Just like online dating, online hiring may make finding your dream contractor as easy as finding your dream mate. There are pages of search results filled with online booking services designed to handle everything from cleaning ceiling-fan blades to installing a backyard privacy fence. These websites and apps can help ease some of the DIY burden in a pinch, and they also vet the backgrounds of pros you're inviting into your home for projects. We vetted some of these online resources for finding handymen that you can use when you don't have the bandwidth to handle your home DIY jobs.
Everyone has heard a neighbor's horror story about a local contractor during an evening around the fire pit. Fear not! You can still find a reputable service person to repair your drywall using a free search with this site's ProFinder. Browse through pro ratings and (verified) reviews in the LiveDirectory, and use the crowd-sourced True Cost Guide to get an approximate picture of a project, like soundproofing a room, which will run a New Yorker City resident an average of $1,599 (based on 86 cost profiles). Use the free DesignMe app (via iTunes) and high-res inspirational images to create a Pinterest-like mood board for your project, and share it with local pros hired for the undertaking. You can find services in every state and Washington, D.C. The free HomeAdvisor app is available via iTunes and Google play.
Even contractors like to feel wanted, and with a little info, local pros can be vying for your project with bids. Or if you're just browsing, you can check out projects in your neighborhood with before-and-after images and specs that other users have uploaded. We found a $70,000 project at a 2,346-square-foot house, valued at $576,000, in Cliffside Park, New Jersey, that entailed repairing brick stairs and metal railing, patching the sidewalk, and installing a basement window. Play project manager by entering your home address and building a Porch Home Report detailing your place's value, age, size, and duration of ownership in comparison with neighboring houses. Services are available in 50 U.S. cities. Manage projects from your phone with the free Porch App via iTunes or Google play.
Some people like to start with a price point and work from there. Former Amazon execs thought that was the way to go when they started Pro. Search for one of the recommended services, like "construct shark tank," and you'll find you can toggle the pre-estimate cost based on project specs, such as whether your future shark tank is for small or large sharks and if it will be on the ground floor or an upper floor. (The site estimates a mid-range tank will cost you $16,500 to $19,000 and require 100 to 200 hours of labor.) The estimate page also includes an approximate timeline. From there you can select time availabilities, and a project manager will follow up with you to discuss details. The service is available in more than 5,500 U.S. cities.
The e-commerce juggernaut is also in the maintenance and services sector. You can search by ZIP code to get up-front pricing on popular services, such as plumbing tasks and equipment assembly, then add them to your cart and pay for the services once they're complete. For example, having a TV that's 50 inches or smaller mounted on a wall with an installer-supplied mounting bracket and wires concealed inside a cord cover comes to an estimate of $115 in New York City. Amazon runs a background check—including searches for liens, prohibited dealings lists, and judgments—on its pros and requires necessary insurance and trade licenses. Additionally, you don't have to worry about getting a marked-up price from the same pro. Amazon requires that each pro offers the same price even if you call him or her independently. Services are currently offered in 30 U.S. cities.
Don't have an assistant? Outsource your time-sucking chores to vetted taskers who will stand in as your body double for chores like mounting floating shelves or hauling away yard waste. Once you enter your task, you'll see a transparent hourly price—the minimum amount of time for a task is one hour—that includes a service fee to cover member support and insurance. Locations include 18 U.S. cities, London, and some virtual offerings, including items like data entry and graphic design. Get the free app on iTunes and Google play.
The bread and butter of this online operation is home cleaning, but you can choose from a variety of other one-off, handyman services, such as installing a window AC unit or changing locks. The tool provides a service-time estimate and asks questions specific to the service—if the necessary water and power outlets already exist for a new garbage disposal, for example. The service is available in 37 locations, including most major cities in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. Get the free Handy app on iTunes.
If you have a risky situation on your hands or want to get a third-party-pro's opinion on a project before you hire a contractor, scouring inspector databases is a smart first step. Qualified associations, like the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), have free public databases that list both contact info for inspectors and their specialties.
Get tips from the trusted pros of the This Old House TV crew on hiring general contractors, landscape contractors, and plumbers.