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Remodeling: Never Hire Your Handyman Friend or Relative

By Bob Clancy



Perhaps you’re interested in remodeling your home but you’re on a limited budget. You may have a friend or relative who’s performed simple repairs for you, such as plastering or painting, and they offer to do your home remodel for much less than what an established contractor might charge. You’re thrilled - until your roof starts leaking or your wiring fails. When remodeling your home, it’s never a good idea to hire your handyman friend. Many unforeseen - and potentially costly and dangerous - problems can arise, spelling trouble for your home, your personal safety, and your friendship with the individual who does your home remodel.

Your friend probably doesn’t have a contractor’s license.

For any home remodeling project, always make sure the people involved hold valid contractor’s licenses. In most areas, it is illegal for someone to substantially add to or modify your home without such a license. Throughout your home remodel, you’ll want to know that the contractor is experienced and legitimate. Just because your friend is able to do simple repairs doesn’t mean he’s qualified to gut your kitchen or annex rooms. It may be tempting to want to hire a friend for the work because you know and trust him. But just because he’s your friend doesn’t mean he has the experience and skills to do a large-scale project, despite his assurances to the contrary. Additionally, if a major problem arises such as on the job injury or unforeseen structural damage, you may be "on the hook” if your friend has no insurance coverage.

Your friend may have a little knowledge in many areas but is probably not a specialist.
Many people who are handy around the house have a bit of experience doing many types of repairs and projects. These people, however, are rarely experts in one field. When you’re remodeling, you’ll want to hire individuals who are specialists and know their areas of expertise inside and out. More than likely, your handyman friend will know "a little of this and a little of that.” In fact, your handyman friend will probably not end up being very handy when serious, complex problems arise with your remodeling project. In the long run, you’ll end up not only wasting time but also money when you have to call in a professional to complete the work.

Hiring a friend to do your home remodeling can be dangerous.

Home remodeling projects often involve not only the removal and construction of new walls but also rerouting electrical wiring and perhaps plumbing. If your handyman friend isn’t experienced in these areas, how will you know your home is safe? Sure, you may save money in the short run, but you’ll also risk the chance of your home being damaged, as well as the possibility of dangerous electrical fires and plumbing problems. For any home remodeling work, hire a professional contractor with a valid contractor’s license. More than likely, your handyman friend will not carry insurance for the work he is doing. Also, if safety issues arise as a result of your unlicensed contractor friend’s work, your homeowner’s insurance will not pay for any resulting damage, as the work done on your home was not "by the book.”

Hiring a friend to do your remodel can ruin your friendship.

It may go without saying, but whenever you hire a friend - whether it’s for a home remodeling project or any other type of work - you always run the risk of ruining your friendship with that individual. In the past, you may have been pleased with how your friend repaved your driveway or buffed out your hardwood floors, but what will happen if your friend doesn't do the job you expected him to do on your remodel? Even minor problems with your remodel can cause resentment and breakdowns in friendships. You may think your friendship can withstand any small issues that arise, but do you really want to run that risk? The last thing you want is for a solid friendship to end because your handyman friend chose the wrong shade of ecru tile for your kitchen floor.

If you’re considering any home remodeling project - even if the work seems minor - shop around and locate an established, licensed contractor who can provide you with verifiable testimonials from satisfied customers. Investigate the contractor’s track record with your local Better Business Bureau. Ask friends and coworkers for referrals for work they’ve had done on their homes. Above all, never hire a friend for your home remodel. Your personal safety, the quality of the work, and your friendship with the individual are worth much more than the money you’ll save by hiring someone you know.

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