As a homeowner planning a remodel and looking to save a little money, you may be asking, “can a handyman do a remodel job?” If you’re a handyman looking to bid on a renovation project you may be asking the same thing.
A professional handyman may be allowed to perform remodel jobs in some states, dependent on state and local licensing guidelines. Generally, handymen can do basic remodel work that is primarily cosmetic (e.g. painting, finish carpentry) or within a limited budget set by the state or city.
In the first quarter of 2021, remodeling expenditures were at a whopping $353 billion. It is essential to do the job right the first time with an expense that high.
The difference between a handyman renovation project and a general contractor project hinges on whether the project requires a license.
Disclaimer: This article is not legal advice. You should consult your local building regulations and a qualified attorney for legal advice.
Remodeling Guide for Homeowners and Handymen
In the U.S., about 13 million people suffer injuries every year in home repair accidents. Homeowners who attempt to complete DIY remodels may suffer from power tool accidents, toxic fume inhalation or electric shock. To prevent accidents, hiring a person who understands the ins and outs of remodeling is recommended.
Most general contractors have a copy of their state license in their portfolio. In some states, licensing may require a contractor to hold a surety bond, put up cash without a bond broker or have liability insurance coverage.
Before deciding if you have a handyman renovation project or a contractor project, you should think about the tasks. If your renovation involves repainting the kitchen and fixing a leaky faucet, you can use a handyman, not a contractor. A handyman can even install your new light fixtures.
However, if you want to fix the circuit breaker, you will need an electrician because those repairs often require licensing and can cause severe injuries if something goes wrong.
A handyman can hang art in your home and fix broken appliances.
When hiring a contractor or handyman, always check for references and complaints.
Before starting a project, you need to consider your state and municipality’s laws. Since there are limitations to what you can do, you need to be aware of the law if a homeowner asks you to do work outside your legal limits, like plumbing or electrical.
If you finish a renovation without a license or permit and the home floods or a fire starts, the customer’s insurance will not cover the renovation. To learn more, you can search for construction laws within your city, along with handyman exemptions.
Different states may have other laws. For instance, in Utah, you can repair up to $3,000, but in California, the limit is less than $500.
In addition to the jobs you complete, you also need to consider what you offer.
If you market your business to finish a renovation project for which you need a license, you may face tickets or other penalties. You may also need to state that you are a handyman and not a contractor in your advertisement.
Remodeling Projects for Homeowners
Your local municipality issues permits based on the city’s ordinances. There is no federal building code, so each city has its own regulations. In some cities, there may be a 1% charge for the construction cost to receive a permit or licensing.
Without the proper license, your remodeling project may be stalled or stopped. If a lender finds out a remodel project was completed without securing permits, it may refuse to advance a loan. As a worse consequence, you may face fines or have to tear down the remodel.
During a bathroom remodel, handymen or homeowners may require a permit. Generally, bathroom remodels include changes to the electrical work and plumbing. In some cases, bathroom remodel permits may require an inspection beforehand and afterward.
A handyman may need help with a remodel when it comes to:
- Changing the ventilation system
- Demolishing a non-load-bearing wall
- Moving sinks or running new drain lines
- Undertaking any project that costs over $5,000
Simple remodels that include changing the paint, wallpaper or other cosmetic changes may not require a permit or general contractor.
A handyman renovation project may look like changing the kitchen cabinets and replacing the faucets. Minor changes can make a significant difference in the appearance of a kitchen. Some jobs a handyman may be able to handle in a kitchen include:
- Repainting the cabinets
- Installing new flooring
- Hanging art and new curtains or shades
In some homes, the water heater may be in a closet within the kitchen. If your remodel includes a water heater replacement, you may require a plumber.
Understanding the Difference Between Handymen and General Contractors
General contractors and handymen handle different projects, with contractors having licenses to take more extensive and expensive repairs. For significant kitchen remodels, it may cost you as little as $20,000 or as much as $131,000. Often, overhauls may go beyond the price limit handymen are allowed to work on.
Understanding the difference between a handyman and a general contractor can help you determine who is best for the project.
What Is a Handyman?
A handyman may or may not hold a special license to perform construction-related work. They generally perform small jobs that include minor household repairs and cosmetic improvements.
When asking, “can a handyman do a remodel job,” you have to consider the project’s scope. Anyone can say he or she is a handyman and many will be capable of minor household repairs. But not all will be capable of more substantial projects or those that require specific skills, such as finish carpentry.
Handymen perform a variety of household tasks but generally have a specialty. For instance, some handymen may be trained in removing outdoor mold, painting or doing minor plumbing repairs.
What Is a General Contractor?
Contractors have a background and often specialized training in construction to receive a general contractor license.
When it comes to construction projects, general contractors tend to oversee the entirety of the job. A general contractor may schedule and supervise subcontractors as well as comply with building codes.
A contractor receives his or her license after passing an examination in many states. They also often have to undergo background checks and not have any outstanding contracting grievances.
Licensed general contractors have specific licensing requirements based on the state.
Make Sure You Have Adequate Licensing
Can a handyman do a remodel job? As you may notice, the answer is not black and white.
The scope of a handyman’s abilities depends on the professional’s expertise and the laws within your city and state. A handyman may still help with a major renovation if a licensed contractor performs significant remodeling.
Avoid trouble with the law by ensuring that every remodeling project is legal and that those carrying out the work have adequate licensing to cover the job. In addition to licensing, always check the handyman or contractor’s background to ensure that he or she does high-quality work.
Recommended: Does a Handyman Need a License?