First things first: handyworker? Yes, that would be my chosen gender-neutral term for what you may also know as handyman. You could also use the term handyperson.

Whatever you want to call them, I’m referring to the skilled workers that can perform a wide range of repairs and installations. Electricians. Carpenters. Plumbers. Mechanics. The odd-job heroes and heroines who can fix anything you can think of.


At some point in our lives, we all wish we could have a handyworker, well, to hand. Maybe there’s a leak in the roof or a burst in the pipes.

An unsightly crack in the walls or a creaking in the wooden infrastructure. We’ve all found problems with our homes that have made us worry about either our safety or the decrease in property value.

To put it briefly, the demand for handyworkers is ubiquitous and never-ending. So if you were considering starting a handyworker business, either a company or solo, I would call that a strong business move.

Knowing how to do it

Presumably, if you’re interested in this line of work, then you consider yourself pretty handy with these kinds of jobs. You know how to fix your sink, how to work a saw, how to paint a house. But do you know enough? This all depends on what kind of work you want to specialise in.

So identify what exact discipline that thing you’re good at falls under. Are you good with those pipes under the sink? That would be plumbing, then. So what kind of work might a plumber be expected to do?

Look it up. Find the most exhaustive list of plumbing jobs you can find and ensure you know your way around all of them. The Internet, of course, has an abundance of research materials.

You should still consider checking out your local library for any material, though. You should also consider some magazine subscriptions. They’ll be loaded with new approaches, how-tos, and probably job adverts!

Getting prepared legally

Of course, it’s not as simple as strengthening your knowledge then putting your contact details online. This line of work needs quality standards.

A person hiring a handyworker needs some kind of assurance that you’re safe to let into their house and start working at it with dangerous tools. So you will need to look up the licensing requirements wherever you live.

There are a few agencies to turn to, but the most famous is probably the State Board of Contractors. (They may have slightly different names in your state. Get onto Google and type ‘state board of contractors’ along with the state, city or country in which you reside.)

The type of license you will require will depend on what business you’ll be running. If you’re a solo freelancer, you’ll want a license just for yourself. But you’ll probably require a license for each area of services you offer.

Plumbing, mechanics, electrics – chances are you’ll need a license for each one. If you’re starting a business with multiple handyworkers, everyone will need licenses. You can look into getting everyone sorted at the same time.

You will also need to establish yourself appropriately with the government. Your sole tradership, or small business, must have itself properly listed for business and tax purposes. This is necessary to get the licenses you need.

Acquiring the right equipment

The fewer areas you’re planning to service, the easier this step is going to be. There are so many tools that each service requires that it can be a little overwhelming at first.

An electrician, for example, will need several types and sizes of pliers, wire cutters, and wire strippers. They’ll also need screwdrivers, outlet testers, voltage detectors – the list goes on and on. And those are just the basics!

Make sure you look up all the equipment a professional is going to need. If you have a friend who is a handyworker, use this to your advantage. Talk to them about the equipment they need on a daily basis.

Ask them if they’ve ever been caught empty-handed on a surprise task. Learn from them! Once you have all your tools, you’ll need a way to transport them to where you are needed. You could, of course, consider your own car.

But it depends on how big and reliable your vehicle is. The reason a lot of handyworkers use vans is because of the abundance of space in the back.

There are plenty of larger tools a handyworker will need – a ladder is probably the most obvious example (Don’t assume that there will be one where you’re going – that goes for all the tools you’ll think you’ll need!).

You’ll also need something in which to transport tools from the vehicle to the place itself. This, of course, calls for a toolbox. Consider something like a tool drawer liner to keep your toolbox from becoming that dangerous mess of tools you sometimes see.

Keeping safety in mind

This is technically part of “getting the right equipment”. The fact is that you’re putting yourself somewhat at risk in this line of work. Without the correct protection, you’re exposing yourself to the most dangerous elements of a building.

Electricity and water are pulsing everywhere around a home. So even if you’re an electrician, not a plumber, you need to consider water risks.

There are the most obvious items, like hard hats and gloves. You may even want to bring fire extinguishers in your vehicle in case of an emergency. You also need to ensure that you’re able to see what you’re doing properly.

You’re probably going to find yourself in tight and dark spaces, so bring torches or lamps. Getting a light installed on a helmet will be crucial if you want to ensure proper visibility while keeping your hands free.

You should also consider some first aid basics. Pick up some plasters in case you get a bleeding scratch. (Trust me: you’re going to get a few of them in this line of work!) You should also get some kind of antiseptic liquid or wipes, as the objects you may scratch yourself on probably won’t be that clean. And some eyewash would also be a nice idea, though ideally you’ll be wearing eye protection!