Some projects require a licensed contractor to ensure they are completed safely and properly.
A handyman service is perfect for small home maintenance and repair tasks because you get one service provider who can complete several projects in a single day - typically all for one hourly rate. However, there are many projects, especially those that involve electrical and plumbing work, that require the specialized skills of a licensed professional or contractor.
Failing to hire a licensed pro can result in shoddy work, unsafe living conditions and work that doesn't meet local building codes. When deciding whether to hire a handyman or other service provider, consider the risks involved, the length of the project and the skills and tools needed to safely complete the job.
The repairs listed below are all examples of jobs that are too complex for a handyman and should be left to a licensed pro or contractor:
Replacing a circuit breaker or other electrical repairs
If electrical wiring is installed incorrectly, it poses extreme danger to your home and the family. Connecting the wrong wires or touching exposed wires without the proper safety gear can electrocute the handyman and even cause a fire. In addition to safety concerns, licensed electricians are knowledgeable about the National Electrical Code and local laws that regulate standards for electrical wiring and equipment.
Mechanical heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) repairs
HVAC technicians are trained to properly size HVAC units for buildings or homes of any size. Some HVAC units use coolants that can only be legally purchased by a licensed professional. Depending where you live, HVAC installations may require a permit, which can only be pulled by a licensed technician or contractor.
Plumbing installation or repairs
While it may seem easy to fix a leaky faucet, learning how to install, troubleshoot and repair plumbing requires extensive training. Plumbers work with both water and gas lines, and they must know local, state and national codes for both types of plumbing. They also have specialized tools for properly tightening pipes and fittings.
Editor's note: This is an updated version of a story published on October 23, 2012.