Handyman or remodeler in Boston?

Handyman or remodeler in Boston?

So it’s time to remodel that Jamaica Plain kitchen, tile the entry hall to that Roxbury house or install molding in the living room of that Cambridge condo. But are these jobs for a handyman or a remodeler?

A handyman may be good for smaller, one-person jobs like changing locks, hanging pictures or replacing old faucets with new ones.

But more complex projects like finishing a basement, adding a bathroom or taking a Cape Cod style house to a full two stories likely will require a crew under the supervision of a contractor with at least a restricted license that allows him to work on one- and two-family dwellings. Under Massachusetts law, anyone who supervises even one person for a construction or demolition job requires a license issued by the State Board of Building Regulations and Standards.

Also requiring a license are electricians, plumbers and gasfitters. If there are issues with lead or asbestos, those contractors also require a license from the Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

A licensed contractor, as opposed to a handyman, has three years of supervised experience and has passed a 3-hour exam on a variety of subjects, including code administration; quality materials and design; and mechanical systems.

Licensure likely will affect the cost of your project. Because the cost of a license, depending on the type, is upwards of $300, the contractor may feel justified in passing on the cost to customers. The contractor also may feel his work is worth more than that of a handyman because of the extra expertise he has had to acquire and demonstrate.

But even a handyman working on a one-unit to four-unit owner-occupied building is required to register with the State Board of Building Regulations and Standards. Though this does not require an exam, it likely requires a minimum fee of $100. Whether hiring a highly rated handyman or a licensed remodeler, always, get three estimates; check references, insurance and bonding, and licensure.


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