You may be proud of your “do it yourself” attitude, but you will need to hire someone to repair something in the house at some point. You may not have the time or the skills to do a repair. At some point, we all hire someone for our home improvement projects or to repair something in our home.
You can find out here how and when to choose a contractor for home repairs or maintenance.
There are many different types of home improvement and repair contractors
If you want to repair your home, then you’ll hire a subcontractor. This is different from a general contractor or builder. Consider the GC to be the “generalist,” and the subcontractors the “specialists.”
A general contractor, or builder, is a person or company that builds or renovates a home or a large renovation project by hiring subcontractors. The GC coordinates a large project but does not typically provide labor to build a house. Subcontractors are responsible for this.
Types of subcontractors
You need a subcontractor if you want a particular thing in your house fixed. These subcontractors may be involved in any home project. They include, but are not restricted to:
Excavation Contractors: They provide services relating to earth moving, site preparation, and landscaping. For example, they can grade and dig footings or prepare areas for landscaping.
Concrete Contractors will pour concrete for floors, foundations, driveways, walkways, footings, and more.
Framing contractors build the framework of the project. This is also known as the bones or frame of a home.
Roofing Contractors: They install roofing materials like shingles, flashings, rubber roofing, and more.
Plumbing: Plumbers install in-floor heating and handle water and drainage lines.
HVAC: HVAC contractors can cover all your heating and cooling requirements, including HVAC unit replacement and installation, as well as service.
Electrical: The scope of electricians includes the installation of electrical supplies for a particular project.
Finish Carpenters: Finish carpenters are those who install millwork, trims, moldings and doors.
Drywall hangers can be used to hang drywall as well as prepare it for painting.
Painters are available to take care of all your painting needs. This includes final drywall preparation and caulking prior to painting.
Flooring: Installers can take care of a wide range of flooring requirements, including hardwood and carpeting.
Note: This is a list of general subcontractor capabilities and services. It may not reflect directly the capabilities or service offered by your chosen subcontractor. Before hiring a contractor, discuss your project’s needs.
Handyman vs. Licensed Contractor
Many people hired to do maintenance or “handyman work” may not have a license. Some may be “guys with trucks”, such as a leaf raker or gutter cleaner. You should be cautious when hiring these people, as there are still concerns about workmanship and liability. However, you will not have the same legal protection that you would have if you hired a licensed contractor. Avoid the temptation and only use licensed contractors.
Role of the General Contractor
If you hire a GC they will “hold” the contracts of these subcontractors. This means that they are working for the GC, and under contract with them. The contract would be with the GC and not with the subs.
The GC earns money by re-marking up subcontractors’ cost as a percentage (common), or as a one-time lump sum (not as common). This professional fee covers the scheduling and payment of subcontractors, supervision of construction, dumpsters, porta-johns and insurance.
Determining When to Hire a Contractor
You now know how to differentiate between a general and subcontractor. It is time to decide which one you will use for your project. The decision will ultimately be yours and you’ll need to evaluate the following criteria.
You Comfort Level with the Task
- Am I confident that I can make (or at the very least, try) this repair?
- What steps do I need to follow to complete this project?
- What am I already familiar with and what do I need to learn?
- What tools do I need to complete this project?
- Will I be able to finish this project in the future?
- What part of my daily routine will I be forced to give up during this job?
- What are the acceptable consequences if I take longer than expected to complete the project?
Can I afford to hire a contractor at a higher cost?
Can I afford to hire a contractor? (Don’t forget about budgeting for materials and tools, as well as tool rentals and purchases)
Answering “no”, to any one of the questions above, is a good way to be safe. Hire a contractor. You should try to do it yourself if you answered yes to all of them. This is the only way you can gain confidence and experience.
You may need a building permit if you are planning to do more than a simple repair. For example, adding new electrical circuits to your home or adding a bathroom. For most home repairs, you don’t require a building permit. However, you might need one for “new work”, especially in the areas of electrical, heating, air conditioning, and plumbing. Some permits will specify that only a licensed general contractor can perform the work in order to protect public health, safety, and welfare. It may also be necessary for the local building inspector to review your work both during construction and once it is completed.
The decision to hire a professional contractor becomes simple if a license is required for the work specified in the permit. You can use the questions above to help you decide if a licensed contractor will not be required to complete the work specified in the permit.
Call The Handyman now if you’re looking for expert help in dealing with home repairs or maintenance.
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