Friday, December 5, 2014

Why You Should Hire a General Contractor Instead of a Handyman

General Contractor
For many homeowners, it can be difficult to know the difference between a general contractor and the local handyman.  With both adverstising the ability to do home repairs and remodeling, many people get confused and simply hire the first person they come across or someone advertising a special rate. Unfortunately, this can get you into a lot of trouble.  For most families, their home is their largest and most expensive asset.  As such, it is unwise to risk it by working with someone that can’t get the job done right. 

The Local Handyman
When a person puts themselves out to be a handyman, they may or may not have any professional training.  This is based on the individual but certainly none is required to fulfill this role.  They may be someone that did small jobs here and there and decided to go into business for themselves.  Additionally, many handymen are not licensed or bonded as a contractor.  This means that if they don’t finish the job or do it incorrectly, there is no bond to go after. They can work by themselves or as part of a franchise. 

The General Contractor
In order to become a general contractor, you must go through training. In fact, many general contractors have either an associate or bachelor degree in construction management.  After obtaining this classroom training, most will then enter an apprenticeship program or work as an assistant to gain on the job experience before becoming an official general contractor.  This is a high ranking position within the construction industry because a general contractor knows how to complete the work but more importantly, coordinates it.  A general pulls together all of the other tradesmen to get the job completed correctly, on time, and on schedule.  For example, they coordinate the electrician, plumber, carpenter, and tile worker for a bathroom remodel.  A general contractor is also bonded and insured in order to provide additional protection for homeowners. 

The difference between a handyman and general contractor are vast.  It would be similar to working with someone trained in first aid and a certified nurse or doctor.  One has the skills necessary to tackle basic and common issue while the other is trained to handle more complicated cases and understand all aspects of what must be done.  As a homeowner, it is important to hire someone that you can trust to get the job done correctly so when interviewing people, be sure to ask if they are a general contractor. 

It is also important to note that when a company is bonded and insured, you have protections under the law.  If, for example, you hire someone to remodel your kitchen and they start, but never finish, you can go after their bond. General contractors have one, so this can give you additional confidence. Most handymen, do not have a bond so if they don’t finish the job your best option will be to pursue them in small claims court.  This is one additional reason you should work with a general contractor for any major home repair or remodel.