Guide to estimating handyman prices by the job
Whether you’re just starting as a self-employed handyman or run a property management business, nailing down your handyman prices by the job is crucial for your success. Here’s why.
If you price yourself too low, people will think that you’re inexperienced or that there’s some sort of catch. As a result, you won’t make enough money to support yourself and stay in business.
Now price yourself too high and you’ll force potential customers to shop around for estimates from other handymen.
So how do you find that sweet spot when establishing your price?
Well, keep reading to learn how to price your jobs right. Here’s what you’ll learn in this guide:
Table of contents
Pricing your handyman work
As a reliable handyman, your technical skills will include:
- Fixing a kitchen sink.
- Installing kitchen cabinets.
- Appliance installation.
- Replacing light bulbs in any type of fixture, including ceiling fans.
- Blind installation and cleaning.
- Finding and fixing a leaky pipe.
- Stair repair and maintenance.
- Carpet installation and removal.
Besides getting paid for your experience, you need to consider that some jobs will take under an hour and some jobs that can take a couple of days.
And of course, the more experienced you are, the less time it’ll take you to install new light switches, for example.
But should you make less money for being a skilled handyman? Of course not.
This is why many businesses set their handyman prices by the job instead of at an hourly rate, especially for a minor repair.
Here are more detailed looks at both pricing models.
Handyman prices by the hour
This is a fairly common way to price jobs and one that most people are familiar with.
To figure out your target handyman hourly rate, you need to consider the following:
- Business expenses. Typical business expenses can include your:
- Tools and equipment.
- Truck/work vehicle and maintenance.
- Licensing fees.
- Phone and internet.
- Marketing budget.
- Living expenses like your:
- Rent or mortgage.
- Personal vehicle and maintenance.
- Child care costs.
- Taxes, including state and federal income tax.
Once you’ve totaled up your monthly expenses, divide that number by four. That will tell you how much you need to make per week to cover your overhead costs and living expenses.
Now that you have a minimum target income, divide that number by the number of hours you’d realistically work in a week. Keep in mind that working hours will have to include things like:
- Visiting and inspecting homes to give estimates.
- The time it takes to take care of banking and bookkeeping.
- Time spent working on your website and other marketing efforts.
Once you’ve figured out the number of hours you’ll reasonably be spending doing actual handyman work, dividing your living and operating costs by those hours will tell you what your minimum charge per hour should be.
Of course, to make a profit to cover things like growing your business, cost of living increases, vacations, etc., you’ll have to charge more than your costs. This will be your target handyman rate.
You also want to make sure that you’re not leaving any money on the table. So basically, if your minimum charge plus profit still comes in below the market value for common handyman services, you want to adjust your rate accordingly. More on this below.
Handyman prices by the job
This is the right pricing strategy for work with shorter job timelines, where an hourly rate wouldn’t make sense. Say, for example, you charge $100 per hour but a job will only take 30 minutes. It’s probably not worth your time and energy to make $50 on that job.
Handyman prices by the job, versus hour, are also the right call if your hourly rate multiplied over several days would shock a potential customer and is higher than a competitive market rate.
To know how to set your handyman prices by the job, you still need to know your target hourly wage. Then you need to accurately estimate how long a job will take you to finish.
Once this is done, you can bake your target hourly rate into your quote based on the amount of work needed, plus your other costs such as your travel and overhead. More on this below!
Advantages of fixed rates
One of the biggest advantages of setting your handyman prices by the job is that they can be easier for potential customers to swallow than an estimate listing a whole bunch of expenses. Of course, it also takes the right pitch to win the job.
Something else to think about is that if you charge what other handymen do for the same job, you can make more than your target hourly wage if you finish in less time.
Say, for example, you know that it will take you half an hour to install a kitchen faucet and that your target handyman wage is $100. If the current market rate for a faucet installation is $75, you can charge that flat rate and make more than you would at your hourly rate.
To be successful with this strategy, you have to know your industry well and be skilled at what you do. You also need a sixth sense of which price is more likely to convince a customer and win you the contract.
How to estimate handyman jobs
Now that you know where to start when setting your rates, it’s time to figure out how to attractively set your handyman prices by the job so that your estimates turn into actual work.
Below are a few things to take into account when giving estimates.
Determine the handyman services needed
Handyman work is a general term that can include almost everything under the sun. From toilet or sink installation to more skilled trades such as technical construction work, and general contracting services — your experience and licenses can lead to different handyman jobs.
And the harder and more skilled the work, the higher the handyman prices for the job.
It is, however, important for your reputation and long-term success not to take a job you’re not able, or licensed, to handle.
Research your competitors’ rates
As you learned earlier, whether you charge by the hour or set your handyman prices by the job, you need to know what other handymen are charging in your area.
These are a few sites where you can find that information out quickly:
- Angie’s List.
- Home Advisor.
As you’re probably aware, some sites, like Craigslist, are popular with more budget-oriented customers and the handymen who cater to them.
While it’s frustrating that your prices can be skewed this way, it’s easy to set yourself apart from the rest.
Being good at your work is the first step to this. But being fully licensed and insured can help with your reputation as a top-rated handyman. Of course, you have to market yourself this way and assure potential clients that you’re worth the money.
Make the decision: Hourly cost or project-based?
Before deciding on which pricing strategy works best for you, consider the pros and cons of each.
Some of the advantages of charging by the hour are that:
- It’s easier to track your hours than make sure you’ve factored in all your costs.
- You won’t lose money if a job takes longer than expected.
On the other hand, when you charge by the hour:
- You’re not guaranteed a minimum payment on a project.
- Your hourly rate total could end up being less than the average flat-rate fee for the same work.
When it comes to setting your handyman prices by the job, here are the benefits:
- If you work efficiently and finish a job early, that’s extra money in your pocket.
- You can charge more than your target hourly wage for jobs with a higher value.
- Your customers will know exactly what they’re paying.
The flipside to pricing by the job is that:
- If you underestimate your costs or the time it takes, you are stuck working at a loss.
- Some customers might not be comfortable with a flat fee rate.
Your decision will probably be based on your experience and the type of work you usually do.
If you’re still not sure which is the best pricing model for you, you can always mix it up and price by the job for smaller projects and by the hour for larger ones.
Handyman prices by the job for special projects
When setting your handyman prices by the job, something else to keep in mind is any special tools or equipment needed.
Similar to subcontracting different trades, you may need to rent special equipment to get the job done. You might also have to pay someone to operate it.
Equipment like jackhammers, backhoes, and power washers are expensive and need to be accounted for when delivering estimates.
Calculate your material costs
This is one of the costs that have the biggest impact on your handyman prices by the job.
To figure out material costs, you need a tape measure, calculator, and an up-to-date price list for the materials you need to get a job done. On top of this, you need to account for your time to pick out materials at the local big-box store.
Most handymen will charge a markup of anywhere from 20 – 50% when they buy the materials themselves.
And what about delivery? If materials are being delivered to the job site, that cost needs to be added to your flat rate. Same thing if you’re using your own vehicle and gas to transport the materials yourself.
If you have employees, there’s much more to consider than what they make in pay.
Typical expenses that need to be factored into your handyman prices, by the job or the hour, include:
- Worker’s compensation.
- Employee benefits and bonuses.
- Gas for work vehicles.
- Other expenses you may cover for them.
Add these expenses to your team’s hourly wages and your labor cost will look a lot different.
Factor in other markups for handyman prices by the job
Besides the markup on your estimates to cover skilled workers, special equipment — your material, labor, and travel costs need to be known.
This means time, gas, and wear and tear on your vehicle(s) need to be included in your estimates.
And it’s not just the traveling you’ll be doing to and from the job site. Travel costs to and from a waste disposal facility could also be a factor. Wear and tear on your vehicle is something else to consider when setting a flat rate for your handyman jobs.
Plan ahead: What if the job takes longer?
This is one of the disadvantages of setting handyman prices by the job. Any unforeseen problems or a picky customer and suddenly you can forget about finishing on time and making a profit.
One way to deal with this challenge is to make sure you clearly explain to customers that your estimates are based on the average price for similar jobs. In other words, if any issues that you couldn’t have reasonably predicted do come up, you aren’t stuck working at a loss.
This is a sensitive situation that needs to be handled with care. So when you are giving estimates, make sure to:
- Pay attention to all the little details and really inspect the item to be repaired or the conditions you’re working in.
- Assure your customers that, 9 times out of 10, the price in the estimate is what your customers end up paying for the job.
Typical hourly rates for a handyman
Although you don’t typically include costs like materials in your hourly rate, the scope of work does affect how you should price a job.
In areas where the cost of living is higher, for example, handyman services are generally more expensive to account for increased living expenses. This rings true for states like New York, California, and Massachusetts, where handyman prices are higher than in other states.
That said average hourly rates for a handyman in the U.S. are usually fit in the below ranges:
- Self-employed: $50 – 80/hr.
- Corporate: $75- 125/hr.
- Low-end handyman: $40/hr.
- High-end handyman: $130/hr.
- National average: $60/hr.
Now, let’s look at how much to charge for the top 7 most popular handyman jobs.
The average handyman price for these 7 common jobs
Without any further delay, below are the average, typical handyman prices by the job for everyday tasks! The following prices are based on national averages that were found by researching several handyman websites.
#1: Install a bathroom fan
The estimated price for installing a bathroom fan will be influenced by three things.
- The type and the cost of the fan itself.
- If you’re installing a new fan and doing the ductwork to vent it to the outside.
- Whether or not you need to hire an electrician.
Bathroom fans alone can range from $20 to a few hundred dollars so it’s smart to connect with your customer on what they’re looking for here.
All in, the average price range to simply replace an existing fan is $150- 550. This includes the fan and labor needed for installation. This job usually takes around 2 hours and the price for it is $375 on average.
Installing a new fan may require you to hire a licensed electrician to sign off on electrical work depending on your state’s rules. You may also need to hire an HVAC specialist, so it’s best to thoroughly scope out the job before creating the estimate.
That said, the average range to install a new bathroom fan is between $250 – 1,000 and can take a few hours or days depending on the situation.
#2: Repair tile and grout
If you’ve ever had tile floors, you know first-hand how quickly a tile can crack and how much dirt can get stuck in the grout. In fact, these are the top reasons this work is a really common job for handymen.
The many different designs and shapes of tiles, however, make creating an estimate for this work a bit tricky. The first challenge comes with stock availability and cost.
When fixing cracked tiles, for example, the material of the tile and availability of replacements are an issue. Let’s say your customer wants their tile floor repaired instantly but the matching tile is on backorder, or worse, is obsolete.
Different materials can also make this work expensive as marble and slate tiles, for instance, can get quite pricey. What’s more, is that it’s not always an option to purchase tiles individually, even if you just need to replace one.
So you’ll need to think about who keeps and pays for the additional tiles in the pack when creating your estimate.
Regardless of these variables, the average cost to repair tiles and refresh the grout is around $440. If you’re just replacing the caulking around a shower, the average price range is between $100 – 280 depending on the amount of work needed.
#3: Install an awning
Like bathroom fans, awnings come in a wide range of sizes, features, and prices. Retractable awnings can cost anywhere from $2,000 – 3,500.
Installing a new awning can take around 5 hours and the average price range for this job, including the awning, is between $800 – 2,500.
Fixing a broken awning takes, on average, an hour to do with an average price between $250 – 1,000.
#4: Holiday lighting set up
The price for putting up holiday lights depends on how many lights there are and the height of the building you’re installing them on.
The average range to put up holiday lights on a single-story home is between $200 – 400. This range can go up to between $650 – 1,500 for a multiple-story install.
If your customer wants you to supply the lights and decorations, you’ll need to factor this into your cost.
One option is to bill the customers for the costs of the lights and the time that went into buying them and let them keep them at the end of the season.
Another option is to lease lights to your customers and store them over the summer for reuse during the next holiday season.
Either way, it’s best to connect with your customer and decide what the best-case scenario is for both of you!
#5: Install childproofing devices
The price for this job will depend on the type and number of devices. Typical childproof devices include:
- Cabinet locks.
- Corner guards.
- Baby monitors.
- Outlet covers.
The price range for childproofing an area is between $200 – 700, with an average price of $420 including the devices.
#6: Replace a bathroom faucet
Replacing a bathroom faucet is a standard handyman job and one you’ve probably done many times.
The price range to replace a bathroom faucet is typically between $120 – 300. The average price tends to be at the lower end of that scale at around the $150 mark.
And if it’s an emergency faucet replacement on a holiday or weekend you can, of course, charge a premium for your services.
#7: Clean the gutters
While this job doesn’t need much equipment (usually just a ladder, gloves, and a power washer) it can be dangerous.
Depending on the size of the roof, gutter cleaning prices range from between $100 – 250. This makes the risk, often worth the reward for tradespeople.
Top handyman estimate FAQs
Click the links below to get to the answers:
How much should I charge when starting a handyman business?
When you first start, you won’t make as much as an experienced handyman. You do have to take the time to make sure you’re doing the job right so your hourly rate may not be super high in the beginning. Make sure you’re at least covering all of your expenses and making at least some money on your jobs though.
It’s also important not to take jobs you can’t handle and get in over your head.
Most businesses survive on repeat business and referrals so being honest and competent are important for your long-term success. The key is to be patient and understand building a career and a business don’t happen overnight.
How do you price a handyman job?
In a nutshell:
- Before setting your handyman prices by the job or the hour, you need to know all of your business and living expenses.
- Calculate your minimum target hourly wage + profit.
- Find out the going rate for the same job.
- Be sure to include the following costs:
- Skilled workers and other subcontractors.
- Labor costs.
- Travel costs and other markups.
- Special tools and equipment.
Your price for a handyman job will also depend on the job itself and how difficult it is.
With all these factors considered, you stand a great chance at creating estimates that win customers and fuel your growth!
Image credit: Seventyfour via Adobe Stock
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