How to Start a Handyman Business

How many entrepreneurs does it take to change a lightbulb? One. You. Starting right now.

Business at a glance

Income potential

Average Hourly Rate
$60-125 + material costs

Startup costs

Equipment
Depending on if you already own tools and a vehicle, handyman startup costs range from:

  • Tools: $0-3,000
  • Vehicle: $0-5,000

Administration

  • Business license: $0-1,000
  • Contractor’s license: $0-1,000
  • Insurance: $30-200/month
  • Business cards: $50
Training

Depending on the type of work and the state where you live, you may need to obtain accreditation from a recognized institution, such as a trade school, HVAC training center, plumbing apprenticeship, etc.

The nuts and bolts of how to become a handyman

So you’ve been thinking about ditching your office job and starting a handyman business. Well we’re here to tell you to be responsible…and do exactly that. Working for yourself is a great opportunity to build a career on your terms (and schedule) and a handyman business doesn’t have to be a big expensive enterprise to launch. Let’s take a look at the basic things you need to do to get going, and then get going!

What are you handy at, exactly?

Handyman isn’t a super specific job description. There are all kinds of home repair, maintenance, and improvement projects that fall into the handyman category that you may or may not have the knowledge, tools, and skills to perform. So your first step is to determine what you can offer clients.

Essential details

Potential Services

Interior services

  • Plumbing: bathrooms and kitchens
  • Electrical: lighting, heating, switches, home security, smart home devices
  • Drywall: repairs and renovations
  • Furniture: assembly and repairs
  • Painting: walls, ceilings, cabinetry, doors, baseboard, trim
  • Carpentry: built-in shelving, hanging doors, cabinetry, trim
  • Window coverings: blinds and curtains
  • Energy efficiency: weather stripping, insulation, and caulking
  • Flooring: tile, carpet, wood, and linoleum
  • Babyproofing: padding on hard corners, baby gates, safety locks, and outlet covers
  • Senior accessibility upgrades: handrails, ramps, bathroom safety, and stairlifts

Exterior services

  • Yard maintenance: patios and paving stones, BBQ installation, and raised garden beds
  • Fencing: wood, chainlink, steel, stone, and gates
  • Painting: prep, exterior walls, doors, and fences
  • Gutter cleaning: remove debris, repair gutters and downspouts, and resolve clogs
  • Window washing: ground level only or full service
  • Screens and shutters: seasonal installation and removal
  • Pressure washing: home exteriors, driveways, fences, and stairs
What to charge

Average Hourly Rates
$60-125

But ask any handyman what they charge for their services, and they'll probably say "it depends."

Handyman services vary pretty widely, and many handyfolk charge per job instead of per hour depending on the scope and scale of the job.

No idea where to start? This pricing guide gives a good baseline to think from.

Skills required
  • Customer service
  • Communication
  • Organizational skills
  • Basic math and geometry
  • Technical skills

Does a handyman need to be licensed?

Many states require handypeople to have a license. The need for a license is usually determined by the value of the project. The state government will set a dollar threshold, for example $10,000, and if the project value is going to be above that, the handyman needs to be licensed. Talk to your state  and local governments for more information.

Depending on your location, there's a good chance you'll need a license to start that handyman business.

What’s it going to cost you?

Depending on what services you plan to offer, the tools you already have, and the licensing requirements in your state and city, starting a handyman business can cost anywhere from nothing to thousands of dollars.

The key to keeping your startup costs low is to only offer services that you are capable of doing with the tools and business supplies you already have. Buying lots of fancy new stuff or paying for a contractor’s license without any job prospects is a quick way to get yourself in the hole before your business can get off the ground. So start small and work your way up.

How much are you going to charge?

Standard handyman rates range from $60-125 per hour, plus the cost of materials. Higher rates are usually charged by larger companies in bigger cities. However, this fee structure can scare away customers because the final cost is unpredictable, so many handypeople prefer to quote a fee per job.

When you charge by the job, small, quick tasks can add to big $$$ quickly...

Just figure out roughly how long a particular job takes on average, add in material costs, and there’s your flat fee for service.

By charging an agreed-upon rate for a specific service, your customer knows what the bill is going to look like, which develops trust—no surprise fees. This also gives you an opportunity to build in additional or premium fees for certain materials or services. Don’t want to deal with clogged toilets? Bump up the fee for plunging to take away some of the…unpleasantness.

How much does a handyman make? Well, depending on experience, location, and service offerings, the midrange annual pay for handyman services is anywhere from $38,000 to $63,000. But with hourly wages reported up to and in excess of $120, there are plenty of handyfolks who make more than that.

Tool up!

Before you start looking for your Home Depot credit card, be aware that you do not need all the tools on this list. If you have most or all of these already, great. If not, you can consider buying only the essentials to cover the types of handyman services you intend to provide. Here’s a list of basic handyman tools.

Must-have handyman tools

Power tools

  • Circular saw
  • Power drill with bit set
  • Palm sander
  • Dremel set
  • Power washer
  • Extension cords

Hand tools

  • Hammer
  • Screwdriver set
  • Adjustable wrench set
  • Allen wrenches
  • Pliers
  • Scissors
  • Pry bar
  • Level
  • Flashlight
  • Measuring tape
  • Stud finder
  • Utility knife
  • Pencil
  • Sharpie
  • Handsaw
  • Paint brushes
  • Painter’s tape
  • T-square

Safety

  • Safety glasses
  • Dust mask or respirator
  • Gloves
  • Earplugs
  • Knee pads

When it comes to power tools or unusual hand tools, if you really need a specific item for a job, remember that you can probably rent one from a local hardware store, borrow one from a tool library, or buy a used one from Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace. You don’t need to break the bank when you’re just starting out!

Now build your handyman website

So your toolbelt is loaded up and you’re ready to start hammering. Wait, you need a website first. Your website is one of the main ways that people will find you, the place where you can send potential clients for more information, and the best way for satisfied customers to refer their friends, family, and colleagues. It is essential that you have a user-friendly website loaded with services, contact info, positive reviews, and photos of your work.

If you’re great at building furniture but not so good at building websites, don’t worry, Durable’s AI website builder has you covered. With just a couple of clicks, Durable will generate a professional looking website complete with text, images, colors, and fonts in 30 seconds, completely free. No design skills or coding experience necessary. Want to see an example? Check out the handyman website template.

Start promoting your handyman business

It’s time to put yourself out there. Don’t worry too much about detailed marketing plans—just cast a wide net to build a broad client base, generating jobs and positive word of mouth.

  • Look for leads on Angi Leads
  • Spend small amounts on targeted digital ads on Facebook and Google Ads—learn how with this guide
  • Post on services like Craigslist, Nextdoor, Thumbtack, Facebook Marketplace, and Angi  
  • Set up social media accounts (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn), post frequently, and make sure you respond to comments
  • Knock on doors in your area and have real conversations with homeowners
  • Print marketing materials like lawn signs, door hangers, flyers, and business cards
  • Talk to interior designers, architects, developers, general contractors, and construction companies to see if they will refer you when they receive projects that are too small for them
  • Ask satisfied clients to leave great reviews (Durable can help with that)

Fix yourself up to get paid

The satisfaction of helping people is one of the perks of being a handyman. But the reason you’re doing it is the money, right? So before you start taking jobs, make sure your business is set up to get paid. Start by sending beautiful, professional invoices with Durable’s invoice tool so your clients always know how much, when, and how to pay.

You should also set up a business bank account to keep your personal and professional finances separate and organized, which is super helpful at tax time. Fortunately, there is Durable Money, an online business bank account that integrates with your invoices and website automatically, keeping you on top of your money at all times.

Ready to get started?

Get your Handyman website generated in seconds, and start building your business of one.

When your handyman business starts to grow

Once you’ve done some jobs and have some experience under your toolbelt, there are some things you can do to keep building your business.

Brand your handyman business

While you may have started out working under your own name, a creative and memorable business name can help clients recognize your operation in a sea of competitors. Try to come up with something unique—if you need help, the AI business name generator is a great place to start. You should also consider adding a simple but distinct logo and brand colors that you can use everywhere from business cards to lawn signage.

Upgrade your marketing strategy

With your marketing basics in place, take some time to sharpen your tactics.

  • Competitive analysis: check out the websites, ads, and other marketing materials of your competitors to find out what they’re offering, how much they’re charging, and how they are promoting their services, then use what you learn to optimize your own strategy.
  • Understand your customer: what do your best customers look like? What do they have in common? If you want to encourage more customers like them, look for similarities that you can use to more effectively target your marketing tactics.
  • Send email: when you start talking to potential customers and booking jobs, you’ll naturally build a list of email addresses. Don’t waste the opportunity to send them email. Email is more effective than social media, so there’s a good chance they’ll read what you send—special discounts, seasonal reminders, and anything else that benefits your business and your clients.
  • Set up a CRM: client relationship management software is basically a digital address book that captures data about your clients so you can manage and market to them more effectively. 

Invest in better tools

You do not have to spend thousands of dollars on tools to be a handyman. With rentals and used equipment available, there is a way to start working without blowing up your budget. But once you understand your niche a little better, you might want to consider a few key upgrades for your toolbox.

Handyman tool upgrades

Power tools

  • Reciprocating saw
  • Miter saw
  • Nail gun
  • Angle grinder
  • Jigsaw
  • Router
  • Belt sander
  • Heat gun

Hand tools

  • Ratchet and socket set
  • Tin snips
  • Caulking gun
  • Staple gun
  • Hacksaw
  • File
  • Ladder
  • Chisel set

Only upgrade the tools that will earn you more money in the long run. If a miter saw can help you cut trim twice as fast while charging the same rate for the job, that might be worth it to you. On the flip side, if your old truck works fine but a new Dodge looks so sweet, maybe think about fixing up the old one with a vehicle wrap or a new muffler for a fraction of the cost.

Insure your handyman business

When you’re working with power tools in people’s homes and businesses, plenty can go wrong. Personal injury, damage to property, and professional malpractice are all real possibilities, so be sure that you are insured.

When working on someone's property, you never know what could go wrong. Get insured!

You may also want to insure your tools and your vehicle for commercial purposes. Check out our in-depth guide to business insurance, then consult a broker you trust to see what types of packages are suited to the services you offer.

Building a foundation for the future

There’s no need to try to build an empire from day one. But as you gain a little success, it’s a good idea to think about your business on a longer time scale. Here are some things you can do to help your business continue to grow.

Write a handyman business plan

A business plan is an excellent way to understand your current business, set goals for the future, and plot a path that will get you from A to B successfully. It doesn’t have to be a huge annoying project, just a basic document that you can refer to when you need to stay on target. If you need a little help getting started, the U.S. Small Business Administration offers a handy template.

Register your business entity

Many handyman entrepreneurs start out as sole proprietors, an informal business type that usually doesn't require much paperwork. But there are advantages to registering as a formal business structure such as an LLC, like protection from liabilities, increased access to capital, and tax benefits. If you decide to register your business formally, be sure to work with a CPA or business attorney to determine the best options for you.

Scale your handyman business

At a certain point you’re going to be working full time and you won’t be able to take any more jobs. This is called success. Great work.

The only problem is, your income will be maxed out. So you need to find a way to keep increasing revenue without having to actually work more hours. Here are some options:

  • Eliminate low-paying services from your offerings and add premium services
  • Hire part-time, full-time, or contract employees to work under your brand
  • Acquire financing for major purchases that will increase the speed and efficiency of your operation, such as a new vehicle
  • Take investment capital to fund major expansion, such as adding a fleet of vehicles or franchising

When scaling your handyman business, try to remember what got you here in the first place: careful spending, only taking on what you can handle, and a commitment to helping your customers. You got this.

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