At an average wage of approximately $18 per hour, Austin handymen are also a cheaper option for minor home repairs than trade professionals in the city, who earn wages of as much as $25 per hour for their services. However, hiring the right handyman for the job in the City of Austin that can guarantee you value for your money will require you to ask the following questions before contracting a handyman:
- Are You Licensed to Practice as a Handyman in the City of Austin?
- How Much Do You Charge Compared to Handymen in the City of Austin?
- Do You Require a Permit to Complete This Work in the City of Austin?
- What Works Can You Do Legally as a Handyman in the City of Austin?
- Do You Carry the Necessary Insurance Policy for Handymen in the City of Austin?
The City of Austin does not issue occupational licenses to handymen that wish to operate within its jurisdiction. However, these professionals will be required to register as general contractors with the Austin Development Services Department before they can perform tasks that require city-issued permits. Examples of these tasks include foundation or floor decking repairs that exceed 128 square feet and work involving fences that are over eight feet high or located in flood hazard areas.
General contractor registrations can be done by accessing the DSD's online Service Center Request Form and selecting the Register/Renew as a Contractor or Homeowner option. Registrants are advised to create a user account on the city's Austin Build + Connect (AB+C) platform before beginning the registration process, as their account ID number will be required when completing the registration form. The submission of a completed Letter of Authorization and the payment of stipulated registration fees will also be required before the registration process can be completed. Inquiries concerning the City of Austin's general contractor registration process can be directed to the Development Services Department at:
- City of Austin Permitting and Development Center
- 6310 Wilhelmina Delco Drive
- Austin, TX 78752
Inquiries can also be directed to the department via email or by calling 311 or (512) 974-2000. You can also contact the department via the aforementioned contact information to confirm the registration status of your intended handyman.
It should be noted that, even though handymen in Austin do not require occupational licenses to operate, these professionals will need to meet certain business registration requirements before they can legally conduct business within the city. These include filing an Assumed Name Certificate with the Travis County Clerk's Office, or the Texas Secretary of State's Office where appropriate, and meeting all applicable federal, state, and local tax responsibilities. Inquiries related to the requirements for operating a handyman business in Austin and the procedure for meeting these requirements can be directed to the Austin Economic Development Department at:
- 5202 E. Ben White Boulevard
- Suite 400
- Austin, TX 78741
- Phone: (512) 974-7800
Queries can also be directed to the Economic Development Department via email.
When in need of home repair services in the City of Austin, it is necessary to find out how much your preferred handyman charges for their services before you finalize any arrangements with this professional. Per data published by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, handymen in the Austin area earn average hourly wages of $18.11. However, the total amount of money that you will have to pay your handyman is typically influenced by several factors, such as:
- The nature and scope of the task at hand
- The size of the task and the amount of labor required to properly execute it
- The cost of materials and supplies that will be needed to carry out the task
It is advisable to get estimates for your task from different handymen in the city before making your hiring decision. Find out if the estimates are calculated using hourly rates or a flat fee and look out for estimates that are significantly different from the others. In many cases, this is usually an indication that you are dealing with a fraudulent handyman.
Austin handymen earn an average wage of $37,680, annually. The table below compares and contrasts the average hourly wages of handymen and other general maintenance and repair workers in Austin with those of workers in this industry across the State of Texas and major American cities:Austin Handyman Average Hourly Wage$18.11Texas Handyman Average Hourly Wage$19.38Houston Handyman Average Hourly Wage$20.96Boston Handyman Average Hourly Wage$25.61Detroit Handyman Average Hourly Wage$20.28Los Angeles Handyman Average Hourly Wage$22.77New York City Handyman Average Hourly Wage$24.50
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Permits are typically required for the construction, alteration, repair, improvement, or conversion of buildings and structures that are located within the City of Austin. These permits are issued by the city's Development Services Department and a separate permit is generally required for each building or structure where the work in question occurs. However, this department makes exemptions for certain types of repair, improvement, and alteration tasks done on one and two-family dwellings and townhouses that are not more than three stories. These permit-exempted tasks, many of which are typically performed by handymen, include but are not limited to:
- Work on fences that are not over eight feet in height and are not located within a flood hazard area
- Painting, papering, carpeting, tiling, countertops, cabinets, and other similar tasks
- Replacing roof coverings that do not adversely affect the roof's structure
- Replacing existing asphalt shingles with same-kind materials
- Foundation and floor decking repair that does not exceed 128 square feet
- Replacing or repairing exterior trim components
- Work involving portable HVAC appliances or units
- Replacing minor parts of HVAC equipment, provided that these replacements do not alter the equipment's approval or make it unsafe for use
- Stopping leaks in drains, soil, waste, or vent pipes, provided that the removal and replacement of defective traps, drain, soil, waste, or vent pipes are not required
- Installing or repairing electrical devices, appliances, equipment, apparatus, or electrical wiring that operates at less than 25 volts and are not capable of supplying more than 50 watts of energy
- Replacing existing receptacles with ground-fault circuit interrupter, arc-fault circuit interrupter, tamper-resistance, or weather-resistance receptacles
Permits for tasks that are not permit-exempted can be made online via the city's Austin Build + Connect (AB+C) platform. This platform requires the creation of a user account for first-time applicants, and interested parties can utilize a user manual to get information on how to create these accounts. Alternatively, permit applications can also be submitted via the Development Services Department's online Residential Intake Request Form. Note that applicants that wish to utilize this submission method will also be required to provide an AB+C ID number during the permit application process. Also, depending on the scope of the task, the submission of additional documents like plot plans, structural plans, and floor plans may be required. To this end, permit applicants are advised to schedule a consultation with the Development Services Department to determine the specific permitting requirements for their intended home repair tasks before applying for permits. These appointments can be scheduled online or by calling (512) 978-4504.
It should be noted that once requested permits have been issued and the permitted tasks commence, inspections may be required during the duration of the work and at its completion. A list of required inspections is usually provided when permits are issued and these inspections can be scheduled by any individuals that are associated with the issued permits. You can get additional information on Austin home repair and maintenance permitting and inspection processes and procedures by contacting the city's Development Services Department by calling phone numbers 311 or (512) 974-2000, via email, or in person at:
- City of Austin Permitting and Development Center
- 6310 Wilhelmina Delco Drive
- Austin, TX 78752
Handymen in the City of Austin do not require occupational licenses to ply their trades and they can legally perform any type of home repair or maintenance tasks in the city, except for plumbing, fire-sprinkler, electrical, and HVAC-related work. Work in these categories is regulated at the state level and handymen that wish to perform these types of works must obtain trade licenses from either the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation or the Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners before doing so. Failing to do this can lead to state-imposed penalties, which typically include fines and possible jail time. For example, performing HVAC-related work without a valid trade license can result in fines of anywhere between $500 and $3,500.
Note that handymen in Austin must register as general contractors with the city's Development Services Department if they intend to perform tasks that involve pulling permits. You can contact this department at 311 or (512) 974-2000 to verify whether your handyman has completed this process. Also, it is advisable to get a clear idea of how much the handyman charges for their services and how this payment should be made before they commence any work, to avoid getting into payment disagreements down the road. Estimated costs for common services offered by handymen in Austin are provided below:Artwork hanging$50 - $145Cabinet repair$80 - $420Drain unclogging$75 - $160Driveway sealing$80 - $200Drywall repair$85 - $250Electrical appliance installation$85 - $300Faulty fixture repair/replacement$75 - $310Gutter cleaning$100 - $270Home childproofing$110 - $430Lawn care/landscaping maintenance$50 - $300Patio/deck painting$160 - $500Snow removal$50 - $290TV mounting$50 - $250Residential handyman services$53.90 - $79.80 per hour (labor only)Commercial handyman services$56.40 - $82 per hour (labor only)
More than 37 percent of the fatal occupational injuries that occurred in Texas in 2020 were reported amongst construction, maintenance, and repair workers. As such, even though there are no mandatory insurance requirements for handymen that wish to operate in the City of Austin, the importance of hiring a properly insured handyman cannot be overstated. Working with an insured handyman provides you with legal and financial cover in the event that on-the-job accidents, bodily injuries, and property damage occurs during your home repair task.
To this end, always request proof of commercial general liability insurance from your intended handyman and make sure that the insurance policy is up-to-date, adequate for the scope of your project, and includes third-party coverage. If your handyman has any employees that will be on-site during the home repair task, then you should also request proof of workers' compensation insurance coverage for these individuals. You can authenticate any proof of insurance that your intended handyman provides by contacting the insurance company that issued this proof. You can also direct inquiries concerning the handyman's insurance coverage to the relevant insurance company.
When hiring handymen to provide home repair services, it is necessary to take precautions against unscrupulous individuals that prey on unsuspecting homeowners by taking their money and performing subpar work or not delivering any work at all. In September 2020, local news channel KVUE reported that an Austin-area contractor was under investigation following allegations that this contractor had accepted payments worth thousands of dollars from several homeowners and subsequently failed to deliver the required home repair services. Likewise, in March 2022, news station Fox 7 Austin published an alert from the Better Business Bureau warning homeowners affected by recent tornadoes in the area to be on the lookout for scammers when undertaking necessary repair and rebuilding tasks to fix the damages to their homes.
Some signs that you may be dealing with a home improvement scammer include:
- The handyman insists on cash-only deals
- The handyman is reluctant to provide references
- The handyman requests a high upfront payment
- The handyman agrees to a handshake deal and claims that written contracts are not necessary
- The handyman contacts you out of the blue
- The handyman utilizes high-pressure sales tactics to get you to expand the scope of your task
The following tips can help you avoid falling victim to home improvement scams when hiring handymen in Austin:
- Be cautious of unsolicited handymen
- Obtain at least three estimates for your home repair task and carefully compare these estimates. Note that the lowest estimate does not automatically provide the best value
- Never make full payment in advance of the job. Limit upfront payments to 10 - 30 percent of the task's total value
- Contact the Austin Development Services Department at 311 or (512) 974-2000 to find out whether permits will be required for your home repair task and make sure that the handyman pulls all necessary permits. Be wary of handymen that ask you to pull your own permits
- Request and verify references from your intended handyman. Do not hire any handyman that cannot provide you with this information
- Lookup reviews and possible complaint records on the handyman online via platforms like the Better Business Bureau, Google Review, and Yelp
- Verify the handyman's insurance status
- Request written contracts and make sure that you read any document that you are given carefully before you sign them. Never sign any contracts with blank spaces or contracts that have ambiguous statements or clauses
In the event that you or a loved one fall victim to a home improvement scam, you can report the matter to the Travis County Attorney's Office at:
- 314 West 11th Street
- Room 300
- Austin, TX 78701
- Phone: (512) 854-9415
Complaints concerning home improvement scams and other fraudulent business practices that occur in the City of Austin can be reported to the Consumer Protection Division of the Texas Attorney General's Office online, via phone number (800) 621-0508, or by mailing a pdf consumer complaint form to:
- Office of the Attorney General
- Consumer Protection Division
- P.O. Box 12548
- Austin, TX 78711-2548