Q: I recently bought my first home, and since moving in I’ve noticed a few things that need to be repaired. As a renter, I would notify my landlord, but as a new homeowner, I’m not sure who to hire. How do I know who to call for home repairs, and how can I ensure that the chosen service provider is trustworthy?
A: When it comes to home repairs, choosing the right professional for the job is key. But figuring out who to call for home repairs doesn’t have to be a difficult or stressful experience. If multiple repairs need to be taken care of, one option is to reach out to a general contractor. Home repair contractors can oversee the entire project and coordinate various tasks to make sure everything is completed correctly. For repairs such as electrical work, plumbing, roofing, HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning), and other specific tasks, it’s best to contact professionals who specialize in those areas. For minor home repair services and maintenance tasks, hiring a handyman can be a practical choice, since these pros are skilled in a wide range of home maintenance and repairs and can efficiently handle various repair jobs.
For exterior home repairs, such as fixing damaged siding, roofing, or fencing, it’s best to call a professional who is experienced in handling outdoor repair work. If emergency home repairs are needed, such as for burst pipes or severe structural damage, it’s crucial to contact an emergency repair service right away to prevent further damage to the property. Those who need mobile home repairs may want to consider contacting contractors who are experienced in working with mobile homes and understand the unique requirements of mobile home structures. And when an appliance malfunctions, home appliance repair technicians can help get them back in working order.
Purchasing a home warranty (also referred to as insurance for home repairs) from one of the best home warranty companies (such as American Home Shield and AFC Home Club) can help homeowners save money on repairs to appliances and major home systems. Some home warranty companies will even send their own technicians to do the repair, simplifying the hiring process.
Another option is to ask for personal recommendations from friends, family members, or neighbors who have had similar repair work done. Checking local listings can also be helpful to identify contractors or services operating locally. When vetting professionals, it’s a good idea to obtain multiple quotes; check references and read reviews; and make sure the service providers are licensed, insured, and reputable; this can help ensure a smooth and professional repair experience. Proactive home repairing and maintenance can save time and money in the long run by preventing major problems.
Who to call for home repairs will depend on the nature of the project as well as the extent of repairs that are needed. For minor issues such as appliance repair or drywall patching, a handyman may be the go-to repair person.
For minor home repairs, a handyman can be an excellent option. These pros know how to handle a wide variety of small repairs around the house and can skillfully take care of small plumbing and electrical jobs, outdoor chores, appliance repairs, and drywall patching. They can also fix leaky faucets, replace light fixtures, and handle other similar tasks. For more significant or specialized home repairs, such as for roofing, HVAC, structural problems, or for extensive plumbing or electrical issues, it’s recommended to call a professional who specializes in that particular area. When hiring a handyman, homeowners can choose a local independent contractor or hire through one of the top handyman services. While hiring a handyman from an established company often guarantees that the handyman will be vetted and insured, independent handymen tend to charge a lower hourly rate. It’s worth doing the due diligence of comparing a few different options to find the best fit.
Roof repair is typically best left to roofing professionals who have access to the appropriate materials and can carry out the job safely.
While a handyman may be able to replace shingles or temporarily patch a minor leak, it’s a good idea to hire a roofer for most roof-related repairs. Roof repair is a complex task that will generally need to be handled by professionals who have the relevant expertise, tools, and safety equipment. Missing or damaged flashing, roof leaks, cosmetic issues, hail damage, and complete roof replacement are all tasks that are best left to professional roofers. Roofers are trained to work safely high above the ground and have the right gear to prevent accidents and injuries. They also have the knowledge and experience to identify the root cause of roofing issues and spot potential problems that untrained individuals might miss, ensuring that the repairs are done correctly to prevent future damage. The best roofing companies have access to high-quality materials, and they often provide warranties on their work, which can give a homeowner peace of mind that future repairs won’t break the bank. Roofing professionals also have liability insurance, which protects homeowners from financial liability in case of accidents or injuries during the repair process.
A qualified flooring contractor can take care of refinishing, repairing, or replacing floors.
A qualified flooring contractor is a professional who specializes in various aspects of flooring services, including refinishing, repairing, and replacing floors. These pros have experience with different types of flooring materials, such as hardwood, laminate, tile, vinyl, carpet, and more. Flooring contractors can also fix various problems with existing floors, such as replacing damaged tiles, fixing loose floorboards, repairing scratches or gouges in hardwood, or patching sections of carpet. For hardwood floors, a flooring contractor can provide refinishing services to restore the floor’s appearance and protect it from daily wear and tear. This can involve sanding the surface of the floor and applying a new finish. If the flooring is being replaced, a professional from one of the best flooring companies can recommend appropriate materials and ensure a proper and precise installation.
HVAC specialists are best equipped to deal with problems related to a home’s heating and cooling systems.
HVAC specialists are the best-equipped professionals to handle issues related to a home’s heating and cooling systems. This can include anything from repairing a furnace that isn’t heating to troubleshooting why a home’s AC smells musty. HVAC technicians have specialized knowledge and training in the design, installation, maintenance, and repair of heating and cooling equipment. HVAC specialists can diagnose problems, recommend appropriate solutions, and perform regular inspections to make sure the systems are functioning efficiently and safely. By relying on HVAC specialists, homeowners can ensure that their home remains comfortable and energy efficient throughout the year. If there are any issues with an HVAC system, it’s recommended to contact one of the best HVAC companies.
Some projects require licensed professionals who are qualified to perform the task at hand. For example, homeowners will want to hire a licensed electrician for any repair projects that include electrical work.
Home improvement projects often require adherence to local building codes and regulations. Licensed professionals know these codes and will make sure the project meets all the local legal requirements. They will also be able to help with obtaining any necessary permits. When starting a home improvement project, it’s crucial for homeowners to research and find licensed professionals with excellent reputations in their respective fields. Hiring unlicensed or inexperienced individuals to perform specialized repair jobs may lead to legal issues, fines, and potential liabilities for the homeowner.
Electrical work is one type of repair that is subject to specific regulations since mistakes or oversights have the potential to lead to severe consequences, such as fires or electrical shock. It’s best to hire an electrician for issues such as troubleshooting power outages, fixing burned outlets, replacing wiring, or installing new fixtures. Licensed electricians have undergone training and shown competence in their field. They are knowledgeable regarding safety regulations and protocols, which reduces the risk of accidents and potential hazards during an electrical project. They also have the expertise and experience to deliver high-quality work. Their skills and training ensure that the project will be completed correctly and efficiently.
It’s a good idea to ask contractors for proof of licensing and insurance before hiring for a repair project. The investment in hiring a licensed professional is worth it for many homeowners for the added assurance of safety, quality, and compliance.
It’s also wise to hire a licensed plumber for plumbing issues that are more complex than fixing a minor leak.
It might be safe to tackle a small plumbing project or hire an unlicensed handyman for minor plumbing issues. However, complex plumbing projects require the expertise of a licensed professional so homeowners avoid costly mistakes and are assured that the repair job will be done right. Licensed plumbers undergo specific training, testing, and certification processes to ensure they have the necessary knowledge and expertise to handle various plumbing jobs safely and correctly. It’s a good idea to hire a plumber for clogs, malfunctioning toilets, and emergencies such as flooding or sewer backups. A plumber will also be best suited to handle larger projects, such as replacing a broken toilet or fixing a pipe leak. Homeowners can call a local top-rated plumbing service to help with these projects.
A licensed general contractor is typically the best person to call for large-scale structural repairs, and the general contractor will hire and manage any additional subcontractors that are needed for the job.
A licensed general contractor is often the best person to call for large-scale structural repairs. General contractors have the experience to oversee and manage repair projects from start to finish. They have an understanding of construction and local building codes, and they’re skilled in ensuring the work is done correctly and up to code. Local general contractors meet specific requirements set by state or local authorities by demonstrating their competency and adherence to regulations. They typically carry liability insurance, which can protect homeowners and their property from any damages or accidents that may occur during the repair project. General contractors often have established networks of local skilled subcontractors who specialize in various trades. They can bring in the right experts for specific jobs, such as plumbing, electrical work, or specialized structural repairs. General contractors also handle the coordination and management of the subcontractors to ensure the project goes smoothly. Before making any decisions, though, there are a few important steps to follow when hiring a contractor.
- Define the project scope. Before reaching out to contractors, homeowners will want to clearly define the scope of their repair needs. This includes planning for what work needs to be done, the timeline, and any other specific requirements or preferred materials. Ironing out these details will make it easier to communicate effectively with potential contractors.
Ask for recommendations. Friends, family members, neighbors, or colleagues who have had similar work done may be able to recommend contractors they have used in the past.
- Research online. Homeowners will want to look for contractors in their local area and read reviews. It helps to pay attention to both positive and negative feedback from previous clients.
- Check licenses and insurance. Homeowners will want to make sure that the contractor is licensed to work in their area and verify that their insurance is up to date. By verifying that the contractor carries liability insurance and workers’ compensation coverage, homeowners can protect themselves from potential liabilities if accidents occur on their property during the repair project.
- Verify experience and track record. A key criterion to look for in a contractor is experience with similar projects. Checking their portfolio or asking for references to see examples of their previous work is a good place to start.
- Get multiple quotes. It’s a good idea to reach out to several contractors and request detailed quotes for the project. Contractors who offer a reasonable price with a comprehensive plan for the project are often a good bet, once homeowners have considered their experience, licensing, insurance, and customer reviews.
- Meet in person. When meeting with a prospective contractor, it’s a good idea for homeowners to discuss the project, ask questions, and assess the contractor’s communication skills and professionalism.
- Ask for references. Requesting a list of references from each contractor and taking the time to contact past clients can provide homeowners with an idea of what it would be like to work with them. Some topics to discuss with references include their level of satisfaction with the contractor, the quality of the work, and whether the project was completed on time and within budget.
- Check for complaints or lawsuits. Homeowners can research a contractor’s history with consumer protection agencies and the Better Business Bureau (BBB) to see if there are any complaints or lawsuits against them.
- Get a written contract. Once a homeowner has chosen a contractor, they will want to get a written contract that includes all the materials, project specifics, timelines, warranties, guarantees, and a payment schedule.
The process of choosing a local contractor may take some time, but it’s essential to find someone reliable and skilled to ensure a successful and stress-free repair project. Taking these steps can help homeowners make an informed decision and avoid potential issues during the repair process.
If it’s still unclear who to call for a specific home repair, consider asking for references from friends or neighbors who have hired for the same project. Homeowners who are buying or selling can also ask their real estate agent to provide a referral.
Asking for references from friends, neighbors, or real estate agents is an excellent way for homeowners to find reliable and trustworthy professionals for specific home repairs. Seeking recommendations from people who had similar repairs done can provide homeowners with valuable insights into individual experiences with various contractors or service providers. Homeowners who are in the process of buying or selling a home will often find that their real estate agent is a valuable resource. They often have connections with reputable contractors and can provide referrals based on their experience and knowledge of the local housing market. By leveraging these resources, homeowners can gather information and make a more informed decision when choosing a professional for home repair projects.
It’s crucial to ensure that any professional a homeowner hires is both appropriately licensed and insured for the type of work being done.
When a homeowner is hiring any professional to perform home repairs, whether it’s a contractor, electrician, plumber, or general handyman, it is crucial to ensure that the pro is appropriately licensed and insured. This is an essential step to protect against potential risks and liabilities. When homeowners are interviewing a professional, they will want to ask for proof of licensing and insurance before any repairs begin. This information can be verified with the relevant authorities and insurance providers to make sure the coverage is current and appropriate for the type of work being done.
The initial conversation is also a good opportunity for the homeowner to confirm the professional’s experience, qualifications, and abilities. Some red flags to look for are bad online reviews, pressure to sign a contract, no proof of insurance or licensure, large amounts of money being requested up front, lack of familiarity with materials, or refusing to commit to a timeline.
Hiring for home repairs can be an intimidating process, especially for homeowners who have never previously completed the task. For homeowners who still have questions about who to call for home repairs, the answers to these frequently asked questions may help facilitate the decision-making process.
Q. Are home repairs tax deductible?
Many home repairs are not tax deductible since the IRS considers home repairs to be personal expenses and therefore not eligible for tax deductions. Home improvements that add value to a home or prolong its life might increase the home’s cost basis, which can be beneficial when calculating capital gains tax when the property is sold. Repairs, on the other hand, maintain the property’s current condition and are not tax deductible. Additionally, for homeowners who decide to rent out a portion of their property, repairs necessary for property upkeep may qualify for tax deductions. Some other home repairs may be deductible if they can be considered improvements, including:
- Interior or exterior painting
- Leak repair
- Kitchen cabinet replacement
- Broken hardware replacement
- Filling cracks in walls or ceilings
Tax laws are subject to change, and individual circumstances can vary. It is recommended to talk to a qualified tax professional to get personalized advice regarding potential tax deductions related to home repairs.
Q. Do contractors charge for estimates?
Typically, contractors don’t charge for estimates on smaller jobs such as painting, window washing, or lawn services that don’t require extensive consultation or design work. Small businesses and independent contractors usually offer complimentary home repair estimates. If a contractor does charge for an estimate, the fee is often applied to the final bill.
Q. What’s the difference between a technician and a handyman?
The difference between a technician and a handyman lies in the level of expertise, the scope of work, and the type of tasks they perform. Technicians possess specialized knowledge and skills, focusing on technical tasks in a specific field, while handymen offer a more generalized set of skills for handling various maintenance and repair jobs. When it comes to more complex or industry-specific tasks, a technician is often the best choice, while a handyman is excellent for general household repairs and simpler maintenance work.
Q. How much do home repairs cost?
The overall price for home repairs depends on two key factors: the complexity of the job and the extent of work that’s required. A minor plumbing leak might only cost a few hundred dollars to repair, while a major repair such as replacing the water service line could reach into the thousands. Small electrical repairs can cost from $140 to $420, while larger jobs could range from $2,000 to $6,000. Some of the most common home repairs range in price from $100 to $5,000.
|Home Repair||Average Price Range|
|Water heater||$300 to $5,000|
|Water damage||$3.75 to $7.50 per square foot|
|Plumbing||$100 to $2,000|
|Sewer line||$408 to $3,708|
Q. Can you be your own general contractor?
In an attempt to reduce costs, homeowners may be tempted to take on the role of general contractor. Although this approach may succeed occasionally, its success depends on the homeowner’s level of experience, management skills, and the complexity of the project. Hiring a professional general contractor to oversee a repair project often leads to timely and efficient completion.