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What does a handyman do?

A handyman - also known as a DIY doctor or property maintenance expert - can tackle a variety of tasks. We take a look at what you can expect a handyman to do for you.

In this article

Property maintenance generalists really come into their own when you’ve got a list of small jobs that need doing around the house. Calling in a specialist trader for each task when you need a single shelf built, along with hanging a set of blinds and fixing the lock on your back door for example would be time-consuming and expensive.

A property maintenance company or handyman will typically charge by the hour, rather than have a specific rate for certain jobs. Bristol-based Steve Biggs from SDB Building and Maintenance told us he typically charges £25 per hour for handyman work, or £120 per day for decorating.

Prices will vary across the country – but a handyman’s rates can often work out cheaper for small jobs.

If you’d like to find a Which? Trusted Traders endorsed handyman in your area, use our online search.

What can a handyman do?              

When you have a job or series of jobs that require someone with a variety of manual skills, who is available at short notice, you need a handyman. But what exactly does, or can, a handyman do? Obviously, this will vary from individual to individual, but as a general rule, a handyman can complete the following tasks:

Hanging items on walls: Although it might seem simple to some people - correctly hanging paintings, mirrors, TVs, and other heavy objects can be tricky if you are on your own or struggle with heavy objects. Different walls will require different fixtures and fittings – some, such as, paramount walls, which are often found in 1980s properties – are particularly tricky to work with.

A handyman can take care of all of these hanging tasks for you, and will be familiar with the tools and materials needed to ensure that they will stay firmly in place.

Painting: Handymen and women are typically skilful painters who are more than capable of painting a room. So if you have a straightforward decorating job that you don’t feel warrants a professional painter and decorator, a handyman could be your first port of call.

Cleaning: It’s probably not in your handyman’s remit to clean your house for you. But there are many external cleaning jobs that might require the skills of a handyman, including cleaning your driveway, pathway, or patio.

Gardening and landscaping: If you need help with some general gardening tasks but don’t feel that they require a professional gardener, a handyman can probably help you out.

Many property maintenance professionals will be able to take on some basic landscaping tasks too, such as, mending fences, repairing a shed roof or replacing slabs in your patio.

Carpentry: A handyman can usually take care of all manner of small carpentry jobs, including hanging shelves or fitting doors.

Kit and flatpack installation: These days, so much of our furniture is supplied in flatpack form and it can be difficult, time consuming, and not to mention frustrating to assemble them, but a handyman will have the skills and patience needed to get the job done.

What can’t a handyman do?

Although a handyman has the knowledge, skills, and tools to complete a wide range of tasks, there are certain jobs that must be carried out be a qualified tradesman, including:

Plumbing: the majority of plumbing jobs should be completed by a qualified plumbing professional.

Electrics: Electrical wiring and other specialist electrical work should be carried out by a registered electrician. All installation work needs to be certified and only a suitably-qualified electrician can supply that.

Central-heating repair or maintenance: Any central-heating or gas-oven related work should only ever be completed by a registered Gas Safe Engineer.

Handyman costs and completion times

In 2012, Which? asked recommended handymen about the average cost and completion times of a number of common jobs. These prices are designed to be a guide only and will be subject to variation according to the specifics of each job, your local region, parking, accessibility and so on.

All of our prices include labour and materials but exclude VAT.



Typical price quoted

Price range

Time to do job

Survey conducted in July 2012

Affix curtain pole and hang curtains

Customer providing own curtains and pole. Trader to fix curtain pole to wall and hang curtains for an average patio door (width 240cm, height 202cm).



1–2 hours

Hanging pictures and mirrors

Hang two large pictures and one large mirror. Assuming house is modern and walls are plasterboard.



1-2 hours

Build bookshelves in sitting room

Build shelves in alcove between chimney breast and side wall. Width 2m. Eight MDF shelves floor to ceiling. No painting required. Includes price of labour plus all materials.



4–8 hours

Change lock

Remove old lock, supply and fit new 60mm Yale lock and replace mechanism.



1–2 hours

Assemble flat pack furniture

Assemble a flat pack double wardrobe and five-drawer chest of drawers.



2–4 hours

Gloss woodwork

Gloss skirting boards and one door frame in a 14'10” x 13' 4” (4.52m x 4.06m) room. Rub down, prepare wood and gloss.



3–5 hours


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