Do You Need a Handyman or Contractor?

When considering a remodel many customers are confused whether they should use a handyman or a licensed contractor. Here are a few factors to consider before making your choice.

handyman or contractor

Handyman

A handyman is a person who is good with working with their hands in many different facets. They are great for smaller jobs around the house; such as cleaning gutters, repairing widows, painting, small renovations, or a honey-do list for example. Most are well qualified to perform these tasks and some are even retired contractors. A handyman can be a great choice for your project because they can save you time and money but there are some disadvantages. For example, a handyman may be able to execute electrical and plumbing projects but in Massachusetts you are required to have have a license. The cost of a handy man will probably be cheaper than a contractor because of less overhead, but you as a consumer has less recourse if something goes wrong with the project. Ultimately, the jobs performed by a handyman in your home should be tasks that you could probably do yourself but do not have the time or motivation.

Contractor

If your project is large or extensive you should hire a HIC (Home Improvement Contractor) licensed contractor. Any job such as a home addition, bath remodel, kitchen remodel, finished basement, sun room, or any large project should be handled by a professional. These large project usually have many facets to the job that require precise plans and time schedules. A good contractor, especially a design/build company, will be able to provide you with not only a detailed schedule but also a detailed written quote. Bigger remodeling projects, most of the time, require some other type of licensed professional such as plumber or electrician to perform duties. Most reputable contractors have a list of subcontractors they regularly work with regularly and trust to get the job done right.

Both handymen and a contractors have similar abilities and are useful to homeowners in different ways but the question of which one to hire is basically answered by the size and scope of work of your project.

Choosing the Correct Entry Door for Your Home

The entry door is the first thing people notice when walking up to your home. Your entry door not only provides security, it also can effect energy efficiency and add to curb appeal.  Replacing an old door will also pay you back, it has one of the highest ROI for home improvement projects in the Springfield, MA area (according to Remodeling Magazine). If you decide it is time to replace that old entry door you first need to look at the different options such as wood, fiberglass or steel. Then contact your local remodeler to get more information and to have it professionally installed.

Wood Entry Door

wood entry door
Wood Entry Door: Pella

Pros:

Solid wood doors are stylish, unique and overall have a very attractive appearance. Wood will never rust like a steel door, is good at controlling noise and can be trimmed to perfectly fit any frame.

Cons:

Wood doors do not hold up particularly well to the elements, so maintenance is required to keep the door looking new.  Painting and sealing is required, if the door is not sealed properly can be susceptible to moisture which can cause rot, warping or splitting.

Steel Entry Door

Pros:

Steel doors are filled with a polyurethane foam which provide excellent R-Value which keeps energy costs down. They provide superior security, are easy to maintain and will not rot, warp or split. For consumers concerned about price, steel entry doors are the most economical choice.

Cons:

Steel doors of inferior quality can dent easily and rust over time, they can’t be fitted to the door frame, and can be more difficult to install. Since the thermal conductivity of steel is higher than wood or fiberglass, steel doors can feel exceptionally hot or cold in extreme temperatures.

Fiberglass Entry Door

fiberglass entry door
Fiberglass Entry Door: Therma-Tru AccuGrain

Pros:

Fiberglass entry doors are becoming a very popular choice for homeowners. They can offer the look of real wood (see Therma-Tru AccuGrain models) with much more upside. They stand up to the elements, will not warp or split, has a high R-Value (about 5X the insulating value), and most have a limited lifetime warranty.

Cons:

Fiberglass only comes in a few standard sizes and cannot be trimmed to fit openings, and usually runs more expensive than wood or steel.

5 Questions to Ask Before Choosing a Contractor

Choosing a contractor that is reputable, capable and trustworthy is the most important factor in any remodel.  The right contractor is the one that will provide quality craftsmanship and reduces or eliminates unexpected costs or emotional anxiety. Before you make this critical decision take a look at these 5 questions to ask to ensure you will choose the best contractor for your remodeling project.

How long has the contractor been in business in this area?

Paradis Remodeling Contractors
Paradis Remodeling and Building
Serving Western, MA since 2003

Supporting a local remodeling company is great for your local economy and essential when choosing a contractor. A business that has been crafting their trade locally for more than 5 years should have a network of reputable suppliers and subcontractors, and a list of previous clients that could provide vital information.

Can you provide references?

Any reputable contractor should have an extensive list of references. They should provide you with a list that not only includes previous customers, but also subcontractors and suppliers. Getting information from previous customers will give you an idea of how the contractor treats clients. The information you acquire from subcontractors and suppliers will reveal the contractor’s professional reputation. 

Who will be running the project?

Many times the person you sit down with to discuss and eventually bid your project is not the person who will be doing the construction work. There will most likely be a lead carpenter who will oversee everyone that will be working in your home, including the subcontractors. Design/Build contractors will do a handoff meeting where you and the salesperson will do a sit down with the lead carpenter so you can get better acquainted.

Can you provide a timeline?

Any good contractor should be able to provide you with a detailed timeline for your project, more than just a start and completion date. It will give you an idea of the steps for the entire project, and let you know if things are slowing down by a couple of days. Although, the timeline will is not always exact, sometimes there are bumps in the road that may slow down a project that are of no fault of the contractor.

Do you itemize your bid?

Many contractors provide a written bid that is very vague, with only a bottom line price for your project. This can be very confusing and leave you in the dark about the specifics of the job. A detailed, itemized bid will provide you with the cost of every aspect of the project so you know exactly what you are paying for.

Doing a major or even a minor remodel can be a very taxing ordeal. Choosing the right contractor for you is the first, and most important, step in the process. Sit down with a few different contractors, ask them these important questions and consider carefully which one is right for you. If you are located in Western, MA contact Paradis Remodeling and Building, we will be glad to meet for a free consultation and answer any question you may have about your project.