Hiring a Brazilian handyman can be a lot more complicated than it appears. This article will explain some of the main difficulties and some actions that will help avoid any headaches caused by the process.
Brazilians are not the most ‘do-it-yourself’ people on the planet. Hiring someone to fix a door, paint a room or even change a lamp is fairly common in Brazil.
Many families in Brazil have a handyman to call in cases like these. This professional - known in some Brazilian regions as a faz-tudo, or a do-it-all - provides various services, including plumbing, electrical repairs, painting, construction services and general repairs.
A handyman is not a registered worker, nor do they usually sign a contract before doing the job. The handyman also tends not to have a proper education, with many of them being illiterate. They go to your house, do the job and receive payment in cash. So, as with many other informal jobs in Brazil, there might be a thing or two to be aware of.
How to hire
If there is a leak in the ceiling or a sink that needs repair and you do not want to fix it yourself, a handyman might be useful. But how exactly do you hire one?
In most cases, they are recommended to you. Everybody knows someone that, for some reason, has performed general repairs or has helped in a similar situation before. From friends that recently completed a home makeover to an employee, a domestic worker or anyone else in the street.
Although this is the most usual way to hire a faz-tudo, sometimes recommendations just don’t work. In these cases, there are a few other options.
Sometimes, handymen own a vehicle; in almost 100% of the times when they do, their phone number is printed on a window or on a sign attached to the car. If you’ve been to Brazil before, it is very possible that you have already seen a car with the services offered by the handyman and their phone number.
There are flyers spread around the larger cities, where it is possible to find their contact number. Some advertisements can also be found in the newspapers’ classified section or in the good old yellow pages.
Recently, some websites have started to compile a list of available handymen - which services they offer and how much their services cost to perform the required service. This method is not so popular in Brazil, but demand has been growing as it is much more simple than hunting for a phone number in the street.
There are many variables that affect how much you will pay for handyman services in Brazil. Since it is an informal job, if you have known a faz-tudo for a while, they will probably charge a smaller fee.
Costs also depend a lot on the location you are requiring a service, how hard it is to get there, which type of services will be needed, how long it will take and several other factors. The best way to know how much it will cost is to ask the handyman directly and try to set an agreement.
It might be easier to confirm the cost if you have hired the handyman online, through one of the aforementioned websites specialized in these services. Some, like GetNinjas, have even calculated some averages for each city:
- In São Paulo, it costs around BRL 66 to fix a tap, BRL 71 to install a clothesline and BRL 330 to install an A/C
- In Rio de Janeiro, it costs around BRL 85 to install a shower, BRL 90 to change a door lock and BRL 95 to clean an A/C device
- In Salvador, it costs around BRL 75 to install a water filter, BRL 83 to install shelves and BRL 311 to install an A/C
The cost to hire a handyman to build a house also varies greatly. The average spend with these professionals for constructing a house in the Southern region is nearly BRL 411 per square metre. In the Southeast, this amount is reduced to BRL 398 per square metre, while in the Northeast, the average is BRL 360.
Even though it is possible to translate faz-tudo as handyman, these two professions are not exactly the same. There are many peculiarities regarding a faz-tudo that will rarely be seen anywhere else in the world.
Brazilians are not the most punctual people in the world. It is no different with handymen. Do not be surprised if the professional you set an agreement with appears for work at 11:00 even though they mentioned 09:00.
Some services can take more than a day. A home makeover, for example, will certainly take more than 24 hours to complete. In this case, have in mind that deadlines originally established will not always be met.
It is possible that a two-day service transforms itself into a three-day service; something that could take a week can actually take two; and sometimes, handymen are just going to be absent for a day or two. The best advice: make sure your deadline is not too tight.
There are different ways to pay a handyman. If the task is simple, like fixing a door lock or installing a single electronic device, they usually charge for the service. However, if there are various services, they might charge per day.
Another possible payment agreement is to pay per stage; for example, they are going to fix the hydraulic and the electric part, they might ask to receive two different payments, at two different stages. Some will also charge for the whole service, but might ask for a certain amount in advance.
Important note: portable credit card machines might be trending, but that does not apply to handymen. Cash only.
They make the list, you pay the bill
Unlike what is seen in other countries, Brazilian autonomous handymen do not purchase the materials that will be used for the repair or construction. They make a list of things that will be needed and it is up to you to buy them.
There are a few exceptions: for example, if they were hired via a company specialized in providing such services, some items might be brought by the professional. Also, in general, they all have their own toolbox and a few spare parts that are commonly used in similar works.
Cancellations and postponements
You set up a date, the hired handyman does not show up. You buy all the materials, they do not appear. You pay them in advance, they come for a day or two and disappear. Things like this are probably the biggest possible upsets when dealing with handymen in Brazil.
It is not that usual to meet someone this irresponsible and it is safe to say that there are more professionals that perform the job than those who don’t. For safety purposes, it might be a good idea to set an agreement and pay the larger part of the agreed amount only after the service is completed. Some workers will require a certain amount in advance to perform the job, but paying earlier and receiving later is better than receiving nothing at all.