BY ELIZABETH WEINTRAUB Updated December 27, 2016
After buying a home, many buyers discover they want to personalize that home, change the environment to suit specific tastes, and that means finding a handyman or contractor. When I think about the best ways to find a handyman or contractor, this old joke pops into my head. It goes like this. People want three things in a handyman or contractor. They want a contractor who is: 1. Affordable 2. Highly skilled, and 3. Punctual, so pick any two. Meaning it is impossible to get all three characteristics in a contractor.

But it’s not impossible, of course.

You can find a great handyman or contractor and be the envy of all your friends. Everybody has a horror story to share about contractors. Ask any friend and you’ll hear about guys who did not finish jobs, stole money, or left the homeowner in the lurch after doing a lousy job and vanishing. Naturally, you don’t want any of this stuff to happen to you, and you’re probably a bit cautious about choosing a contractor; I don’t blame you. It’s all about whom you choose.

Determine the Type of Handyman or Contractor You Need to Find
The first step is to choose the right tradesman or tradeswoman for the job. If it’s a simple job, where little can go wrong, you can hire a handyman/handyperson, but for jobs that involve a situation in which something could easily go wrong, you might be better off with a professional who specializes in a specific field.

Stop and consider the job. If it’s your heating or air conditioning that needs work, you would need an HVAC specialist. If you’re installing light fixtures, you would look for an electrician. Replacing a faucet or toilet, call a plumber. Refinishing wood floors or installing new hardwood, get a flooring installer. You will find specialists who work entirely in ceramic and various types of tile such as travertine or marble. The benefit to hiring a professional is they do this type of work over and over and the process is generally second nature.

The other obvious benefit about hiring a specialist is they know what do if the job turns out to be more complicated than it appears. Sometimes, you don’t know what can go wrong until you’re in the middle of the project, and if you haven’t hired the right person, it can be too late.

When I made my first trip to my vacation home in Hawaii, for example, I noticed the kitchen faucet, a pull-out, was losing its integrity, hanging its head in shame into my sink. I ran out to Lowes and picked up a beautiful stainless steel pre-rinse with a coiled neck and a pull-down sprayer to replace the ugly white fixture.

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