With summer finally here, a lot of people are turning toward those home improvement projects that they have been pushing off for a while. While it may seem like a more financially responsible decision to try and complete these projects on your own, the bigger tasks might take some help from a licensed contractor.
However, It is true that some home improvement projects take little or no specialized knowledge. Things like painting walls and sealing furniture are easily within the abilities of many weekend warriors. And regular maintenance tasks—such as light electrical work, cleaning gutters, or mending fences—can also usually be easily done with a little research and know-how beforehand on best practices.
This isn’t to say that you can’t do more advanced projects, but it quickly becomes more about how much time you are willing to invest into a project over hiring someone that is already knowledgeable and experienced in those areas. In other words, how much is your time worth and how much do you enjoy learning about carpentry, plumbing, etc.?
When those scales tip the other way, it may be time to invest in a handyman or a contractor. It may be a little difficult to distinguish when a handyman vs. a contractor is needed, but below are some helpful tips on who to hire to get the job done safely and correctly when the task requirement stretches outside of your capabilities.
Before we get into how to choose between a handyman and a contractor, we should first explain the difference between the two. A handyman is a contractor who specializes in installing, altering, repairing, cleaning, and maintaining residential and commercial property. A handyman can also be categorized as a non-invasive contractor whereas a licensed contractor can be categorized as an invasive contractor.
According to the National Association of Home Appliance Contractors (NAHAC), the defined difference between a non-invasive contractor and an invasive contractor is as follows:
“A non-invasive contractor is a person who does manual labor or work requiring special knowledge and equipment for which a special permit or contract is not required in the case of a sudden unexpected change in the circumstances which makes compliance impractical.” This sounds like a really long definition, so in short, it basically means the project doesn’t require a permit to complete.
This type of contractor may perform the work on his or her own premise and disregard third-party interference. An invasive contractor, on the other hand, is a person who does work requiring special knowledge and equipment that also requires a special permit or contract to complete.
They must go through a third-party system for all building approvals before beginning to work on the project. These definitions can often be confusing, especially for people not involved in the home improvement industry.
Ultimately, the easiest way to decide whether you need a handyman or a licensed contractor is to look at the scope of your project. If you have a simple task in mind that you could perform yourself but cannot for some reason or another, then you should consider hiring a handyman to complete it. If it is a home addition or complete home renovation in Chicago that requires special permits, a licensed contractor is necessary for the job.
Now that we know the difference between a handyman and a licensed contractor, let’s talk about some of the improvement projects that actually require a licensed contractor.
In general, a licensed or invasive contractor will take on larger projects, such as home additions or major home renovations. This is because these bigger projects require building permits in order for them to be completed.
A contractor license is issued by the government and varies from state to state. In some states, there may be a special certification just for plumbers, or just for electricians.
You may also apply for a roofer contractor or a subcontractor license. In Illinois, plumbing, roofing, and electrical work all require state licensing. A license also enables the contractor to insure their business. If the contractor’s business is already insured, this could save you a lot of money down the road in case any accident takes place on the job site.
It is best to make sure all aspects of the project are insured in order to avoid any legal issues down the road. A general rule of thumb to determine what type of licensed contractor you need is to just simply look up what your state requires. If your project is going to cost $750 or more, a license is necessary to bid on that job. A contractor will need a license to work if the job, including labor and material, exceeds $2,000.
Our project coordinators at Arete are knowledgeable individuals that are educated on Illinois’s licensing requirements. When you choose to work for us, we will do all of the detailed work for you so you don’t have to worry about any surprises along the way.
On the other hand, if your project does not exceed $750 in order to complete it, but you still can’t find the time to do it yourself, that is when a handyman should be considered for hire. For example, installing doors, laying backsplash tiles, painting walls, or adding new fixtures are a variety of things that can be completed with unlicensed outside help. They’re non-invasive tasks and usually don’t break the bank to complete.
When choosing a licensed contractor, it is important to understand where you can find the most qualified people for your project. These references can help narrow down the list of appropriate contractors that can meet your needs and address any concerns you may have.
With Arete, for example, you can look at our Google and Yelp pages for any helpful reviews on what it is like to work with our team. If someone can vouch for your contractor’s experience and competence, you will likely be able to come away with a higher-quality contractor.
While some contractors have knowledgeable associates who can give you the inside scoop on features of a certain product, interactions with these professionals can be labor-intensive and require extensive training. So it’s important to know what you are getting yourself into before agreeing to hire a certain person for the job.
Another factor that can affect the selection of a contractor for your project can be the cost, but this can certainly be a factor sometimes also ruled out altogether if you are looking to invest in something substantial in order to get a bigger return.
At Arete, we are focused on the needs of our clients and how we can get them the biggest return on their investment. We make sure to ask the important questions and ensure we are understanding your vision, budget, and giving realistic expectations and advice on where you will get the most bang for your buck.
Knowing the difference among reputable contractors, electricians, and plumbers comes down to safety. First, if you are looking to get some electrical work done, it is important to know that electricians must be licensed and bonded according to state and local laws.
Electricians also have to follow specific codes when doing repair work on residential properties. If they can’t follow the codes, they won’t safely complete the job. The same goes for plumbers.
However, while it’s usually safer to hire an electrician or plumber to execute the job, it is always a good idea to have, at a minimum, structural engineers or independent contractors check the structure for safety grounds before the job begins.
Communication is also another important aspect to consider. Contractors must be timely, detailed, accurate, responsive, and flexible in the way they communicate. If a contractor delays communication or communicates inadequately before they are awarded a job, they will usually behave even worse during the project. In short, knowing who to hire in these crucial situations is paramount.
To get the job done right the first time, look for references from reputable, upstanding companies who work with contractors on similar projects. With Arete, for example, you can look at our Google and Yelp pages for any helpful reviews on what it is like to work with our team.
If someone can vouch for your contractor’s experience and competence, you will likely be able to come away with a higher-quality contractor. In addition, if you have a strong network of local contractors who are also doing jobs on similar terms or invoice the higher-end services of their peers, you will not have to shell out extortionate amounts for substandard work.
If you are searching for top-rated home contractors in Chicago, look no further than Areté Renovators. Our aim is to achieve excellence by providing the best condo and home remodeling services in Streeterville, West Loop, Lincoln Park, Lincoln Square, River North, Gold Coast, Old Town, and Roscoe Village.
Spend more time outdoors this summer and less time researching who to hire for the job. We got your back every step of the way. Get in touch with us for a consultation today! Call 773-610-4551