How to start a handyman business in the UK

A self-employed handyman using a circular saw.

Handyman services are in high demand in the UK right now. According to Trade and Construction software company, Powered Now, nearly a quarter (23%) of handymen in the UK are working over 10 hours a day just to service the backlog of work they have*.

This means, if you’re a practical individual, becoming a handyman can be a great way to turn your skills into a profitable business.

Of course, running your own handyman business takes a lot of commitment and hard work. From picking up relevant qualifications to knowing what insurance you need, there is lots to think about before taking the plunge. In this guide, we run you through a number of important steps you’ll need to take when launching your own handyman business.

What qualifications do you need to be a handyman?

You don’t need a degree or any qualifications to start a handyman business in the UK. However, formal training can help you to attract customers and boost earning potential in the long-term. It’s also important to note that some services that you, as a handyman, want to offer may require a qualification to carry out. For example, certain electrical jobs may require a diploma in Electrical Installations or a completed electrical apprenticeship. Similarly, if you’re going to be offering certain heating services, you legally must be Gas Safe registered.

Although no qualifications are needed if your services are going to be DIY-based, certain training programmes can benefit your new business. For example, you may want to consider taking a short DIY training course at college or an adult learning centre. Alternatively, you could apply for an apprenticeship. If successful, this could see you work with an experienced handyman and pick up a qualification, all while honing your own skills. This could be a good option before starting your own business.

How to build a handyman business

Building your own handyman business takes more than just the skills to work in this industry. While working as an employed handyman is hard work, running your own business is another kettle of fish. As well as being able to provide a good quality of work for your clients, you also need to learn to manage the day-to-day operations of a small business. To give you the best chance at success, you need to lay good foundations. Below we outline a few important steps all handyman entrepreneurs will need to consider taking.

Conduct market research

No matter what industry you’re starting a business in, you’ll need to conduct market research. The purpose of this is to identify the demand for your services in a certain area. By doing so, you will be able to plan the best way to position your business. It can also help you decide what you want your business to specialise in. For example, if you are going to operate in a mostly residential area, you may choose to focus on domestic handyman services. On the other hand, if you're better suited to commercial handyman work, researching an area in which lots of businesses are located is a good idea.

Research should serve two purposes. Firstly it should help to give you a better understanding of your potential client base. Find out who and where potential clients are and what they are looking for in terms of services. Based on your findings, you can decide if you can make your prospective business a success.

Secondly, the market research stage should also include competitor analysis. Before you launch your own company, you need to see what similar handymen in the area are doing. By identifying your competition at this point, you can assess what services they provide and how much they charge. Using this information, you can decide how to make yourself stand out in the local industry. For example, you may want to offer more competitive pricing, or offer a wider range of services.

Buy the tools and equipment you need

While tools may have been provided while working as an employee or an apprentice, when running your own business you’ll need to buy your own. Without tools and equipment, you can’t work as a handyman. For this reason, it’s also a good idea to make sure all your equipment is covered by specialist tools insurance. Below we take a look at the basic tools and equipment all self-employed handymen need:

  • Well-equipped basic toolbox (hammer, adjustable spanner, screwdriver set, pliers, etc.)
  • Power drill and drill bits
  • Power sander
  • Circular saw
  • Set of chisels
  • Utility knife (with replacement blades)
  • Tape measure and spirit level
  • Extension cords
  • Step ladders
  • Electrical tester (if you offer basic electrical services)
  • Stud finder
  • Basic painting equipment (brushes, rollers, trays, etc.)
  • Pencils and markers
  • Generic odd job supplies (nails, screws, fasteners, paint, etc.)
  • Cleaning equipment (hand vacuum, broom, cleaning cloths, etc.)

Register your business

Once your research is complete and you have the tools you need to start working, it’s time to register your business. This is a big milestone for any company. However, before you do this, you have to decide what type of business you want to run. There are two main business models self-employed handymen can choose from. The sole trader/partnership model and the limited company model.

Most self-employed handymen start by operating as a sole trader. This means they don’t have to pay to register their business and all accounts remain totally private. However, the downside of this model is that business liabilities are not limited. This means, if your business is in debt, your personal assets could be put at risk. This is also true if you form a partnership with another individual. The only difference here is that your business’ liabilities are shared between all partners.

The alternative is to set up a limited company. If you do this, your personal finances remain totally separate from your business’. This means private assets are protected. However, you do have to pay an incorporation fee to set up a limited company. Additionally, going limited is more time-consuming and requires a lot of paperwork to be filed. Finally, you are also required to publish your business’ accounts each year.

With pros and cons for all business models, make sure you take your time when deciding which best suits you.  

Set your handyman rate

With your business registered, you can start thinking about your services and pricing structure. As discussed above, your market research should play a part in these key decisions. As should your level of experience and any qualifications you have gained. However, to provide some context, the average handyman in the UK will charge around £30 per hour for their services. Remember, this rate will usually be on top of a set call-out fee. This is usually around £50.

While you may advertise a whole range of services, remember that if you specialise in a certain area you may be able to charge more. The more niche your specialist skills, the higher you will be able to set your hourly rate.

Purchase insurance

The final thing you need to consider before you start trading is insurance. Although most insurance types are not compulsory for handymen, some are. For example, if you hire any employees, apprentices or volunteers, you are legally obligated to take out employers' liability insurance. This financially protects you if an employee is injured or falls ill while working for you.

Although not mandatory, public liability insurance is a sensible option too. These policies provide financial protection in the event a third party makes a claim against you relating to injury or property damage. For example, if you accidentally damage a client’s decor when assembling furniture, this insurance will cover the cost of repairs. Similarly, it will protect you if a member of the public trips over one of your tools and becomes injured while you’re working.

Given how much handymen rely on their tools and equipment to do their job, tools insurance can also be a particularly important type of insurance to consider buying. If your tools are lost, damaged or stolen, this policy could give you the money you need to replace or repair the tools.

Professional indemnity insurance is also something handymen should consider. This protects you if a client claims you have made a mistake that has caused them financial loss. For example, if you are found to have given incorrect advice that results in the client losing money.

How much is insurance for a handyman business?

Specialist handyman business insurance at Markel Direct starts from £8 a month. Our handymen insurance policies are built around the needs of your business. This means you can create a tailored insurance package, made up of the handpicked policies, that your business needs. 

Example premium of £8 a month is based on a handyman requiring £1 million of public liability cover, no claims history and meeting all underwriting criteria.


* Source:

Business insurance from £5 a month