Stephan Baldwin is the Director of Business Development for Assisted Living Center, a resource for senior care communities.
A recent study found that in 2012, 26% of all fraud complaints tracked by the Federal Trade Commission were filed by individuals 60 years of age or older. This alarming statistic underscores the difficulty many seniors experience when seeking a reliable handyman or contractor service.
For you seniors interested in hiring home repair help, the following tactics will help you identify a trustworthy, affordable, and efficient handyman.
Set a Budget
The first step to hiring for any type of work on your home is to assign a budget. Most seniors are on a fixed income that includes social security and perhaps a pension. That being said, it’s vital that you determine how much money you can spend – and stick to your budget. In most cases, a handyman who works independently will do what they can to stay within your budget. Those who are part of a professional service company may not be able to be so flexible, as oftentimes, the company has fixed rates per job.
The next thing to consider is the home repair company’s or individual’s reliability. Often referrals from people you trust are the best way to go, as some online sites like Yelp! might not be totally accurate.
If you do want to check out the company’s or individual’s online reputation, avoid reviews that seem cookie-cutter, that use a stock image for the reviewer’s profile picture, and that seem as if they’re advertising the service. Reviews can help you get a basic idea of the quality service you can expect, and they may be enough to help you choose the service provider that’s right for you.
Bring in Family
You can also bring in your family and friends if you have a difficult decision to make. Oftentimes, those who aim to take advantage of seniors will look for those people who seem like easy victims. Bring your family to your home on the day your handyman is coming, whether to meet you or to start working. Having them around clearly conveys the message that you have someone looking out for you, and you will not be taken advantage of.
Know What You Want and Need
It’s best with any service to have a basic plan. Knowing what you absolutely need done, as well as whatever work might have to be done, can help you discourage fraud. When you first speak with the company or individual, have a good idea of what needs to be done to fix the problem. Now, this may not be possible for everyone, so if you need to, get a friend, family member, or reliable third party to help you determine what fixes might be necessary. This knowledge can help you avoid handymen and other contractors who tack on unnecessary repairs to drive up the bill.
Don’t Be Afraid to Get a Second Opinion
Most contractors and handymen will give you an estimate or work order before they start working. This gives you time to go over what they say needs to be done, as well as how much the job will cost (including an itemized list). Upon getting a quote, if you feel you’re being taken advantage of in any way, don’t hesitate to get a second opinion.
Hiring a handyman doesn’t have to be intimidating. With the right information, you can better assess the company or individual while also avoiding being over-billed or otherwise taken advantage of. Seniors are especially at risk, and with the tips above, elderly homeowners can find the best person to do the job.