My house needs work…now what?

Whether you are a home buyer or seller, chances are you’ll want work doing to your home – sprucing it up to sell, in response to requests from a home inspection or just to make it exactly the way you want it.

So how do you go about finding a good pro?  Firstly, what do you really want to know before engaging someone – Can they do the job, how much will they charge, are they reliable and can you trust them.    It sounds obvious, but we’ve all heard stories of so-called professionals who couldn’t do the job they were hired for or added costs once a job was started or wouldn’t show up for days on end leaving the homeowner looking at a part finished project.  Don’t let that be you.

What type of professional should I hire?

There are options of trades to hire.  A general contractor has gone through a rigorous education and testing to become licensed and is able to obtain permits for any type of construction in Pinellas.  Typically a general contractor will engage and coordinate all other trades for you and add a margin to cover their time and expertise. A GC is necessary for large jobs requiring multiple trades and permits, such as building an addition or a remodel requiring structural changes, but more than you need for doing smaller jobs.

There are licensed professionals who specialize in specific trades – electricians, plumbers, HVAC technicians and some others require most of what they do to be permitted and can obtain permits as required.  There are also trades that specialize in carpentry, cabinet install, tiling, all kinds of flooring, drywall, stucco etc. A specialized trades person makes sense where you need a larger job such as tiling a whole house, or replacing all the drywall in a room.  Typically they will have the resources to take on larger jobs and they should have the experience to do a professional job.

Another option is a handyman or a home services company – they will have the skills or resources to do multiple jobs such as cabinet install, tiling a backsplash and painting.  These are good options when your job is smaller or requires multiple skills and typically they will be cheaper than the specialized trades. A handyman will not be able to obtain a permit, and I would only want a specialist to make changes to my electric, plumbing or HVAC!

Where to find help

How do you go about finding a professional and establishing if they can they do the job, how much will they charge, are they reliable and can you trust them?   By far the best option is a referral from a neighbor, family or even asking your local realtor – most realtors will have a list of trades they have experience of and happily help you locate the best person for your job.  Angie’s List and HomeAdvisor are good sources, and newer platforms like Takl and Thumbtack are also good. The professional will pay to be on these platforms so just being there doesn’t necessarily mean you would want to have them work for you.  Read the reviews, see if they have been background checked (all Takl pros are background checked, pros have the option on Thumbtack), and see if you like the way they interact with you. Ultimately to be comfortable with a pro you’ll need to meet them in person or talk on the phone, and they may not always be cheapest.

Finally, when the work is done, support their business by giving reviews and recommendations!

For info on building regulations and what needs a permit in St Petersburg visit the City of St Pete, or here for Madeira Beach, for Treasure Island and St Pete Beach.