When Should You Hire a Contractor?
Your next home project could benefit from a professional's touch.
Certain home projects require more help than others. That's why it's important to know what kinds of repairs you can do yourself, and which ones call for a general contractor. "Homeowners hire a contractor when they want to do a major construction or renovation project around their home, like a kitchen remodel, home addition, pool, or outdoor project," explains Paul Dashevsky, co-founder of GreatBuildz, a matchmaking service that connects homeowners with vetted general contractors. "Although some television shows might make it seem easy-ish to remodel on your own, I strongly suggest against it for the average person."
Along with creating a budget and a plan for your home project, a contractor helps oversee and manage every aspect of the process, from demolition to cleanup. "Not only are contractors trained on installations, but they also have the people and connections to make a project as efficient as possible," says Joe Raboine, Director of Residential Hardscapes at Belgard. "That knowledge and experience can provide peace of mind to the homeowner, so they can focus on other key areas of their lives."
Curious about which types of home projects actually require a contractor? We asked Dashevsky and Raboine for their advice and here's what they had to share.
Identify minor repairs.
When faced with a home project that is mostly cosmetic in nature, such as painting a room or switching out a light fixture, our experts say that your best bet is to call a handyman—not a general contractor. "For minor repairs, like hanging a ceiling fan or replacing a faucet, a homeowner may want to hire a small 'one-man' contractor or even a service such as Handy, Thumbtack, or TaskRabbit," he says.
Determine if a single-trade contractor is necessary.
According to Dashevsky, major home repairs, such as a broken water heater, damaged roof, or an ineffective AC system, require a single-trade contractor. "Always hire a contractor for major projects and for any repairs that are beyond your expertise and/or comfort level," he explains. "Single trade contractors, who specialize in a specific part of a construction like plumbing, are widely available and relatively easy to find locally or through an online service."
Know when to hire a general contractor.
For larger home projects that require multiple trades, like a bathroom or kitchen remodel, our experts say you'll need to call a general contractor. "Projects that require multiple trades, such as demolition, plumbing, painting, tile, and carpentry, call for a general contractor," Dashevsky says. "Most homeowners will not want to seek out and hire each of these trade professionals individually, so their best bet is to just hire a general contractor to handle the entire project."
Permit and code requirements call for contractors.
To ensure a home project is in compliance with local regulations and building codes, Raboine says it's smart to hire a general contractor. "There are often permit and code requirements required in multi-trade projects," he explains. "If a homeowner isn't doing a project up to code, they may end up having to hire a contractor to redo it, which will be more costly than if they had just started with a contractor in the beginning."
When it's okay to do your own repair.
With a little online research, our experts say that homeowners can easily tackle some minor home repairs, like caulking around tile or windows or fixing a leaking toilet, without the help of a contractor or handyman. "Small projects are perfect for people that like to tinker with home repairs," Dashevsky says. "Just be cautious of items that seem like they're appropriate for a novice, but can often come out looking poorly if you've never done them before, like hanging wallpaper, installing laminate flooring, or tiling a backsplash."