Get Quotes from Top Handymen in San Francisco, CA

Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Handyman in San Francisco

Handymen in San Francisco charge less than other general contractors, with a 23% difference in charges. Aside from charging a cheaper rate, hiring an experienced handyman can also help lower your household's expenses on home repairs and improvements. However, before you hire a handyman, it's important to inquire about their charges and the scope of their services. These help you determine if the handyman is suitable for the planned home improvement project and if the work will be carried out effectively.

You can use the following questions to make an informed decision when it comes to hiring a handyman:

Are You Licensed to Practice as a Handyman in San Francisco?

In San Francisco, handymen are not required to have state-issued occupational licenses if they are not performing work worth more than $500. Any handyman providing home repairs or improvement services that will be worth over $500 must obtain the relevant contractor license from the California State Contractors Board (CSLB). A handyman will be charged with a misdemeanor if they do not have an appropriate contractor license authorizing them to bid for a project worth more than $500. This offense carries a maximum fine of $5,000 and six months in jail. Repeat offenders could be fined up to $15,000 per offense.

Even though handymen do not have a state-level licensing requirement, handymen in San Francisco still need to register a business to provide residents with home improvement and repair services. A handyman can only operate a business structure like a corporation, LLC, or a limited liability company in San Francisco after first registering with the California Secretary of State. If the handyman intends to use a different name for their business, they must file a Fictitious Business Name (FBN) statement with the San Francisco Office of the County Clerk.

In addition, the handyman must apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the Internal Revenue Service so that their business can be easily identified and allows them to hire employees. If the handyman is a sole proprietor without employees, they can use their Social Security Number.

Handymen who operate a business in San Francisco must also register with the City's Office of the Treasurer & Tax Collector within 15 days of starting their operation to obtain a local business tax certificate. To register, the handyman can complete the business tax certification application online. The applicant will receive emails requiring them to complete an E-signature application and instructions on how to pay the relevant registration fee.

Once the application has been approved, the Office of the Treasurer and Tax Collector (TTX) will provide you with a Business Account Number, which will be required to obtain various permits throughout the City. Also, the handyman must display their Business Registration Certificate at their place of business conspicuously.

For more information regarding the registration and business tax filing process in San Francisco, you can submit your questions via the Help Center platform provided by the city's Office of the Treasurer and Tax Collector. You can also contact the California State License Board at (800) 321-2752 to inquire about the licensing exemptions for handymen in San Francisco.


How Much Do You Charge Compared to Handymen in San Francisco?

The cost of a home improvement or repair job depends on several factors, such as the project's scope, the type of materials used, and the labor intensity of the work. As such, before hiring a San Francisco-based handyman, it is essential that you get multiple quotes and compare the cost estimates of different handymen near you. Doing this will help you spot fraudulent individuals and avoid getting ripped off and also.

San Francisco handymen earn an average wage of $60,230 annually. The table below compares and contrasts the average hourly wages of handymen and other general maintenance and repair workers in San Francisco with those of workers in this industry across the State of California and major American cities:

San Francisco Handyman Average Hourly Wage
California Handyman Average Hourly Wage
Philadelphia Handyman Average Hourly Wage
Phoenix Handyman Average Hourly Wage
Chicago Handyman Average Hourly Wage
Houston Handyman Average Hourly Wage
New York City Handyman Average Hourly Wage
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Do You Require a Permit to Complete This Work in San Francisco?

According to section 106A.1 of the San Francisco Building Code, permits are required for various types of work in the city, such as the construction, demolition, and alteration of buildings and structures. However, there is an exception to this section, and per section 106A.2, certain home improvements and repairs carried out by handymen are exempted from obtaining a building permit. These include the following:

  • One-story detached accessory buildings or structures used as tool and storage sheds, playhouses, and similar uses, provided the projected roof area does not exceed 100 square feet.
  • Fences not over 6 feet high located at the rear and side lot lines at the rear of the property, and all fences not over 3 feet in height.
  • Amusement devices not on fixed foundations.
  • Movable cases, counters, and partitions not over 5 feet 9 inches high.
  • Retaining walls that are not over 4 feet in height measured from the bottom of the footing to the top of the wall, unless supporting a surcharge or impounding Class I, II, or III-A liquids.
  • Water tanks supported directly upon grade if the capacity does not exceed 5,000 gallons and the ratio of height to diameter or width does not exceed 2.1.
  • Platforms, sidewalks, walks, and driveways, when not part of an exit, and not more than 30 inches above grade and not over any basement or story below and which, for residential buildings, required to be accessible to persons with disabilities, are not part of a required accessible route.
  • Painting, papering, and similar finish work
  • Temporary motion picture, television, and theater stage sets and scenery.
  • Minor repairs to existing interior plaster or wallboard, except when part of a fire-resistive assembly.
  • Prefabricated swimming pool accessory to a Group R, Division 3 Occupancy in which the pool walls are entirely above the adjacent grade and if the capacity does not exceed 5,000 gallons.
  • Reroofing without the installation, repair, or removal of roof sheathing, if the total surface area of the roof reroofed in any 12 months, does not exceed 25 percent of the entire surface area of the roof.
  • Surface mounting of readily removable materials on interior walls.
  • Installations or replacement of floor coverings in areas other than bathrooms and toilet rooms not requiring the removal of existing required flooring.
  • Repair and replacement of glazing in conformity with this code, and provided wire glass shall be replaced in kind.
  • Replacement of doors, except garage doors, in all occupancies, provided they are not part of fire-resistive assemblies required by this code.

The process of obtaining a building permit for home improvement and repair work in San Francisco is handled by the city's Department of Building Inspection (DBI). To obtain a permit you can follow the following basic steps. These include:

San Francisco Department of Building Inspection
49 South Van Ness Avenue,
San Francisco, CA 94103

Inquiries about the city's permitting process can be directed to the Department of Building Inspection at (628) 652-3200.

What Works Can You Do Legally as a Handyman in San Francisco?

In San Francisco, licensed handymen can perform any construction-related work without licensing, provided the project's total cost is $500 or less. However, if a job is worth more than $500, the handyman must obtain a license from the California Contractors State License Board (CSLB). The class of license the handyman will obtain will depend on the specific service the client wants.

Even though there are no regulations regarding the licensing of handymen in San Francisco, hiring a competent individual to provide the necessary home improvement or repair services is still important. You can confirm your intended handyman's professionalism and quality of service by asking for references from past clients. These individuals can then provide you with their reviews and ratings on the work performed by the handyman. If the handyman you are considering for your home improvement project does not have at least three verifiable references, it's a red flag that the handyman may not be qualified to handle the job.

Below are some of the most common home repair and remodeling projects that handymen in San Francisco offer to interested residents of the city:

Artwork hanging
$80 - $189
Cabinet repair
$183 - $471
Drain unclogging
$100 - $270
Driveway sealing
$204 - $1,094
Drywall repair
$293 - 860
Electrical appliance installation
$149 - $207
Faulty fixture repair/replacement
$100 - $00
Gutter cleaning
$110 - $350
Home childproofing
$185 - $600
Lawn care/landscaping maintenance
$100 - $300
Patio/deck painting
$185 - $750
Snow removal
$67 - $550
TV mounting
$90 - $260
Residential handyman services (per hour)
$79 - $90
Commercial handyman services (per hour)
$99 - $116

Do You Carry the Necessary Insurance Policy for Handymen in San Francisco?

Before hiring a handyman in San Francisco, it is essential to ensure that the handyman is adequately insured. Having an uninsured handyman carrying out your home repair or remodeling is risky and can result in you incurring legal and financial liabilities. Between 2010 and 2019, the California Department of Industrial Relations recorded an average of 459 deaths due to work-related injuries and 384 work-related injuries in California.

Although San Francisco does not require liability insurance for licensed handymen, it's still important to request a copy of a valid general liability insurance certificate from your intended handyman. Also, check with the insurance carrier to confirm the certificate's authenticity. Under California's Labor Code, if your handyman has apprentices or assistants who will be involved in the project, the handyman must carry workers' compensation insurance for them. If you have any questions about this requirement, you can contact the San Francisco office of the Division of Workers' Compensation at:

455 Golden Gate Avenue,
2nd Floor
San Francisco, CA 94102-7014
(415) 703-5020

How to File a Complaint Against a Bad Handyman in San Francisco

Unlicensed handymen prey on homeowners seeking home repairs, especially after a disaster. In February 2022, the California State Contractors Board (CSLB) arrested four unlicensed contractors for violating the law. The contractors face various felony charges, including engaging in unauthorized activities and carrying out construction within a declared disaster area. When looking for a reliable and experienced handyman in San Francisco, it's essential to check out the following common signs of a potential scam:

  • Usually, these con artists ask for full payment before completing any work. In most cases, they prefer cash.
  • High-pressure sales tactics are also common in these types of scams.
  • One of the most common tactics used by these con artists is refusing to provide written contracts.

These are some steps that homeowners can take to avoid becoming a victim of a deceptive handyman in San Francisco.

  • Be wary of handymen who offer unsolicited home repair and renovation work
  • Check out reviews and testimonials of your intended handyman before hiring them. You can use reputable third-party review websites like Better Business Bureau, Google Review, and Yelp.
  • Get multiple estimates from different handymen near you. This will help you figure out the best price for the job and also help you choose the most suitable handyman for your home improvement-specific needs.
  • Request for references of past clients from the handyman. This will help you get confirmation about their service quality and professionalism.
  • Ensure that the person you're hiring isn't on the California Contractors State License Board's (CSLB) Most Wanted List. This list can be used to identify errant contractors in San Francisco.
  • Check the handyman's insurance status with the issuing insurance provider. This will help prevent you from incurring legal or financial liability.
  • Never pay the full cost of a home repair job before it's completed. This will prevent you from getting ripped off. Only pay when the work is concluded and deemed satisfactory by you.
  • Avoid handymen who do not want to sign written contracts. It is also essential to read and understand the terms of the contract before signing it.
  • Ensure the handyman is licensed if the project costs more than $500. You can check their license status by calling the CSLB at 800 321-2752.

Confirmed or suspected handymen scams can be reported to the San Francisco District Attorney's Office by completing an online consumer complaint form. Alternatively, you can visit the San Francisco County District Attorney's Office at:

San Francisco District Attorney's Office
350 Rhode Island StreetNorth Building, Suite 400NSan Francisco, CA 94103
Phone: (628) 652-4000
Hours: Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

You can also file a report against a deceptive handyman with the California Office of the Attorney General by completing an online consumer complaint form. Alternatively, you can fill out and submit a printable consumer complaint form to the address indicated in the top right corner of the form.

Although the offices of the San Francisco District Attorney and the California Office of the Attorney General can help identify potential violations of the law, they do not guarantee that you will receive monetary compensation. Instead, you can file a lawsuit against the handyman involved in the fraudulent activity at the Superior Court of the County of San Francisco civil division. Before you decide to pursue legal advice, make sure that you consult a licensed lawyer in the city. You can use the Find a Lawyer platform the Bar Association of San Francisco provides when looking for lawyers near you.