Angie's List: Handyman or contractor?

The question is do you need to hire a contractor or a handyman?

Here is some handy advice that should help you with that decision.

A handyman service can be a great choice for home repairs, especially for homeowners who need help with smaller jobs, or those who have a variety of projects.

Some of these tradesmen and women can even tackle complicated jobs that include electrical and plumbing work, but be sure they are licensed for those trades if it is required in your area.

Consumer Expert Angie Hicks of Angie's List said, "A good rule of thumb when deciding whether you use a handyman or general contractor depends on the size of the job. If you have small honey-do list type things that are usually billed out, for example, on an hourly rate that fits the bill for a handyman. When you're thinking about a general contractor, that's when you’re thinking of remodeling your kitchen, adding a sunroom, things like that which are longer projects that are going to involve multiple types of trade people is where the general contractor comes into play."

No matter who you hire for which job, it is always important you know exactly what you want in a project and communicate that.

Angie said, "When it comes to getting cost effective work out of your trades people you need to make sure that you outline the scope of the project at the beginning. Make sure you are communicating directly with the handyman or the contractor who is doing the work so that you can tell them if something has come up that needs to be changed. The quicker you can let them know of changed orders, the better. And then also, be sure that you specify your budget because that's where some run into trouble where they go at or slightly above their budget and then find out that they stretched themselves too far."

Anything you can purchase or organize ahead of time may save you time and money. For example, if you are willing to go to the store and purchase the bathroom faucet yourself, the company can get more done in less time.

Regardless of who you hire to help around your house, always look at three things.

1. The company's reputation. 2. Does the company have the appropriate training, license and insurance? 3. Does the company have a real address you can contact later should something go wrong?

Surprisingly, hiring a handyman may not be cheaper than hiring a specialized professional. A professional plumber may be able to diagnose and fix your problem much quicker than a handyman.

And if the project is complex at all, you might need that licensed professional rather than a generalist.
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Additional Information:

These days, contractors and handymen are very similar, especially with more contractors developing an all-around approach - making the decision on who you should hire that much more confusing.

Before you hire, make a list of what you need done. Include as much detail as you can so the company can determine if your requests are within their abilities. Have this list on hand when you call to make an appointment. Talk through your list with the handyman or contractor. Most professionals are going to tell you up front if it's a job outside their area of expertise. And, in the case of some of the larger handyman shops, knowing what jobs you need done, often determines which employee they send to your house

Who to hire? Contractor or Handyman?
• A handyman/handywoman service can be a great choice for home repairs, especially for homeowners who need help with smaller jobs, or those who have a variety of projects. Some of these tradesmen and women can even tackle complicated jobs that include electrical and plumbing work - but be sure they are licensed for those trades if it's required in your area.
• A contractor tends to concentrate on larger jobs or a more specialized field that could require a license or special certification. If you are planning a room addition or a kitchen remodel, for example, a contractor would be better suited for your project. These jobs may last several weeks or months, whereas a handyman's work may be done in just a few hours.
• Check with 'Angies List to see what your neighbors have to say about contractors, handymen, and other professionals in your area.

Regardless of who you hire to help around your house, always look at three things.

1. The company's reputation
2. Does the company have the appropriate training, license and insurance?
3. Does the company have a real address where you can contact later should something go wrong?

Angie's List tips to get the most cost-effective work from your handyman and/or contractor:

• Prepping your home may save you money - especially if the handyman/contractor charges by the hour. For example, if there's an issue with your sink, remove all the items from underneath it.
• Know what's included in the price. Ask if they charge a flat rate or by the hour. Are they charging you a trip fee?
• Anything you can purchase or organize ahead of time may save you time and money. For example, if you're willing to go to the store and purchase the bathroom faucet yourself, the company can get more done in less time.
• Hiring a handyman may not be cheaper than hiring a specialized professional: a professional plumber may be able to diagnose and fix your problem much quicker than a handyman and if it is complex at all, you might need that licensed professional rather than a generalist.


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