The twin forces of a bustling real-estate market and a red-hot construction industry mean good times — possibly the best ever —...
HONOLULU — The twin forces of a bustling real-estate market and a red-hot construction industry mean good times — possibly the best ever — for a niche industry of handymen who work for $1,000 or less per job.
With homebuyers and sellers wanting renovations and repairs in a hurry and building contractors busy on larger jobs, handymen in Hawaii such as David Asmar, 51, are booked for at least the next three months doing such jobs as hanging cabinets and installing floors.
“I can’t handle any more work,” Asmar said. “I don’t sleep as it is.”
Lee Masterson, 56, said his telephone “rings off the hook every day. Every day I’m busy, and the money is definitely flowing in.”
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With no more overhead than functioning transportation, handymen typically can earn $50,000 to $75,000 or more a year. They represent a small slice of an industry on a roll.
With construction companies so busy, Carky Ainlay, co-owner of HomeQuest Realtors, has come to rely on handymen to keep houses and condos moving and her clients happy.
“A good handyman is worth his weight in gold,” Ainlay said. “They definitely can help you get maximum value out of a property.”
Bee Tan, a real-estate agent with Prudential Locations, keeps the numbers of five fast, reliable and cost-effective handymen in her cellphone.
Tan’s clients often need to patch walls, install crown molding or make other changes to get their maximum sale price. And Tan’s new buyers typically find themselves with a long list of repairs or minor renovations they want done immediately.
So Tan turns to her handymen, who she said “make the property more valuable so you can sell it quicker. It is money well spent, definitely. In this real-estate market, these types of handymen are excellent to have.”
But for bigger jobs that require a building permit or plumbing, electrical or roofing work, Tan said she always calls in a licensed contractor.
Handyman Lance Evers, 36, recently took out a little three-lined classified ad offering his services. The response was immediate and overwhelming.
“It’s been amazing,” Evers said. “The calls have been nonstop. Because the construction industry is booming, nobody wants to touch these small jobs. It’s not worth their time (for contractors) to come out and do a job for under $1,000. We’ve found ourselves a good little niche.”
Evers’ only problem has been locating the right building materials for all of the jobs he has lined up.
In the first week of his new business, Evers was hired to install ceiling fans, air conditioning, build a wheelchair ramp, tear down an old fence and put up a new one.
And the calls continue pouring in.
“I guess everybody’s going to make money out of this construction boom and real-estate boom,” he said.
Like Evers, Cromwell Day, 29, is happy to enjoy the good times of the trade.
Day has been working as a carpenter since he was a teenager and remembers the slowdown in the construction industry in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
“The attitude then was you were lucky to have work because it was so slow,” Day said. “Now I’m busy — insanely busy. The problem isn’t no work. It’s too much work.”