I’ve heard just about every story there is about handymen. Those who did a long and ugly job, then took the money and ran, and those who did a fast and professional job, not forgetting to clean up afterward.
As with any field, there are those who do a good and thorough job; people with high work ethics and good morals, with ability, with experience, who show respect to the owner. On the other hand, there are those who damage the reputation of handymen everywhere, putting their entire field to shame with their unprofessional conduct. Some of them will attempt to con the owner in various ways, even after a work contract has been signed. Of course, between those two extremes of the handyman spectrum, are many others.
When the decision is made to do renovations, obviously the hope is for it to be done in the best possible way. This is true for the owner, the contractor, and the working crew. Choosing between a private handyman or a contractor is a choice which changes with the circumstances. Some handymen, for instance, are great with drywalls and painting , but lack experience with plumbing and electricity.
As a general rule, authorized contractors will be listed in the official contractor’s book, which already puts them in a different class than a private handyman, who has no official classification. That being said, it is important to note that the mere fact that a person is listed in the official listings has nothing to do with the quality of the work which the contractor can provide. Many times, a private handyman will be able to produce excellent work, and it has nothing to do with him being listed or unlisted in any official books.
Some prefer hiring a contractor who can provide a quick response to any issue which may come to light during the renovations. A contractor has some connections and ties, and he knows the best personnel to bring in for the different tasks. On the other hand, he is more of a manager, and by definition he may not always be there when his presence is requested by the owner. Even though we may like his style and portfolio, the contractor brings in his own people, whether it is a stable or changing crew.
An independent handyman is a perfect solution for those who are interested in knowing precisely who it is that they are working with. If you get to know the person through conversation, approve of previous work he has done, and are interested in working with him, there is a good chance you will end up satisfied with him and the results he generates.
Another question which comes up often is: can we count on our friends’ recommendations regarding handymen or contractors? Yes and no. Although we do appreciate and value our friends and their opinions, each apartment and project are different and unique. The work at your friend’s house can be completely different than what needs to be done at your place. Alternatively, it is possible that your friend and the contractor or handyman had an easygoing relationship, and that your own relationship with them may be more tense and complicated. Some renovations last many days, which is why it is important to have good chemistry. This is what will lead to a successful and satisfying renovation project.
I mentioned a work contract earlier, and this is something worth paying attention to. Many cases – even when the renovations go as planned – there is some measure of inconvenience which crops up. Workmen coming and going, it’s noisy, it’s dirty, and sometimes there are confrontations with the neighbors. The work itself may be running smoothly, but there are many other factors which can cause frustrations and problems. For this reason, a work contract should be signed. Once both sides agree on certain principles, there are less chances for issues and unwanted scenarios.
What are some of the clauses which should be in a work contract?
- Deadline – the contractor should provide several dates of completion, according to the tasks. Obviously, in most cases, the job will not be done exactly on the final date. Nevertheless, it is best to put several dates in writing, in accordance with the different phases of the job. This will enable you to measure the contractor’s progress.
- Payment – also, in phases. This should be done so there is no situation in which the contractor has received most of his money before work has even begun. Furthermore, come to an agreement on payment for supplies and equipment. Normally, this is the contractor’s responsibility.
- Private and public property – in order to prevent unnecessary strife between the neighbors and the owner, it is best to designate a code of conduct for using the building’s shared property: parking spaces, elevators, hallways, etc. In other words, come to an agreement on the removal of building materials, placement of waste containers, daily labor hours, etc.
- Completion of work – come to an agreement on the process of cleaning up and organizing, once the job is done. Have it in writing, so you don’t end up with a dirty, messy, dusty house.
Those are just a few examples of several clauses which should be in your contract. They can prevent a lot of heartache and loss of money. Every contract changes according to the job which is being done, which is why there is no single standard contract. Many examples of owner-contractor agreements are available online, just tweak it according to your specific circumstances. Remember that a contract is a legal document with a certain lawful status, which in turn has an effect on the conduct or misconduct of both sides involved. Because of that, it is always best to get these things in writing. Some even demand a security check from the contractor, before work commences.
— Family Handyman mag (@Family_Handyman) May 26, 2017
Keep in mind that along the way, different changes could be made, increasing the overall cost of renovations. It is a very dynamic process. Things could happen day to day, and preparing for such occasions is imperative. It could be the discovery of a previously unknown gas or electricity line, a workman or specialist who doesn’t show up, or a spontaneous decision by the owner to upgrade to higher-grade materials. Which is why, when approaching the issue of cost appraisal, it is recommended to add some figures to the sum. While it is true that the contractor or handyman will provide you with an estimate, it does not include everything. If your budget is X, make it X+20%. True, it can only be a rough estimate, but it is a realistic one.
Before work begins, there is this fantasy of how the room or building will look after the renovations are done. Sometimes the final result is very lackluster, and sometimes they exceed your expectations.In order for reality to match your heart’s desire, it is best to have a program where the various plans will be written. This way, you can be sure that you and your contractor are on the same page, that he is aware of your wants and needs, and that he will operate in a way which will be beneficial for both sides.
Whether it is a partial or complete renovation, the contractor has the know-how, the tools, and the talent. All you need to do is make sure that the ideas and thoughts in your head are properly conveyed to the one who will be doing the actual work.
Even though there multiple headaches and complaints involved, we go through renovations for our benefit. It isn’t an easy process, whether it is a few days or a few weeks. The very fact that there is work going on in your house, is already enough of an inconvenience. While it’s true that the end result is usually worth the hassle and discomfort, the owner and contractor should be ready for the process. They should conduct themselves in such a way which will ensure as little interruptions as possible. The planning, the work, and the culmination of the renovations executed in the best possible way, and satisfy both sides.