above. Note that handymen that wish to perform work on new buildings or commercial property must register as general contractors with the NYC Department of Buildings or obtain a skilled trade license from this department for specialty areas like electrical and plumbing work.

    Nonetheless, it is always a good idea to hire a handyman that possesses a valid contractor license, regardless of the cost of the home improvement or repair work. This licensing provides you with a measure of confidence that the handyman has the necessary experience to either satisfactorily perform the job or recognize when the situation requires the attention of a specialized skilled trade professional. In addition, you should get a clear idea of how much the handyman's services would cost you before finalizing any arrangements with them to avoid any financial disagreements after the job has been concluded. Cost estimates for some services commonly offered by handymen in NYC are listed below:

    Artwork hanging
    $55 - $165
    Cabinet repair
    $80 - $500
    Drain unclogging
    $75 - $160
    Driveway sealing
    $85 - $250
    Drywall repair
    $100 - $500
    Electrical appliance installation
    $140 - $200
    Faulty fixture repair/replacement
    $75 - $335
    Gutter cleaning
    $100 - $380
    Home childproofing
    $160 - $450
    Lawn care/landscaping maintenance
    $70 - $400
    Patio/deck painting
    $220 - $550
    Snow removal
    $75 - $300
    TV mounting
    $75 - $270
    Residential handyman services
    $76 - $94.50 per hour (labor only)
    Commercial handyman services
    $85 - $101 per hour (labor only)
  5. Do You Carry the Necessary Insurance Policy for Handymen in New York City?

    Finding out the insurance status of your intended NYC handyman is a necessary step to take when searching for legit handymen in the city. Figures released by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics suggest that more than six percent of the fatal on-the-job injuries that occurred in New York City in 2020 were recorded amongst installation, maintenance, and repair workers. Choosing a handyman that is properly insured insulates you from any liabilities that may arise due to these on-the-job injuries, as well as other work-related deleterious events, such as damage to your property.

    Handymen in NYC typically have to provide proof of compliance with state-level workers' compensation insurance coverage requirements before they can obtain locally-issued Home Improvement Contractor licenses. These professionals may also have to meet certain project-specific locally-mandated general liability insurance requirements, such as maintaining a minimum coverage of $1,000,000 per occurrence, before they can pull permits from the city's Department of Buildings. You can contact the NYC Department of Buildings at (212) 566-5000 to get details on the specific insurance requirements that apply to your home improvement or repair work. Handyman insurance-related inquiries can also be directed to the city's Department of Consumer and Worker Protection at 311 and (212) 639-9675.

    Note that you should always hire insured handymen in NYC, regardless of whether or not these professionals have to meet any mandatory insurance requirements. To this end, always request proof of insurance from your intended handyman and validate this proof with the necessary insurance provider. Make sure that the insurance is adequate enough to cover both handyman and third-party accidents and injuries as well as any handyman-caused property damages that may occur during the course of your home repair or improvement work.

How to File a Complaint Against a Bad Handyman in New York City

In November 2021, local NYC news platform The City reported that over a dozen homeowners across the city had been defrauded by a contractor that had received insurance payouts for residential repairs but failed to perform the necessary work. According to the New York Attorney General's Office, home repair and improvement-related scams are one of the most common complaints made by consumers in New York, with over 1000 complaints on these matters made to this office in 2021 alone. To this end, you should always look out for signs of a scam when dealing with handymen in NYC. Some of these signs include:

  • The handyman knocks on your door or calls you unsolicited offering to make home repairs
  • The handyman utilizes high-pressure tactics to get you to make repairs immediately
  • The handyman offers you a discounted price if you can refer other clients to them immediately
  • The handyman claims to have been "In the neighborhood" and has extra materials left over from another job that can be used for you at cheap rates
  • The handyman does not have a verifiable local business address

The following tips can help you avoid scams when hiring handymen in NYC:

  • Get referrals to reputable handymen in the city, either from trusted friends, relatives, and colleagues or via online platforms like the Better Business Bureau
  • Always hire licensed handymen. You can confirm that your intended handyman possesses a valid home improvement contractor license via the DCWP's Online Services Portal
  • Get and compare written quotes for your home repair or improvement job from up to three different handymen in the city before making your hiring decision
  • Request at least three references from any handyman that you intend to hire and contact these references to get their reviews and testimonials on the handyman's capabilities. You can also lookup reviews on your intended handyman online
  • Make sure that you are given a written contract for the job that clearly indicates the specifics of the project. Also, take the time to read and understand any documents that you are given before signing them
  • Make sure that your handyman is adequately insured
  • Confirm that the handyman pulls any permits that may be required for the job before beginning the work
  • Be wary of handymen that insist on full upfront payment. Never pay more than 10 - 25 percent of the total value of your repair or improvement job upfront and make sure that the job is properly completed before paying the balance
  • Avoid cash transactions

Complaints concerning handyman and contractor-related scams in New York City can be filed with the city's Department of Consumer and Worker Protection online, by calling 311, or by mailing two copies of a completed consumer complaint form to:

  • NYC Department of Consumer and Worker Protection
  • Consumer Services Division
  • 42 Broadway
  • 9th Floor
  • New York, NY 10004

Consumer complaints can also be filed with the New York State Attorney General's Office online, by contacting its New York City office at (212) 416-8300, or by mailing a pdf complaint form to this location at:

  • Bureau of Consumer Frauds and Protection
  • 28 Liberty Street
  • New York, NY 10005

Finally, depending on the outcome of the complaint filing process with any of these aforementioned agencies, you can seek damages or other forms of compensation against the handyman involved in your complaint by filing a lawsuit at a New York City Court. Note that you should always get legal advice from a licensed attorney before taking this step. You can get referrals to licensed attorneys in NYC by contacting the New York City Bar's Legal Referral Service either via phone number (212) 626-7373 or online.