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Home Improvement: Handyman or Tradesman? - posted February 22, 2010

Electrical work: A licensed electrician can handle anything related to electricity. They cost about $75 to $100 an hour. You should hire one for any basic electrical work or anything that involves new wiring in the walls.

A good independent handyman has less experience but costs only $25 to $50 an hour. He probably has many capabilities. For example, he could not only install a new ceiling fan, he could also paint the ceiling.

Franchises, such as HouseDoctors, charge more but are more likely to insure and bond their crews.

Plumbing: Similarly, the independent handyman could not only replace the faucet or install the toilet, but he could replace most bathroom floors as well.

His work will cost less than that of a union plumber. But for projects that require new pipes or rearranging pipes under the floor, a professional plumber is your best bet.

Heating and cooling: Depending on the handyman's experience, he could replace the thermostat or a thermocouple, but for actual furnace or air conditioning repairs, call a pro.

General contractor or tradesman? Experts reporting in Money magazine say a general contractor will handle everything related to a home improvement project. It's a big help if the project includes several subcontractors. He will mark up their fees by 10 percent or 20 percent to cover his own expenses.


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