When to hire a licenced contractor (and when not to)

The possibilities for real estate investment in the U.S. are endless–it’s no wonder Australians and Kiwis are so attracted to it. The range of properties is staggering and so are the dirt-cheap prices.


When the time comes to upgrade or update your U.S. investment property, you might be tempted to go the safe route and hire a professional contractor. It is something we suggest for big property overhauls, renovations and extensions, but it’s not always necessary.


The amount of help you need comes down to how big your work project is. If it’s a small handyman job, a licensed contractor may be overkill, especially as your contractor may charge a lot more.


A licensed professional contractor will give you the highest quality and coordinate your U.S. team across a big job, but you can scale down and use a no-frills handyperson for smaller projects and get significant returns without lifting a finger.


If it’s a job that can be accomplished with just one person (compared to having to take on an entire team of tradies), you might just want to reconsider who you hire–your budget will thank you later.

What does a U.S. licensed contractor do?

General contractors in the U.S. oversee construction and the hands-on building across a worksite from beginning to end.


They are in charge of hiring, managing and overseeing a multitude of tradespeople and subcontractors called into work on various aspects of your worksite. This can include electricians, plumbers, plasters, carpenters and roofing specialists.


To do their job well, they’ll need planning and leadership experience as well as knowledge of building sites, quality control and communicating with suppliers.


There are big benefits to hiring a contractor, including:


  • A smooth and seamless workflow
  • Timely communications
  • Quality control
  • Access to a trusted and known labour force


General contractors also have to assess the feasibility of the project, approximate how long it will take and provide you with a budget that covers all the expenses.


Not all contractors have the skills needed to handle your job. Make sure you do your due diligence and background checks and cover the five contractor must-haves .

When should you hire a licensed contractor?

When faced with bigger jobs or renovations that require a number of different trade specialists, hiring a general contractor is your best bet.


A general contractor knows what makes a quality build and how to finish everything to perfection. Finding a good contractor comes with several benefits and helps you:


  • Avoid accidents and costly mistakes
  • Get the job done professionally
  • Maximise efficiency
  • Keep your project on time
  • Troubleshoot issues as they arise
  • Get the job done correctly the first time

When should you hire a handyperson?

Before looking into general contractors and tradespeople for your residential real estate investment property in the U.S., evaluate the amount of work that needs to be done.


Is this something a handyperson can take on themselves? Short-term projects that don’t require a lot of supervision, permits or time are perfect projects an odd-jobber can accomplish for you.


You need to consider the size and complexity of the project and see if it’s an undertaking that a one-person team can handle. Breaking down the entire project into smaller, more manageable tasks can help you evaluate whether or not these small steps are things that require an entire roster of subcontractors or one skilled tradesperson or handyperson.


Usual jobs that can be handled simply include:


  • Shelving
  • Painting
  • Laying carpets and ready-made flooring (floating floors, linoleum)
  • Window repairs and screens
  • Shutters
  • Doors
  • Ceiling fans
  • Repairs and maintenance


If these items fall under an odd-jobber’s listed expertise and skills you can omit hiring a contractor altogether. Just make sure you do the same due diligence with your background checks here with:


  • Checking relevant trade certificates and qualifications
  • Asking for referees
  • Looking over client testimonials
  • Asking for previous experience and work history


When it comes to power tools, ask them what they own already and what needs to be hired along the way. They should be able to tell you their needs quickly and accurately as well as provide an upfront estimate that includes all the items you discuss in your screening call.


Renovating or updating your investment property from Australia, or even interstate, certainly has its challenges. Having the right support and skilled workers you can trust will give you peace of mind to look after your U.S. residential real estate and keep it looking its best.


The choice of who to hire is a big one. Whether you choose a general contractor to oversee the project or a handyperson to add those finishing touches, it’s important to gauge their skills and assess their ability to handle the workload with reference checks.


Having a trusted property management team available locally can help keep an eye on things for you. Talk to your U.S. real estate agent or property manager about dropping in to check on work progress so you get much-needed eyes on the ground.


If you are interested in flipping a U.S. property for profit, take a look at our Fix and Flip Academy offer on our website. This online, self-paced course gives you all the information you need to get started.


For any further advice on buying a residential investment property in the U.S. or building your ground crew, give the Star Dynamic team a call.


5 contractor must-haves to make the best of your property investment