Hiring a professional
Sometimes during a home
improvement project, even the most dedicated
do-it-yourself types can find themselves in
over their heads.
In fact, unless you work frequently
in "the trades" -- carpentry, plumbing,
heating/ventilation/air conditioning or residential
electrical -- you will probably find there
are some aspects of complex jobs, such as
a complete bathroom remodel or room addition,
that you don't feel comfortable doing yourself.
That's where a construction tradesperson comes in. These licensed professionals
are trained to complete your job on time, in compliance with local building codes
and within your budget. In addition, they bring a wealth of intangibles, including
knowledge of fixtures, materials and cost-saving techniques that can save you
money and headaches in the long run.
What type of tradesperson do
you need? Generally speaking, if your project
requires structural changes to your home (removing
or adding walls, roofing, foundation, etc.),
you're going to need a licensed remodeling
tradesperson with the appropriate skills.
You may want to narrow your search to those
who specialize in specific type of remodels,
such as bathrooms or kitchens.
If your project does not require
structural changes, an electrician, plumber or HVAC tradesperson will usually
suffice. If it's a major addition involving several trades, you'll likely hire
a general contractor, ideally a remodeling specialist, who typically brings in
subcontractors (or "subs") to handle the electrical, plumbing, HVAC,
flooring and other elements of the job.
Mr. or Ms. Right
How do you find a good tradesperson?
Forget the Yellow Pages; a good place to start is through referrals from satisfied
customers in your area, including family, friends and neighbors.
Jan Burchett, executive director
of the Kansas City Chapter of the National
Association of the Remodeling Industry, says
nearly half of all remodeling contracts come
through referral, while another 22 percent
come directly from word of mouth.
biggest reality in this industry is we're in the top five complaints nationwide
because we're an industry that is full of part-timers, fly-by-nighters and uninsured
people," she says. "Unfortunately, anyone who picks up a hammer thinks
they can remodel, and there is a world of difference between hammering a nail
in a wall and building a room addition or gutting a kitchen and starting it from