For every job around your home, there’s a person with special talent to help make it happen. But not every job requires a pro — sometimes the talent comes from you. Good home management means knowing the difference between what you can handle, and when you need help from someone on your team of home repair contractors.
Home repairs can be scary to think about. And if you’ve never handled a repair before, you might not know what can go wrong. The opposite side of that coin is that you might also not realize just how simple some repairs really are, and how much money you can save by handling them yourself.
While this is by no means an all-inclusive list, here are a few tips to help you sort out what you can do, and when you need to add a pro.
Home Repair Contractors: Leave Electricity to the Professionals
Electrical repairs can be dangerous. In many cases, they require the skills and the special tools of a licensed and experienced electrician. With my handyman business, we would change light fixtures and install ceiling fans but we would always recommend a licensed electrician for any work that needed to be done at the electrical panel (also called the electrical box).
Electrical problems include a breaker tripping every time you run the vacuum or another appliance, lights dimming when another electrical item is turned on, loose outlets or outlets that don’t work, and lights flickering when there’s movement such as someone closing a door or even just walking across the floor.
Of course there are many other electrical issues, but these are some of the most common.
If you don’t have experience with electrical repairs, the safest thing to do is find a reliable pro to include on your list of home repair contractors. Keep his/her name and number handy so when it's time to defer to an electrician, it's an easy phone call versus living with the problem or making it worse.
Home Repair Contractors: Plumbing Can be Messy
Plumbing repairs are often more messy, complicated, and frustrating than they are dangerous. However, there are some dangers, such as breaking a drainage line and releasing methane.
You can probably handle life’s ordinary plumbing issues. Clogged drains just need a plunger or an auger (sometimes called a snake). A leaking pipe can be repaired by shutting off the water and tightening the connection with a wrench, or replacing the part that leaks with a new one.
If your toilet runs, you can often resolve it by replacing the components inside the toilet tank. It’s not as difficult as it looks, and the instructions are on the replacement parts or YouTube video.
For bigger plumbing jobs, you really do want a good plumber on your list of home repair contractors. If drains run slow and clearing them with a plunger or auger doesn’t help, you might have a blockage in the vent. That means climbing onto the roof to clear the vent stack, which is often best left to the pros. If you wake to find a flood in the house, you’ll definitely want to call someone to fix it for you. Good home management means you've established a relationship with a plumber who you can trust in an emergency.
Home Repair Contractors: HVAC Work Belongs with the Pros
You’ll want to replace the filter in your furnace every month. But beyond that, repairs to a furnace, heat pump, or other HVAC systems is best left to a home repair contractors. One of the best things you can do is get an annual service contract with an HVAC company. These typically include a yearly tune-up and emergency repairs at the same rates you'd pay during normal working hours. You might not even realize that these systems will operate more efficiently after a tune-up, saving energy and lowering your fuel costs.
If your system isn’t producing the right amount of cool or warm air, if it makes an unusual sound, if there’s a strange smell, or if there are any oddities with your heating and air conditioning at all, find a good HVAC repair person.
Home Repair Contractors: Everyone Needs a Handyman
There are basic homeowner skills that make sense to build over time, especially if you like working with your hands or you'd rather save your money for remodeling projects. Lots of homeowners like to paint and change room colors frequently, so you'll want to learn how to repair cracks and holes in your drywall. Learning to handle small caulking, tile and grout jobs you can complete in a few hours makes sense. And basic carpentry skills are practical for a drawer that's difficult to close or a loose handrail.
But some jobs like doors can get tricky as they have to be plumb (level) in three directions to operate smoothly. It's also easy to keep putting off minor repairs until they become bigger problems, like a rotting window sill that ends up requiring a new window. That's why you want a handyman on your list of home repair contractors, so preventive maintenance gets done on a timely basis. By having them come once or twice a year, you'll relax knowing your home is well maintained, and they can help you identify bigger problems if you find cracks in the foundation or a floor sagging.
Who's On Your Home Management Team?
You might be totally comfortable with a circular saw in your hands, or a screwdriver might make you a bit nervous. Either one is perfectly fine. But every homeowner needs a team of home repair contractors – an electrician, plumber, handyman and HVAC company.
By building long term relationships with these people, you'll be more likely to get help with routine maintenance when life gets in the way. More important when it comes to emergencies, like the heat goes out in January or the water heater springs a leak in the middle of the night, you’ll know exactly who to call.
There’s no better time than now to get your home management list of repair professionals together. And if you keep the list in a handy place, you won’t have to scramble to find it the next time you need to call in the help of a pro.