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Here's how to know if your home improvement job needs a pro
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Here's how to know if your home improvement job needs a pro

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Some jobs, such as shelf installations, usually don't require a trade license to complete. Make sure you know your local regulations before hiring.

Everything from that squeaky door to the leaky faucet has been getting on your nerves, and you’ve decided it’s time to take care of them all at once. Hiring a handyperson service is an excellent way to cross everything off this to-do list in a hurry.

However, even if you’ve got a reliable handyperson on speed-dial, you might not be sure if you should hire that person or a licensed trade specialist for the work. How can you tell the difference?

First up, go ahead and ask your handyperson if he or she is capable of handling it. An honest pro should be able to give a clear answer. You can also research local regulations and find out what needs a license. Many cities have their licensing requirements online or staff who will be happy to answer specific questions.

Licensing requirements vary significantly by state, but generally speaking, small jobs like fixing leaky faucets or replacing a light switch don’t require a license. However, anything that gets into the guts of the pipes or wiring is likely to need a license.

Large jobs that involve multiple workers and/or significant investment, such as a remodel or addition, usually require a licensed general contractor to oversee.

Here are typical jobs you can usually hire a handyperson to take care of:

— Replacing small electrical components, such as thermostats, light switches and outlets

— Repairing drywall

— Fixing leaks

— Hanging shelving

— Hanging doors

— Repairing woodwork

— Replacing window glass

— Wiring home theater components

Here are some examples of jobs that commonly require a licensed specialist:

— Adding a stairway

— Installing a new roof

— Installing a fireplace or wood stove

— Building a raised deck

— Installing or replacing certain plumbing fixtures such as water heaters

— Major remodeling

— Putting in new windows

— Building a retaining wall to block soil or erosion

— Any work requiring the repair or modification of the existing electrical, plumbing or gas systems

A few additional tips:

Some handy services do carry specialty licensing or have particular trades on staff, so don’t hesitate to ask if they have a plumber or electrician available for licensed work.

Whether you hire a handy service or specialty contractor, make sure it carries liability insurance and acquire whatever permits are required for the job.

Most handy service companies charge by the hour, and often their jobs take much less time than that. To get the most out of your handyperson’s time, prepare a list in advance of all the small jobs you’d like to be covered in one visit. The person you hire to fix some drywall and mount a TV might also be able to repair a leak or hang a light fixture while already at your house.

Make sure you know ahead of time who’ll be responsible for supplying materials. If you have specific materials you’d like to be used for your project, you’ll save time by purchasing them in advance and not have to be charged for the handyperson’s time to pick them up.

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