The term handyman or handyperson describes a paid worker, but it also includes non-paid homeowners or do-it-yourselfers. Tasks range from minor to major, from unskilled to highly skilled, and include painting, drywall repair, remodeling, minor plumbing work, minor electrical work, household carpentry, sheetrock, crown molding, and furniture assembly (see a more complete list below.) The term handyman is occasionally applied as an adjective to describe politicians or business leaders who make substantial organizational changes, such as overhauling a business structure or administrative division.
Many people can do common household repairs. There are resources on the Internet, as well as do-it-yourself guide book with instructions about how to complete a wide range of projects. Sometimes the fix-it skill is seen as genetic, and people lacking such skills are said to “lack the handy-man gene.” One trend is that fewer homeowners are inclined to do fix-up jobs, perhaps because of time constraints, perhaps because of lack of interest; one reporter commented “my family’s fix-it gene petered out before it reached my generation.” A primary rule for all do-it-yourself repair work is focus entirely on one thing at a time. For example, focus on getting a nail; then focus on hammering the nail; but don’t try to do both tasks simultaneously. In this manner, injuries and mistakes are avoided.
This project involved mortaring the crack between the back patio and the exterior wall to prevent water from seeping in the basement.
Generally the job of paid handyman is low status, a semi-skilled labor job. It’s a less prestigious occupation than a specialist such as a plumber, electrician, or carpenter. With the emergence of large national chains, and effort is being made to change that perception, by emphasizing professionalism and the fact that a handyman is actually a technician with multiple skills and a wide range of knowledge. At the same time, unpaid homeowners skilled at repairs are valued for saving money. And handyman tools sometimes become useful in different places: for example, when a proper neurological drill was not available, an Australian doctor used a handyman’s drill in 2009 to open a hole in the head of a 13-year old boy to relieve pressure after a brain injury; the boy’s life was saved.