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Licensed Handyman in Philadelphia, PA

How to Hire a Good Handyman in Philadelphia

Handymen in the City of Philadelphia earn an average hourly wage of $22.62, which is 25% less than what general contractors charge in the city. While hiring a local Philadelphia handyman for some home improvement work is tempting, it is best not to hire just any handyman to avoid falling victim to a home improvement scam. There are several tips that you can use to ensure that the person you hire is legitimate:

Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Handyman in the City of Philadelphia

  1. Are You Licensed to Practice as a Handyman in the City of Philadelphia

    In the City of Philadelphia, handymen do not need a Philadelphia contractor license to carry out home improvement services. However, per state law, handymen must register with the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General as home improvement contractors. To register, individuals must complete an online application or submit an application form to the mail address indicated on the form. Applicants submitting a paper application form can utilize the online resources provided by the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General as guidance. For further inquiries regarding the registration process, you can contact the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General at (888) 520-6680.

    Handymen wishing to run a business in Philadelphia must register a business with the Philadelphia Department of Business and Self Employment. The applicants will need to register their desired business structure online via the city's business service portal. Handymen must also get an Employer's Identification Number (EIN) through the Internal Revenue Services. All business owners must register for a city tax account irrespective of the business structure. Registration can be completed online via the Philadelphia Tax Center or by completing a business tax account application form and sending it via mail to:

    • Philadelphia Department of Revenue
    • P.O. Box 1600
    • Philadelphia, PA 19105-1600

    Alternatively, applicants can submit the completed form In person at

    • Municipal Services Building
    • Concourse Level
    • 1401 John F. Kennedy Boulevard
    • Philadelphia, PA 19102

    In addition, businesses in Philadelphia must apply for a Commercial Activity License (CAL) from the Philadelphia Department of Licenses and Inspections. The applicant must possess a City business tax account number to apply for CAL online. All businesses operating in the city must also register with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania online via the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue. If you have any questions regarding the registration of businesses in Philadelphia, you can contact the Philadelphia Department of Business and Self Employment at 311.

  2. How Much Do You Charge Compared to Handymen in the City of Philadelphia?

  3. The cost of hiring a skilled and experienced Philadelphia-based handyman is usually influenced by various factors. These include the type of job that the handyman will perform, the materials they will need, and how labor-intensive the job will be. Getting multiple quotes from different handymen in your area is a good way to get a general idea of the charges they will likely charge you. This is also a good way to avoid getting into a situation where you end up hiring a handyman who overcharges.

    Philadelphia handymen earn an average wage of $47,050 annually. The table below compares and contrasts the average hourly wages of handymen and other general maintenance and repair workers in Philadelphia with those of workers in this industry across the State of Pennsylvania and major American cities:

    Philadelphia Handyman Average Hourly Wage
    $22.62
    Pennsylvania Handyman Average Hourly Wage
    $20.91
    San Diego Handyman Average Hourly Wage
    $22.57
    New York City Handyman Average Hourly Wage
    $24.50
    Phoenix Handyman Average Hourly Wage
    $21.54
    Houston Handyman Average Hourly Wage
    $20.96
    Chicago Handyman Average Hourly Wage
    $23.38

    Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

  4. Do You Require a Permit to Complete This Work in the City of Philadelphia?

    Your responsibility as a homeowner is to make sure that the handyman hired to perform the repairs on your home applies for all necessary building and construction permits. Typically, before a home repair or construction project can be carried out in the City of Philadelphia, it requires permits issued by the city's Department of Licenses and Inspections (DLI). If your hired handyman is carrying out any of the following home repair work, you need to apply for a permit. These include:

    • Interior, non-structural alterations in single-family residences
    • Limited commercial alterations
    • Demolition of interior walls that are not load-bearing
    • Residential decks up to 216 sq. ft. (excluding roof decks)
    • Exterior window and door replacement with no change in size
    • Masonry facade replacement (not applicable for historic properties)
    • Above-ground pools and spas
    • Roof covering replacement
    • Security gates and grilles
    • Wallcovering replacement
    • Retaining walls

    These types of permits do not require submitting plans, making these repair work types eligible for an EZ permit. Applicants can complete the EZ permit application online using eCLIPSE. Applicants who need assistance when filing the application form online can schedule a virtual appointment with DLI. Alternatively, you can bring the relevant EZ permits application form in person to the Permit and License Center of DLI after booking an appointment at:

    • Permit and License Center
    • 1401 John F. Kennedy Boulevard.
    • MSB, Public Service Concourse
    • Philadelphia, PA 19102
    • Office hours: 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Monday through Friday

    To complete the permit application submission, applicants have to pay submission fees and meet other requirements before the required permit can be issued. Upon due review and approval of the permit by DLI, the applicants will be issued a permit. Once the handyman is ready to commence work, they must request an inspection through eCLIPSE or call (215) 255-4040. After all required inspections, DLI will issue a certificate of approval. For more information regarding the city's permitting and inspection process, you can submit an online request to 311 or call 311. If you are calling from outside Philadelphia, call (215) 686-8686.

  5. What Works Can You Do Legally as a Handyman in the City of Philadelphia?

    In Philadelphia, home maintenance and repair tasks are typically handled by handymen who do not require occupational licensing. They carry out basic home repairs, such as replacing or repairing faulty electrical equipment, patching holes in the wall, and painting decks and walls. However, handymen who wish to carry out contractor, plumbing, HVAC, and electrical work in the city must first obtain a trade license from the Philadelphia Department of Licenses and Inspections.

    Notwithstanding that your handymen do not require occupational licensing, make sure you confirm they have been duly registered with the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General. In addition, confirm if their business has been duly registered with the city before offering their services to you. It is also good to verify that your intended handyman has the requisite skills and experience to handle the repair work properly. One of the advantages of working with a professional is that they can help you identify tasks that require specialized skills.

    It is important for you to inquire from your handyman how much they charge for their services before commencing work in your home. Listed below are cost estimates for some of the services that handymen in the City of Philadelphia offer:

    Artwork hanging
    $50 - $120
    Cabinet repair
    $162 - $252 per cabinet material
    Drain unclogging
    $45 - $165 per hour
    Driveway sealing
    $100 - $250
    Drywall repair
    $130 - $440
    Electrical appliance installation
    $132 - $180
    Faulty fixture repair/replacement
    $65 - $131
    Gutter cleaning
    $90 to $270
    Home childproofing
    $80 - $403
    Lawn care/landscaping maintenance
    $72 - $103
    Patio/deck painting
    $200 - $604
    Snow removal
    $35 - $400
    TV mounting
    $50 - $160
    Residential handyman services
    $54 - $72 plus parts and materials
    Commercial handyman services
    $66 - $83 plus materials
  6. Do You Carry the Necessary Insurance Policy for Handymen in the City of Philadelphia?

    Hiring a Handyman with proper insurance for your home repair work is very important. It can protect you from potential legal liability should something go wrong while they are working on your home. This includes injury to the handyman or damage to your property due to the actions of the home repair professional. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2020, over 70 workers died while performing general maintenance and repair work, and 23,400 sustained work-related injuries in the United States, including Philadelphia, in 2020 alone.

    Even though Philadelphia does not require general liability insurance for handymen, it is still important that they carry this coverage to prevent you from paying out of pocket when there is a loss. It is always good to ask for proof of this insurance before hiring a skilled professional to handle any work. Make sure you confirm the authenticity of the certificates with the issuing insurance provider. Per state law, it is required that all handymen carry workers' compensation insurance for their employees. If your skilled professional works with an apprentice, you should also ask for proof of this insurance. You can get details about the workers' compensation requirements in Philadelphia by contacting the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry at (717) 787-5279 or submitting an online inquiry.

How to File a Complaint Against a Bad Handyman in the City of Philadelphia

In February 2019, the Pennsylvania Attorney General sued Westmoreland County-based contractor and two associated businesses, Pa Remodelers LLP and Bathmakeover Pro LLC. The allegations included defrauding consumers by performing partial and shoddy work and abandoning the projects after receiving payment. For instance, the contractors entered into a home improvement contract with a client and collected $17,000, but they left the work undone and caused further damage to the house.

There are a number of factors that you should consider when looking for a home repair professional in Philadelphia to avoid getting lured into a home repair scam. These scams usually involve deceptive handymen who bid for work that they are not qualified to perform. They then abscond after collecting payment for the job. Before hiring a home repair professional in Philadelphia, you can take the following precautionary steps to make sure that the handyman is legitimate:

  • Be wary of dealing with unsolicited individuals who knock on your door and offer cheap home repair services.
  • Before hiring a handyman, do your due diligence on them. This can be done by going through third-party review websites to read reviews and testimonials on various websites like Better Business Bureau, Yelp, or Google Review.
  • Request for references of past clients from your intended handyman to ensure that they are professional. Doing so can help avoid getting lured into a home repair scam.
  • Gather at least three estimates from various contractors before starting a home repair project. These estimates will help you determine the best value for your project.
  • Execute a written contract that stipulates the obligations of the handyman, including start date, materials to be used, cost of these materials, and expected date of completion. Before signing any contracts, make sure that you read the documents carefully. Never sign any contracts that have ambiguous clauses or terms.
  • Verify the handyman's insurance status and if they have employees, confirm they are carrying worker's compensation.
  • Be wary of individuals who insist on a complete upfront payment for the work. If you have to pay upfront, do not pay more than 10% of the total fee and only complete payment after certifying the work satisfactory.

The Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General, through its Consumer Protection Bureau, handles consumer complaints relating to deceptive business practices, including home repair scams in Philadelphia. If a handyman has scammed you, you can file a complaint with the Attorney General's Office by completing an online complaint form. Alternatively, you can complete a consumer complaint form and submit it via mail to the address indicated on the top of the form.

The Attorney General's Office cannot guarantee you restitution after resolving the complaint. To recover your funds from the erring handyman, you can file legal action at the Philadelphia Municipal Court Civil Division. Before filing an action in court, it is best to seek proper legal advice on your available legal options from a lawyer. You can use the online lawyer referral services provided by the Philadelphia Bar Association to find lawyers near you.