how to find decent plumber/handyman
June 4, 2013 9:31 AM   Subscribe

We have a plumbing emergency, and a backlog of household projects and repairs.

How do I find a decent plumber/handyman? It is my impression that Angie's List is a near-total scam; and Yelp has almost no information in this department for my area.

We live in Bronxville, in Westchester County, NY, in the unlikely event that someone knows someone in this area.
posted by Lizzle to Home & Garden (13 answers total)
Start asking friends and coworkers for recommendations.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 9:34 AM on June 4, 2013

We have had almost universally great luck with Angie's List. It does require carefully reading the reviews, but I've been using it for a while and don't see anything scammy about it. Personal recommendations are better of course (usually; sometimes one data point isn't enough), but we found them hard to come by when we were new to the area. Maybe it varies by market?
posted by primethyme at 9:42 AM on June 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

I've had zero problems with Angie's List; just read the reviews. (Craig's List, though, has been worse than worthless for handyman-types.)

But yes, start with word of mouth.
posted by thomas j wise at 9:44 AM on June 4, 2013

Our neighbors are incredibly unfriendly and unhelpful.

Think Livia Soprano. Most of them will not respond when you say hello.

So neighbor-related strategies are not happening, and I am looking for other strategies.

When I Google "Angie's List" and "worth it," I get a lot of complaints that the listings are paid for and not genuine from users, meaning that you are basically paying a fee for online Yellow Pages.
posted by Lizzle at 9:53 AM on June 4, 2013

Angie's List absolutely does not accept paid listings. Those complaints are more than likely from tradespeople who got bad reviews by their customers on AL. Angie's List is a fantastic resource.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:56 AM on June 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

I hired several excellent contractors off Angie's List and was pleased with every one of them. I don't maintain a subscription now, but if I went through a period where I expected to have several projects done, I'd subscribe again in a heartbeat.

Otherwise, are there any neighborhood websites/community meetings/twitter accounts/anything that might help put you in touch with other neighbors who are perhaps a bit less Livia-esque?
posted by Stacey at 10:02 AM on June 4, 2013

I subscribe to Angie's List and have found terrific contractors through them. I've also done my share of reviews on there. IMO it's not at all a scam, but you do have to read the reviews carefully.

Ideally, I use an Angie's List + Yelp combo, but you say that there are no Yelp reviews for your area and your neighbors are not forthcoming. Angie's List might really be helpful for you.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 10:10 AM on June 4, 2013

Does Bronxville (my mom grew up there) still have an old-fashioned hardware store? Go there, or call them, and ask for recommendations. Or ask the owner of any small locally-owned business. Did you buy your place from a local realtor? If so, call and ask her or him.
posted by mareli at 10:38 AM on June 4, 2013

I wish I'd paid attention to the review of our crappy contractor on Angie's's totally legit.

The reason I don't subscribe any more is because Angie's List doesn't have many listings for my area. Like, none, for some basics (electrician). We're lumped in with the metro area about 50 miles away, which does have tons of listings. No idea what the quantity is in your area, but you can probably subscribe then cancel right away if you can't find anyone.

Our realtor was a good starting point, if you have one or know one.

Sometimes when I called I'd get a bad vibe from someone, so I just wouldn't use them. Call enough people and you'll know if you're getting treated well or not, ditto on prices.

Sometimes we just hired someone and then didn't have them back for future work if we didn't like them.

If you find one tradesperson that you do like, they sometimes make recommendations.

Good luck; I know how sucky it is to be in this situation.
posted by orange (sherbet) rabbit at 10:55 AM on June 4, 2013

Hey OP a friend of mine has a startup for the New York area where you can ask local home repair people for advice for really cheap. They will certainly be able to give you some guidance and recommended local providers if you wish. It's called Pegu. Check it out maybe!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:10 AM on June 4, 2013

Nthing Angie's List - they've changed my "luck" on hiring contractors from batting about .300 to nearly perfect.
posted by randomkeystrike at 11:26 AM on June 4, 2013

Another vote for Angie's List - but take the time to read the reviews. While AL does a good job of filtering out revenge reviews and overly gushy feel good reviews, there is also the chance some get through. So reading between the lines is important.

I have been using AL to help a family member get workers for her house. To date, we have not been disappointed and she has contracted about 8 or 9 people for various jobs from plumbing to a new driveway. This is in Illinois.

Downside of AL: as noted up-thread, the site can be a bit thin depending on where you live. So make use of the location preferences.
posted by lampshade at 12:20 PM on June 4, 2013

I LOVE Angie's list. I have used the services of several people found there and have always been very pleased.
posted by michellenoel at 2:13 PM on June 4, 2013

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