How to choose a professional for your remodeling project


With so many home improvement shows on TV today, it is easy to get inspired and get some great ideas of how you can improve your home. But once you’re ready to start some of those projects you may be asking yourself who’s the right person for this job. Is this something you can do yourself? If you’re thinking that this is a project that is beyond your capabilities or maybe you don’t have the time to do it yourself who do you hire, a handyman or licensed contractor?

Here are some things you should consider as a homeowner so you can make the right decision for your remodeling project.

What type of project are you doing?

Major remodeling – Some modifications require a permit and you need a licensed contractor to perform this work. These type of projects include bathroom remodels, kitchen remodels and other major home projects that involve structural improvements, electrical, plumbing, and heating modifications. If you’re working with a licensed contractor they usually handle the permit process.

If your home project falls into this category and your contractor/handyman suggests that you don’t need a permit, this could be a red flag. Do your due diligence and check with your local building department yourself.

Why is a permit important?

I know what you’re thinking is a permit really necessary I’m just remodeling my bathroom. Don’t think of a permit as a hassle, but a way to check your contractor’s work and make sure their work meets the building code. Building codes ensure that your home will be safe for your family and any future families who live there. An inspection can guard against mistakes and ensure proper craftsmanship.

When do you need a permit?

You likely don’t need a permit if you are doing minor cosmetic improvements in your home, either by yourself or a handyman. However, you will likely need a permit if you plan to:

  • Install a new bathtub or shower or convert a bathtub to a standing shower.
  • Move a load-bearing wall.
  • Adding a new door or window opening.
  • Relocating a sink.
  • Installing new electrical wiring.
  • Change the footprint of your home.

You likely won’t need a permit if you are:

  • Replacing and installing flooring – going from carpet to laminate, or tile. Any changes to flooring that doesn’t affect the structure.
  • Updating and/or replacing doors or window without altering the structure.
  • Updating countertops.
  • Replacing existing cabinets without structural changes.

Basically, if you are installing plumbing or electrical fixtures, i.e. toilets, sinks, faucets or lights and are not planning to relocate any of these, then permits are not likely required. So it is probably ok to use a handyman for these types of minor projects.

Requirements for licensed contractors:

A licensed contractor has done an apprenticeship, worked in the field and has taken exams and registered with their local state, county, and city licensing departments. That makes them licensed by the state and they will be insured.

The bottom line is you should do your homework when contracting with a professional to complete a home remodeling project. Ask if permits are necessary, ask for references. Ask about warranties, a licensed contractor will be required to provide you with a one year warranty. Research the company check their licenses if you have a major home remodeling project you want a professional that will stand behind their work.