How Do I Know When I Need A Handyman And When I Need A Contractor?

If the projects around your house are starting to pile up, it may be time to hire a professional to get the work done. A small crack in the ceiling, a small drip from a pipe, a broken cabinet, a shifting toilet bowl, or a loose railing may individually be something you can live with, but as these minor repairs build, they can drive you crazy.

It may be useful to start compiling a list of items in disrepair so that none are forgotten. This list will also be useful to identify the type of professional you may need to get this work done. Perhaps the items on your “to do list” can be performed by a qualified and insured handyman, or you may need the services of a licensed contractor.  In some cases, you may even need to hire a licensed electrician, plumber or HVAC technician.

Most homeowners have small projects that pile up for years.  We always say we will get to it when we have time, but that rarely happens. Before you know it, a small fix or two, becomes days-worth of work that needs to be completed.

As with any home project, it is important to select a company that is insured, even if the work is being provided by a handyman. If the company isn’t insured, you could be financially liable if any damages occur, or if anyone gets hurt in your home. 

An added benefit is to find a handyman that is licensed and insured, as their licenses can be checked with the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA). A business that is licensed by the DCA is registered with New York City.  They have produced proof of insurance, have successfully completed a licensing test, have agreed to uphold consumer contract requirements enforced by the City, and must maintain the current address for their business with the agency.

Typically large projects like kitchen or bathroom remodels, additions, the relocation of walls and room entry ways, window and door replacements, roofing, the renovation or installation of a new deck, or the refinishing of a basement, require a licensed home improvement contractor. In many cases some of these projects also require permits. 

Smaller projects can be handled by a qualified and insured handyman. Often handymen charge less than a contractor because many small projects do not require additional laborers, heavy duty equipment and overall, these companies tend to have less overhead costs. 

Handymen are very well versed in a variety of small tasks since they are exposed to many different types of challenges on a daily basis. A handyman can paint, install a new door lock, re-grout a bathtub, tile a back splash, replace a countertop, repair a small crack or hole in a wall or ceiling and clean up an overgrown yard. 

Before hiring a handyman, take the time to review their businesses on line or search websites like Houzz, Porch, Angies List and Yelp to see what others are saying about the company.  Ask if you can check their references by contacting other clients, and see if there are any complaints with the Better Business Bureau. It is important to choose a handyman that you are comfortable with because you will be working closely with them around your home.  

If someone comes knocking on your door who states they are a handyman and can help you with some projects around the house, do not let them in.  Ask them to place a business card in your mailbox, then check their qualifications and reputation. Many out of state contractors, and out of work people go door to door looking for homes that need a little TLC in hopes of finding a homeowner that will hire them. In many cases, these individuals are not competent, are unlicensed, have no insurance, and may be on a search for their next victim.

When hiring a handyman, make sure to ask for a written agreement that details the job, the cost and the payment schedule, and make sure to get a guarantee in writing. Be wary of handymen, or contractors, that try to ask for full payment before doing any work.

The risks of hiring an unlicensed and uninsured handyman or contractor run deep. Utilizing an unlicensed and uninsured company can leave you and your family exposed to fraud, inadequate workmanship and potential harm. Typically these companies do not carry General Liability or Workers Compensation insurance because of the expense which they cannot afford to carry.  As they are not licensed, no one is checking.  

For any questions about any home services or your next remodeling project, you can contact NARI-HIC of Staten Island by e-mail at narihic@gmail.com.

Michael DeFillippo – President     Handyman For You Home Improvement Co.

(347) 683-0792   www.handymanforyou.net