If you’re like most people, you don’t have the have the skills, time, or tools to handle home repairs yourself, which means having a handyman or contractor take care of them.  What’s the difference between these options?  How do they affect your budget?  What are the pros and cons?  Let me explain.

A handyman is a skilled professional with lots of experience working with and repairing houses, but doesn’t have a trade license.  He will have all his own equipment and tools.  But bear in mind that not every handyman is made the same. Since there’s no licensing process, there may be different levels of expertise provided by one handyman compared to another.  State law also limits their work by capping the project size to under $500.

In contrast with a handyman, an independent contractor is a licensed professional in his line of work such as electrician, plumber or painter.  He’s gone through an apprenticeship, worked and studied, and licensed by the state for the particular trade.  Contractors are usually working on large projects requiring permits.

One advantage of a handyman is their flexibility. If you need a paint touch-up on your home, minor plumbing repairs, and help installing light fixtures, a good handyman may do all 3 of those things, and you will not have to employ and coordinate 3 separate independent contractors.

In addition, your cost should be much lower. Hiring a contractor can be expensive. Where a handyman might not have the specific experience and training of a contractor, it does not necessarily mean that they cannot get the job done.  It all depends on the size and complexity of the work.

Assess The Work

A good general guideline when deciding between hiring an independent contractor or a handyman is the size of the task. In case you only need minor repairs, or some small projects which might be handled in a couple of days, a handyman may be sufficient, and will definitely be the most cost efficient option.

If it’s a larger project requiring permits, extensive changes and planning, like an addition of a room, or remodeling of an entire existing room, then you’ll have to hire a contractor.

Pay for what you need.

For small home repairs, a handyman can be a much more cost efficient, practical choice, as their charge will be much lower than the contractor. Great projects to have handymen do include patching holes in walls, replacing weather stripping, and caulking windows. Whenever you hire a contractor, you are paying for expertise and licensing, and it is an inefficient use of cash to pay for that whenever you do not need it.