Gary Nash, owner of Nash Construction in Marshall, Va., found out the hard way that his company was giving away work. That happened in 1997, when he was visiting a completed project and the clients began to praise the lead carpenter extravagantly.
"They said, 'Not only did he do my basement, but my shelf broke upstairs and he fixed that, and we had a cabinet door and he fixed that.'" All told, says Nash, the lead carpenter did about $3,000 worth of work Nash didn't know about while waiting for other trades.
So Nash, whose company has operated a handyman division since 1997, inserted a clause in his contracts that all change orders would be billed at handyman rates, which, on an existing job, comes to $60 an hour.
"If the client goes upstairs and the closet rod breaks, and she runs downstairs and wants [the lead carpenter] to help her, what is he going to do?" Nash asks. "We want clients to know that the project superintendent is going to fill out a ticket and write the change order on the spot. That allows the superintendent to be a gentleman and still do work outside the scope, allows me not to have to run out to the site and write the change order, and lets the customer get these things done on the run."
Handyman generates about 10% of revenue at the $3.1 million design/build firm. Nash Construction field personnel work four day weeks, with three Fridays a month off. Each works one Friday per month on handyman jobs.