Handyman in Wisconsin

6 Replies

Hello BP!

I recently started a new job and I am looking to possibly partner with my uncle to purchase a duplex this year. Our goal is to find a duplex that is in need of repair so we can add value to create a nice ARV. As such, the agreement will be that he puts up the capital and I put up my time and energy to fix up the building. Seems like a good plan so far right?

So, I have helped my dad remodel his house, helping with maintenance, doing repairs, helped close in the front porch, and built a new porch on the back of the house. In addition I also helped him build a 100'x30' shed. So with all of that I have a fair deal of knowledge on how to do things and have access to the resources to figure out how to do the things I don't.

So before we find the ideal property I figure there will be possibly 4-10 months before we find something that will fit what we are looking for. So in this time I want to start a handyman business. My plan is to take smaller jobs(that should be obvious) but wont actually make any money. I want to use maybe the first dozen jobs or so as free labor for the customer. So I would do the work, get the experience, and the customer would just pay for materials. I think this would get me a good foundation to be able to then figure out what I would have to charge later on and give the experience to make the best choices when fixing up the duplex that I purchase.

So with all of that said, here is my question. In Wisconsin what are the legal requirements for a handyman? I have seen some states require that you have a licenses, so don't require it, some put a limit on how big a job you can accept, or how you advertise. So here in Wisconsin what license or paperwork do I need so I don't get fined or huge tickets and where can I find that information? I spent most of my weekend combing the internet to see what I could find for Wisconsin but I can't seem to find anything. Any help will be appreciated!!


Check your local building permit department.  Here in milwaukee, you cant pull a building permit unless you have a contractor’s license which requires a state single family dwelling contractor’s license which requires a bond or insurance.

you will want Handyman insurance, and as @Glen Morrow stated, you will not be allowed to pull permits, per state law, you would need a contractors license to pull permits, and technically to do work on a 1-2 family dwelling. to get the license you need to complete a 12 hour training, and pass a test, and have appropriate insurance, Quite expensive insurance at that. That being said, there are plenty of "handy people" doing work all over, that dont necessarily follow the letter of the law.  also if you are going to put yourself out there as a handyman, you had better have an extensive knowledge base,  and know the limitations, I.E. what you can and cant do when it comes to electrical, Plumbing , ect.  

@Glen Morrow @Scott Schultz   Thanks for the response.  As a handyman, I don't think I would need to pull building permits for painting a room, replacing a faucet, or putting up drywall, would I?  

Also as I put in the original post, do you know where I can find out any legal requirements?  I remember reading somewhere that in Wisconsin a handyman can't do any jobs over $500, is this true?  The big thing I would like to know is what work a handyman is legally allowed to do.  I know some states won't let you do any electrical work unless you are licensed, so you couldn't do something like replacing a faulty light switch.  These are the kinds of things I am looking to figure out so I don't go out and end up getting a massive fee.

Read the electrical and plumbing code, from what I read, anyone can replace light fixtures, switches, recepticals and faucets, but that’s how I read it, as for permits, depends where you are, some places have $200 thresholds, some require permits for any work, others do not require permits unless structure is changed like in Merrill. So you will need to know the rules where you work, as well as know the sales tax requirements, for where you are working. You have a ton of research to do.

Too bad you don't live in Rock County. I would have a never ending supply of work for you to do and also could hook up you with a fixer upper duplex within the next 2 weeks.

@Chris Heeren I actually just moved to Hartford for my new job.  If you want to DM me we can maybe talk about possibly working something out, because I would definitely be open to driving down to Rock County on weekends to do work!  I definitely would like to start buying real estate, starting with a duplex, but not sure if I would be ready to do that quite yet.  

Create Lasting Wealth Through Real Estate

Join the millions of people achieving financial freedom through the power of real estate investing

Start here