Hiring a Handyman for Your Home Remodel… What Could Go Wrong?

How to Decide If You Should Hire a Professional Contractor or a Handyman for Your Home Remodel

It’s just a little project. Your cousin’s kid is an electrician, which means he and his buddy can definitely remodel your kitchen. Your neighbor swears by this guy they found on Craigslist. Can’t beat the price!

We’ve heard all the excuses for using a handyman instead of a remodeling contractor, and we understand the temptation. Even a relatively small remodel isn’t cheap, and a handyman can easily undercut the pricing of a typical design and remodeling firm. There’s a reason for that. It’s easy for a handyman to give you an upfront discount when he doesn’t have to pay for insurance, licensing, and ongoing training. Unfortunately, if anything happens, guess who’s going to be on the line for costs? Hint, it’s not the handyman. Before you hire your cousin’s kid or that guy on Craigslist, please keep reading to learn why hiring a handyman for your San Diego home remodel could end up being the most expensive decision of your life.

Licensing

Remodeling a home requires skilled workers with lots of specialized training. You can’t just hang your sign and call yourself a contractor. Instead, you have to prove that you know what you’re doing in order to get a contracting license. This license isn’t just a piece of paper. It proves that your contractor has knows what he or she is doing and receives ongoing training to keep skills sharp.

There is absolutely no way for you to know exactly how much experience your handyman has. Maybe he’s worked on 100 projects, or maybe he watched a few hours of YouTube videos before he started knocking down walls in your home!

Licensing is also important, because it allows a contractor to purchase insurance and to pull permits. Without a license, a handyman can’t do any of these things!

Liability Insurance

Major complications, accidents, and mistakes are rare when you work with an experienced and licensed contractor (that’s what all that training and continuing education are for), but it does happen. Maybe someone damages a water pipe, which floods your home. This is not a good situation, but at least you won’t have to pay for the damage. Your contractor’s liability insurance will kick in and cover all costs to repair the damage.

A handyman is very unlikely to have liability insurance, which means that when he damages that pipe, you’ll be responsible for the flooding. Think your homeowner’s insurance will cover it? Not likely. Almost all policies include a provision that states the homeowner is responsible for all damages and injuries when a non-licensed contractor is used.

Speaking of injuries…

Worker’s Compensation Insurance

Remodeling can be dangerous work. Hammers are swinging. Saws are buzzing. All it takes is one little slip, and a worker could fall off your roof and break his leg. Who’s going to cover that hefty medical bill? Every licensed contractor is required to carry worker’s compensation insurance, which will cover all their workers on site.

Guess what happens if your handyman falls off the roof? If he doesn’t have health insurance, then that hospital bill will go to you. Again, your homeowner’s policy is very unlikely to cover injuries from an unlicensed contractor. Suddenly, your “cheap” kitchen remodel just got a whole lot more expensive.

Permits

Pulling permits is a necessary evil that is required for all but the smallest remodeling jobs. These permits allow your contractor to legally make the changes to your home. A licensed contractor has lots of experience pulling permits and working with Homeowner’s Associations to get permission to make changes. Pulling permits adds extra time to your project but also ensures that everything is done on the “up and up” and fulfills local, state, and federal building standards.

An unlicensed handyman cannot legally pull permits. This may help your project go more quickly, but it also means you are making unapproved and illegal renovations to your home. It also means that no one is checking whether your handyman is following safe building practices.

Unfortunately, this can lead to a lot of pain down the road. We’ve seen shoddy building practices lead to widespread damage that we then have to go in and fix at a huge cost to the homeowner. Worse, you may find that you have to undo or fix all the changes made by the remodeler before you can sell your home! It’s just not worth it to try and skip best practices.

Sub-Contractors

Many remodels require the use of specialists for more complex parts of the project. For example, you want to make sure a trained electrician is rewiring your home and a plumber works on any modification to the water and sewage pipelines in your home. You may even need specialists to put in certain types of flooring. An experienced design and remodeling company either has in-house specialists to perform these tasks or has developed relationships with high quality and reliable sub-contractors that they can pull in for your job. These sub-contractors either bring their own insurance or fall under the protection of the general contractor’s insurance policies, so that you remain protected against any damage or injury.

Your handyman does not have any specialists. He is the specialist who will perform all of the work regardless of whether or not he is qualified to do so. Maybe he’ll call in his cousin or brother or a friend of a friend to help him, but this new guy presents all the same problems as the handyman. You can’t know his level of training, and if anything goes wrong you’ll be on the hook for the resulting bill.

You Get What You Pay For

At the end of the day, your mother was right (as usual). You get what you pay for. A licensed and insured design and remodeling company is much more likely to have the training and expertise to provide you with a beautiful remodel that meets building codes. They are experienced in addressing surprises along the way (and there are always surprises with every remodeling project), and can scale up or scale down depending on your personal vision. Also, and most importantly of all, an established design and remodeling company has every reason in the world to exceed your expectations and deliver an amazing remodel. Their reputation is on the line with every job they take.

Here at Kaminskiy Design and Remodeling, we’ve been “building” our reputation as a top remodeling agency for over ten years. We are immensely proud of our Better Business Bureau rating, Yelp rating, Angie’s List rating, and all the amazing positive reviews we’ve gotten from our customers. Our company thrives from referrals from previous clients. We know how important it is to make sure every single customer is happy with our work.

A handyman has no reputation to protect. If the job becomes too hard or your expectations are too high, he can jump in his truck, leave, and never return. If you discover, months later, that the work was shoddy, don’t be surprised if your handyman suddenly stops picking up his phone. That’s the risk with handymen. They can always change the name of their “business” to escape bad reviews.

If you want the best remodel possible for your San Diego home – and don’t you deserve that? – then the choice is clear. At Kaminskiy Design and Remodeling, we’ve been in business since 2005. We are fully licensed and insured and have been honored to be voted “Best Home Remodeler,” and “Best Local Construction Company,” multiple years in a row by the San Diego Union Tribune. Call us today to schedule a remodel consultation.