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By Roz Rogoff

About this blog: In January 2002 I started writing my own online "newspaper" titled "The San Ramon Observer." I reported on City Council meetings and other happenings in San Ramon. I tried to be objective in my coverage of meetings and events, and...  (More)

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Handyman Business

Uploaded: Aug 9, 2014

My former neighbor, Luigi Robles, came over this afternoon to help with some handyman type tasks I needed done around the house. Luigi used to rent a room across the street, but he recently moved to an apartment near the southern end of San Ramon. I staked him to the deposit, which he is paying off by doing fix-it work on the weekends.

The carpet in my dining room was pulling up where it connected to the vinyl in the kitchen. It was becoming a hazard. I almost tripped on it a couple of times and I needed it properly fastened down so I wouldn't have an accident.

Luigi pulled up the old connector strip and nail boards, cut the frayed edges of the carpet back, and put down a new transition strip with carpet gripper hooks built in. It took Luigi about an hour and a half to cut and curve the transition strip, fit the carpet edge into it and tack it all down safely. It is very professionally done. He said he never worked with carpet before.

Last year I was trying to find a handyman to do work around the house. I hired someone who didn't work out. I tried to hire someone else who didn't want to do the jobs I needed done. Luigi worked for me before on a barter bases. Two years ago he cleaned my roof and gutters in exchange for an electric bicycle.

I tried to talk him into starting a handyman business, but he wanted a paying job with a weekly or monthly paycheck. He works for Comcast now. I asked Luigi if he would be interested in doing some handyman jobs after work and on weekends to pick up some extra money. He liked that idea. I said I would write my blog about it tonight. He said to give it a try.

My friend Sally suggested I take on the business end of the handyman business so Luigi wouldn't have to. He would just handle the service calls. This seems like a good arrangement and I could make some extra money too.

Luigi is smart and a hard worker. He's polite, honest, and reliable. He remodeled my half-bath a few months ago. He took out the old toilet and sink and installed new vinyl flooring, a new toilet, and reinstalled the sink and vanity.

He also patched some damaged vinyl in my other bathroom. He cut out the torn vinyl, sanded the subfloor, patched any holes with wood filler, cut new vinyl to size, glued it down, and matched the seams as closely as possible. It doesn't match the original flooring because I didn't have any of the original pattern left, but it is otherwise a perfect job.

We don't have any formal business arrangement yet. I have a DBA for "My Training Dept." which is a training business that I don't do anymore but I bill my blogs under that name. I would probably create a new business entity if I go into the handyman business with Luigi.

This blog is a trial balloon to see if there is any interest. Luigi is bi-lingual, English/Spanish. He's Puerto Rican, so he's an American citizen. He would be available for handyman jobs from 3:30 pm to 7 pm on weekdays and all day on Weekends. I'm considering billing $50/hr. not including drive time for jobs in Dublin, San Ramon, or Danville.

Does anyone have any suggestions (and no trollisms please)? I know we'd need insurance. Luigi has his own tools. I'd have to publish a DBA, but I wouldn't bother incorporating for such a small operation.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by It's all clear to me now, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Aug 9, 2014 at 11:34 pm

"He's Puerto Rican, so he's an American citizen."

Oh. Well! If you say so, that comes as a great relief. Truly. I've often wondered about those Puerto Ricans. But now I know!

Posted by It's All Clear To Me Now, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Aug 9, 2014 at 11:50 pm


In a recently buried blog post, you mention that a JD in law is equivalent to a Ph.D.

You don't know much about law degrees, do you? The JD and Ph.D. are not even remotely equivalent.

You also mention that you are an off-the-street hire at a lousy university. You mention, too, that you have a Ph.D.

I might submit that the reason you and your colleague are off-the-streeters is because neither of you do what is called for from genuine professors at genuine universities -- that being, published research. This is why I can say with quite some confidence that the students of both Cushing and yourself are being short-changed -- paying full tuition for instructors who have no real demonstrated expertise in one or more area.

Posted by Michael Ausgtin, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on Aug 10, 2014 at 7:20 am


You can DBA with an umbrella policy.
A million dollar umbrella runs around $250 year.
Also, go to the city office, San Ramon, take out a home business
license as an independent contractor for around $50.

Posted by Michael Austin, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on Aug 10, 2014 at 7:22 am

thumbed an extra letter 'g' into last name.

Posted by San Ramon Observer, a resident of San Ramon,
on Aug 10, 2014 at 1:19 pm

San Ramon Observer is a registered user.


You are always helpful. Thank you so much. I'll check out the City first. I remember having a home business license for My Training Dept., when I was developing training materials for clients ten years ago.


Posted by Jim, a resident of San Ramon,
on Aug 11, 2014 at 10:07 am

Just be aware of laws in CA pertaining to Contractors State License Board (CSLB). By law, anyone contracting for an improvement that has a value of $500.00 is subject to becomming a licensed contractor. Best to keep this on the "down low" through your verbal network of friends and neighbors. Any broadcast of this on this web venue could get you and Luigi into legal trouble. Remodeling a kitchen is likely over the $500.00 amount and would have required a licensed contractor. Go to CSLB website for more information. Little odd jobs under the $500.00 amount are fair game. Getting a city license for the "under $500.00 work" probably still applies. Good luck!

Posted by Jim, a resident of San Ramon,
on Aug 11, 2014 at 10:17 am

I previously incorrectly referred to a kitchen remodel, and after looking more closely, I realized it was a half-bath remodel. Anyway, I'm sure you get the point, $500.00 rule applies when a single job reaches that amount. Also, unless Luigi operates as the sole owner/employee - then the business will have to buy worker's compensation insurance. City of San Ramon could probably fill you in when you inquire about a license. Or better yet, go to the Building Department and ask them about CSLB laws pertaining to who is required to be licensed by the state.

Posted by San Ramon Observer, a resident of San Ramon,
on Aug 11, 2014 at 12:29 pm

San Ramon Observer is a registered user.


Really helpful comments. I was on the Secretary of State's website last night checking out names. I wanted to use The Fix-It Guy, but a handyman in Fremont has a similar name.

I will check out the CSLB, and I appreciate the information. I noticed that most handyman businesses are Limited Partnerships or LLC's. If Luigi and I are partners, we would both be owners of the business, so neither of us would be an employee. At least that's how I interpret that, but I will check it out.

We could also be independent contractors. Luigi could be licensed as an individual and I could have a separate business for scheduling and keeping the books. I know a lot of these kind of services are set up that way.

I'll ask Luigi if he has a Contractor's License. He might, but if he doesn't I'm sure he could qualify for one.

One thing I like about Luigi is he always asks where I want something put or how I want it done. I get so sick of guys who come in and do everything their way and not my way. My gate latches were 6" too high for me (I'm short), so the fence company had to come back and move them down where it was easier for me to reach.


Posted by Jim, a resident of San Ramon,
on Aug 11, 2014 at 4:00 pm

You may be better off just having him do small jobs and stay under the $500 limit. Getting a CSLB license requires insurance, bonding and taking a test after proof of X amount of years in the industry. The test is heavily weighted on contract law (liens, contracts etc.). If you limit the business venture to small jobs below the $500 threshold, you'd (or he'd) only need a City license. I think you are correct about setting up a separate company for each of you. You would basically be the booking agent or broker, and he would be the recipient of the work. You could charge him a fee for each job you book and bill(flat fee or % of the job). Or, you culd collect the fee from the client so as to not eat up the $500 amount in the transaction. Since you said that he would prefer to retain his day job and do handyman work as a side job, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to get a CSLB license, unless he's going to do big jobs on the weekend. When you start advertising, you are exposing yourself to CSLB inspectors. They do sting operations. I believe that they are actually considered sworn officers like a police officer, and they can arrest and detain. If it were me, I would keep him to myself as a personal handyman and refer him to close friends and family by word of mouth. Barter with him to get work done at your house in lieu of a referral fee on leads you send his way. Guys like this are hard to find. We had a handyman several years ago who could do almost anything, but his back gave out and he had to quit the trade. Good luck, and stay out of trouble. The little money you will make by not abiding by the rules is hardly worth the risk.

Posted by San Ramon Observer, a resident of San Ramon,
on Aug 11, 2014 at 6:33 pm

San Ramon Observer is a registered user.


You are right. This isn't going to be a full time job for either Luigi or me. It's just to pick up some extra money. If Luigi charges $50 an hour, most jobs would be under 5 hours; so that would be $250 at most.

Thank you for all of the information. I might not even get involved other than to help Luigi set up some small moonlighting jobs after work.


Posted by Tom F, a resident of Castlewood,
on Aug 12, 2014 at 8:47 am

I simply contract labor from the Home Depot. No need to worry about Paco and insurance.

Posted by Formerly Dan from BC, a resident of Bridle Creek,
on Aug 14, 2014 at 8:44 am

Formerly Dan from BC is a registered user.

I recently hired a handyman for some work around the house and he charged by the task, not by the hour.

This make's sense because some tasks only take a handyman a few minutes to repair. Billing in increments would seem economically unfeasible.


Posted by San Ramon Observer, a resident of San Ramon,
on Aug 14, 2014 at 2:09 pm

San Ramon Observer is a registered user.


I hired a handyman who charged by the job, but then realized he underbid on a job that would take more time then he originally estimated. So he quit and claimed it was because he didn't like my attitude when I questioned him about something.

I'm not sure how to estimate what a job is worth. Luigi might be better at that than I am.


Posted by Formerly Dan from BC, a resident of Bridle Creek,
on Aug 14, 2014 at 4:56 pm

Formerly Dan from BC is a registered user.


You either had a bad handyman or the task called for a specialist i.e., plumber, electrician, carpenter...etc.

It might be helpful to first define what type of "handyman" tasks Luigi knows really well and bid only on those projects.

Posted by REALLY PW? YOU DISGUST ME, a resident of Avila,
on Aug 16, 2014 at 12:06 am

Hi Roz,
I don't know if you will read this, but I previously asked for an update on Lulu. However, the PW deemed my comment to be "bad" so they deleted it. This clearly shows the PW really ought to check out how they filter comments. Why would they delete my innocent question asking how a poor dog is? Obviously, the PW must hate helping out unfortunate animals.

Oh, just to make sure this post doesn't get stupidly deleted again I thought I would add this "relevant" part: Handyman business in Pleasanton are great.

Posted by REALLY PW? YOU DISGUST ME, a resident of Avila,
on Aug 16, 2014 at 12:08 am

Ooops... Sorry PW

Posted by San Ramon Observer, a resident of San Ramon,
on Aug 16, 2014 at 2:30 am

San Ramon Observer is a registered user.


You posted your question on my blog about the Glazer flyer, which is probably why you couldn't find it again. I answered it there too. Here's the link to my answer Web Link

I also posted an update on Lulu a few days ago on the original blog. Here's the link for that one Web Link


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