Congratulations! You finally own your dream house. Alas, the list of repairs that it needs is giving you nightmares. The kitchen sink drips, the light fixtures buzz, the toilet runs, and, wouldn’t you know it, your Ken doesn’t DIY. Fortunately, none of those problems require an urgent fix, so you’ve decided to spread out the cost by having a handyman tackle the issues one at a time over several months. But could you ultimately be paying more by having him visit repeatedly instead of just once? Maybe you should bundle the work.
The pros: On top of an hourly rate, some service companies charge a fee that covers the travel time to and from your house (about $75), says William L. Shaw Jr., the chairman of the National Association of Home Builders Remodelers, a trade association. You’ll pay this surcharge only once if your plumber fixes a leak, replaces a faucet, and clears out a drain clog in a single trip. Some jobs, such as fixing hardwood floors or painting, include built-in downtime for the professional (say, when he has to wait for primer to dry). If you ask him to tackle other projects in those minutes, you’ll cross to-dos off your list without increasing the time that he’s at your house.
The cons: Bundling can sometimes entail living with a damaged appliance until you find other items in need of repair. Plus, service companies don’t all share the same billing practices. Some build a service fee into an hourly rate. (Inquire about this when making an appointment.) Some appliance repairs, like fixing a refrigerator ice-cube maker, always cost a flat rate, so you’ll pay the same amount regardless of timing, says Katie Hamilton, a cofounder of Diyornot.com, a home-improvement website.
The verdict: It’s usually worth the effort to bundle. The only exceptions: emergency repairs and large projects (like installing a furnace) that take a solid day or longer. In all other cases, ask the repairman to perform several tasks when he’s making a house call. With the money saved, you might be able to buy your dream pink convertible, too.