Located in Hillsborough, NJ
Serving Somerset County
Hunterdon County

(908) 837-9066

Small Handyman Jobs
Complete Remodeling Services
Affordable Pricing
State Licensed & Fully Insured

Lic # 13VH01719900

Home Remodeling - Improvements - Maintenance & Repairs

HOME MAINTENANCE - Handy Man or Home Improvement Contractor?

Sometimes it's a difficult decision whether to bring in a handyman or home improvement contractor. There can be a very big difference between the two in terms of experience, capabilities, and knowledge. Knowing when to use each is important.

Handyman Handywoman or Handyperson:

Looking up the definition of a handyman brings insight into the type of work this individual should be used for.

Definitions of handyman on the Web:

* a man skilled in various odd jobs and other small tasks (wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn)

* A handyman, increasingly known as a handyperson or handywoman, is a person skilled at a wide range of repairs, typically around the home. ... (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Handyman)

If your job requires the repair or replacement of an existing item, using a handyperson service may work well. This could be sheetrock repair, hanging shelving, or caulking a tub to name a few tasks. Handypersons are generally knowledgeable about a variety of small repairs and maintenance items. I've heard the term "jack of all trades" used when describing a handyman.

If you're planning on hiring a handyman or woman for your home improvement needs, you need to take the same precautions as with any contractor. Obviously, businesses are out there to make money. While I believe most companies operate within their strengths, others may take on any job that provides a paycheck. If you're going to hire anyone to tile your bathroom, renovate a basement, or install flooring, ask for several references and see his or her portfolio of completed jobs. Any quality contractor will have a portfolio that they're eager to show off.

Handypersons are thought to be cheaper than more highly skilled contractors. In most cases this is not true. Any professionally run company has overhead such as advertising, liability insurance, auto insurance, utilities bills like phone and Internet, vehicle maintenance, investment in tools. There is the weekly paycheck that everyone works. In all truthfulness, you should be cautious about a person that charges $25.00 per hour. Ever hear, "you get what you pay for"?

Make sure your contractor is both licensed and insured. If in doubt, ask to see a copy of both. You may see handymen or handywomen advertising for services that they are not legally able to do. Handypersons may be willing to install a new dedicated line for your over the range microwave. However, this is illegal. Just because they advertise this service, does not make them legally able to provide it. Here is a link to the NJ Department of Consumer Affairs. If you scroll down, you'll see just how many complaints were lodged against handymen advertising as an unlicensed plumber within this time period. http://www.state.nj.us/lps/ca/plumber/agenda/mpage_062509.htm. A good handyperson knows his or her strengths and limitations and works within both.

Over the years, the term handyman can bring up images of a shady, out of work person looking to make a few bucks. This is simply not true. Sure, as with any business, there are unreputable individuals. However, there are also very competent workers capable of providing you with a quality job. Do your homework and ask neighbors and friends who they use. Referrals can be so helpful in hiring a contractor.

Years ago, my insurance company sent out an agent to look over my operation. She asked me to open the van doors so she could look inside. After inspecting the inside of the vans, she indicated that she was impressed with the cleanliness of the inside and how everything was on the shelves. She then told me that how a company keeps their equipment tells her a lot about the company itself. I always remembered that. Think about it this way... if you open the back doors of a service truck and it's filled half way with trash and the tools are thrown on top of each other, how much pride do you think that person will take in their work?

Home Remodeling Contractor:

If you job requires improving your home to any significant degree, you're better off going to a licensed home remodeling or improvement contractor. One could say that being licensed by the state, makes the person a home improvement contractor. Perhaps by definition, yes. By experience and knowledge, maybe not. You can gather the strengths of a company through their advertising and web site. Look at the services offered and their completed jobs. Does their list of services provided and their portfolio point toward what you're looking to have done?

I've always considered a home improvement/remodeling contractor to be an individual knowledgeable in improving a home through remodeling and having the experience to professionally take on this task. They have the resources, experience and knowledge. All three are necessary. They have the right tools for the job. It's nothing for a home remodeling contractor to own several thousand dollars worth of tools.

Some remodeling contractors do not want to be bothered with small repairs or maintenance issues around the home. It may be that their business is not geared for these types of jobs. A home builder may not want to build your shed. He's very capable, but it's not his thing. His operation is geared toward larger construction. Match your contractor to your needs. Don't try to force a fit.

Sometimes you can be unsure about who to use. As an example, do you hire a plumber or home remodeling company to do your bathroom remodel. If we break down the job, you find that the actual plumbing portion is small compared to the rest of the job. The plumbing portion may actually be minor plumbing and involve mostly replacement of existing fixtures. The larger part can include sheetrock work, cement board and underlayment installation, wall and floor tiling, cabinetry and vanity installation, moulding, painting, towel bars, mirrors, medicine cabinet, light fixtures, and bathroom fan.

A home improvement contractor will provide all tasks and have the resources to have the plumbing and electrical done as part of the job. The home remodeling company's strength is the entire remodel while the plumber's strengths may be limited to the actual plumbing portion of the job. Since the remodeler can complete the bulk of the job in-house, using less subcontractors, the price may be more attractive.

A Blend Of Both:

There are companies that provide home repair, maintenance, and improvement services. This type of company will advertise accordingly. The upside to establishing a relationship with this type of company gives you the flexibility to have all your home related needs handled by one individual or company. Through time, you establish a level of trust and confidence and your contractor knows your home well.

I've personally established relationships with customer through small repairs that led go complete bathroom and kitchen remodels. These customers still call with their home repair problems. The fact that they can count on one person for all their home related issues is comforting to them.

So when you decide to have something done around your home, carefully weigh the pros and cons of the business you're about to call. Match the company to your needs. There are so many choices out there and companies have their own strengths and niches.

When you're contemplating a remodel, request the contractor in for an in-home consultation. Not the salesman, the contractor. You want the person with the experience and knowledge discussing how you're going to spend your hard earned money.


Any opinions expressed are that of the author, Thomas Libucki, and may not reflect the opinion of others, including those in the home improvement field. Anyone contemplating a home repair or improvement should thoroughly check out the contractor using all resources available to them. This may include State, County, and Township resources.

(908) 837-9066
Hillsborough NJ - Somerset County
(908) 968-0865
Flemington NJ - Hunterdon County

 

 
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