Carpenters perform a wide variety of tasks ranging from cutting and shaping wooden structures and fixtures to installing, inspecting, and replacing these structures and fixtures in homes. Unfortunately, this wide range of tasks also makes carpentry one of the most hazardous occupations in the United States. In 2019, 11,670 nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses and 99 fatal occupational injuries were recorded amongst carpenters by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In view of these figures, it is always better to employ the services of a professional carpenter near you to handle any woodwork related jobs that you may have.
When you want to embark on a woodwork project, there are a few questions that you should ask your potential contractors before you settle on one. These questions guide your selection and ensure that you hire a professional carpenter nearby that is experienced and capable enough to properly handle your project.
Are You a Licensed Carpenter?
The woodwork industry is guided by several safety standards. Hiring a professional carpenter ensures that your project is done in compliance with these standards, thereby reducing the occurrence of workplace hazards.
The requirements for obtaining a license differ from state to state. Many states typically require carpenters to obtain a general contractor's license before performing jobs that cost a particular amount. Some states also issue specific carpenters licenses. For example, carpenters in the state of California that wish to work on projects worth more than $500 are required to obtain a general license. California also issues specific carpenters licenses to carpenters that have a minimum of four full years of experience, have passed a written exam, and are bonded to the tune of at least $15,000. Carpenters that wish to do any form of home improvement work in Maryland are required to obtain a state-level license, while Rhode Island does not issue carpenters licenses but requires all contractors involved in home construction, commercial construction, alterations, remodeling, or repairs to properties to undergo a registration process.
In addition to the state licensing, carpenters that work on apartments, child-occupied facilities, and other residential buildings built before 1978 are required to undergo a specialized lead-safe work practices training and certification program conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency.
You can verify any licenses presented to you by any carpenter near you online through the licensing information website maintained by the National Association of Contractors Licensing Agencies. It is a good idea to find out the specific licensing requirement of your state of residence before doing so. You can do this by contacting your local consumer protection agency.
Are You a Bonded and Insured Carpenter?
Workplace injuries are an unfortunate reality. In 2019, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics recorded more than 5,300 fatal work injuries. In the woodwork industry, the Center for Diseases Control and Prevention estimates that nail guns alone are responsible for over 37,000 emergency room visits annually. Therefore, even though it is important to hire a professional carpenter near you instead of doing the job yourself, it is also necessary to hire a carpenter that is insured and licensed.
When you hire a carpenter that is insured, you are absolved from any financial liabilities that may arise if a workplace injury happens during your project. If your carpenter is also bonded, then you are provided with additional financial protection if your project is not properly completed according to the terms of agreement you have with your carpenter. Always make sure that carpenters you wish to hire show you valid proof of their insurance and bonding, and ensure that the insurance policy includes both workers' compensation insurance and general liability insurance. In addition, contact your local consumer protection agency to find out the specific bond requirements for your state of residence.
What Kind of Work Are You Specialized In?
The term 'carpenter' refers to any individual that specializes in woodwork. It is always important to hire a carpenter that is adequately suited to the type of job you need done.
Although carpenters handle a wide variety of jobs, carpentry jobs are generally grouped into two: Rough Carpentry and Finish Carpentry. Rough carpentry involves work that is not visible after completion and so does not require a neat finish. Examples include the structural components of houses like beams, posts, and rafters. On the other hand, finish carpentry involves carpentry work that is visible after completion, like staircases, decking, and windows. Finish carpentry therefore requires more training and specialization because of the high level of detail that it involves.
Some carpenters also specialize in certain subgroups of carpentry. These include cabinetmaking which involves making cabinets and furniture, trim carpentry which involves installing and repairing trims and moldings found on doors and windows, and green carpentry which involves working with mostly environment-friendly materials. In addition, some carpenters specialize in either residential, commercial, or industrial carpentry.
Before you hire a carpenter near you for a job, you should always find out the type of carpentry that the carpenter is specialized in, and whether the carpenter's level of experience is enough for the job.
Who Will Do the Work?
Many carpenters typically learn on the job through apprenticeships. This means that when you hire a professional carpenter, there is a likelihood that at least one apprentice might tag along for the job. In some cases, the size of your project may require the involvement of additional professional carpenters. Asking the carpenter that you intend to hire "who will do the work" is necessary because it lets you know how many workers may be involved in your project and whether these workers are adequately qualified to handle it. When you ask this question, also make sure that you find out whether these additional workers that may be involved in the project are properly licensed, insured, and bonded.
Do You Offer a Warranty?
When a person pays for a good, service, or product, the seller typically issues a warranty. This warranty serves as a guarantee that assures the purchaser of the quality of the good, service, or product, and it is usually legally enforceable. Warranties can be implied, oral, or written.
In the woodwork industry, carpenters typically issue a time-based warranty of workmanship. This warranty covers the work performed, and guarantees that any items created, installed, or repaired by the carpenter will serve their intended purpose for a particular period. Note that in most cases, certain conditions have to be met for the warranty to be enforceable. This usually involves properly maintaining the product and not modifying it in any way. When a carpenter issues you a warranty, it is always a good idea to find out the specific conditions of that warranty. One way you can do this is by ensuring that the warranty is issued in writing.
Will This Job Require a Permit?
Permits are official approvals that allow you to carry out a construction, renovation, or remodeling project on your home and property. Permits are typically issued by the local government agency that regulates or oversees the type of project you want to undertake. Whether or not you require a permit generally depends on your area of residence and the type of project you wish to undertake. Generally, you will be required to obtain a permit for a carpentry job if it involves alterations to the structure of your home or if it significantly alters your home's footprint. Examples of these types of jobs include erecting fences, garage conversions, and renovating basement furnishings.
One of the reasons why it is important to hire a professional carpenter nearby is because such professionals know the jobs that require a permit and the process for obtaining these permits in your city. However, you can also find out the specific requirements for obtaining a permit in your area of residence by contacting the local building authority office near you.
Will You Provide References?
Asking for a list of references from a carpenter you intend to hire is important. A professional carpenter will readily provide you with this information, and may also offer you pictures of other similar projects that they have completed. When asking for references, it is recommended that you ask for at least three, and preferably references living near you. Alternatively, you can conduct an online search for the carpenter you wish to hire and look up any available customer reviews. Some third-party websites like Yelp, Better Business Bureau, and Google Reviews offer this service.
Do You Have a Business License?
Business licenses are licenses that allow companies or firms to conduct business in a particular area. The difference between a business license and a contractor's or professional license is that the former pertains to a company as a whole while the latter is individual-specific. Many professional carpenters either work for a contracting firm or own their own business. These types of businesses are known as small businesses because they generally do not have more than 500 employees. Small businesses make up nearly 100% of all businesses in the United States, and their registration requirements vary from state to state.
When a carpenter owns or works for a duly registered company, it is also likely that that carpenter is properly licensed, insured, and bonded. However, you should always verify a company's business license before hiring one of their carpenters. You can do this by contacting your state of residence's Office of the Secretary of State.Â
What Are Common Carpentry Problems?
Some common problems that occur during carpentry are:
- Glue smears and stains
- Loose/weak joints
- Fuzzy wood
- Dents and splits
- Blade burns
In addition to this, carpentry also involves a number of bodily and health hazards. The most common injuries that happen are:
Hiring a professional carpenter reduces the chances of any of these problems occurring during your project.
How Much Does Carpentry Cost?
Carpentry involves a wide range of jobs and projects. As such, many carpenters generally charge an hourly rate. The average cost of hiring a carpenter is $25 - $50 per hour. However, this cost can go as low as $15 or as high as $100, depending on the type of project. Note that this fee does not include the cost of materials that may be used for the project.
Some average carpentry-related cost estimates are listed below:
What Are the Factors That Affect the Cost of Carpentry?
When it comes to carpentry, the factors that affect the total amount of money that you may end up paying for a project the most are the type of project, the cost of the materials needed for the project, and the level of difficulty involved. For example, a simple door repair job may cost you an average of $100, while a hardwood floor installation job can cost you as much as $4,000. However, to limit other costs associated with travel, material carriage, and other logistics, it is recommended that you hire a contractor near you.
What Qualifications Should Carpenters Have?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, it is estimated that there are over 734,100 employed carpenters in the United States. Carpenters are generally required to have a high school diploma or its equivalent. Many carpenters learn on the job through apprenticeships and also through training programs organized by the firms and companies that employ them. In addition to this, carpenters are generally required to obtain either a general contractor's license or a specific carpentry license. Note that the requirements for obtaining these licenses vary by state. Finally, any carpenter that is involved in the repair and renovation of an apartment, child-occupied facility, or residential building built before 1978 is required to obtain a certification from the Environmental Protection Agency.
Do You Need a Handyman or a Carpenter?
Due to the wide variety of tasks that are involved in carpentry, you may be tempted to hire a handyman or a joiner near you. However, it is always better to hire a professional carpenter to handle your project. A handyman is a worker that is capable of doing various home and property-related tasks without actually being specifically trained or professionally licensed in any particular one. On the other hand, a joiner is a woodwork craftsman that creates things by joining wood together. The main difference between a carpenter and a joiner is that while joiners mostly work in factories or workshops, carpenters work on-site, fixing and installing woodwork items. This also gives carpenters more experience with regards to woodwork-related projects, thereby making them the best choice for most residential improvement projects.
What Are Common Post Carpentry Expenses?
Some of the expenses that you may incur after your carpenter has completed a project are:
- Painting costs: You may need to employ the services of a painter after a carpentry project. This is usually the case in carpentry jobs that involve new installations or replacement of an existing structure. Painting can cost you around $200, depending on the amount of work and materials involved. Note that some carpenters may offer painting services as part of their package.
- Disposal costs: There is usually debris like sawdust, used nails, pieces of wood and wood chippings leftover after a carpenter is done with a job. You should always ask your carpenter who bears the responsibility for making sure that this debris is properly disposed of. In many cases, your carpenter includes the cost of doing it when calculating their bills.
- Decoration costs: An example of this post-carpentry expense is the cost of laying a carpet after building and installing or repairing a wooden floor. Doing this can cost as low as $400 or as high as $2,000, depending on the size of the floor you want to carpet and the type of carpet that you wish to use.
Does Homeowner Insurance Cover Carpentry Expenses?
Over a five year period starting from 2014, more than 90% of all filed insurance claims were as a result of a form of property damage. Your homeowner's insurance will typically cover your carpentry expenses if these expenses are a result of damages that were caused by a peril that is covered by your insurance policy. Perils covered by most insurance companies usually include theft, vandalism, fires, explosions, and lightning strikes. Note that if the damage to your woodwork is a result of negligence or wear and tear, it is very likely that your homeowner's insurance will not cover the carpentry expenses. As such, it is always a good idea to properly study the terms and conditions of any insurance policy you wish to purchase before committing to it.
Can I Use Digital Payment to Pay My Carpenter?
Yes, you can pay any carpenter near you via a digital payment platform. However, it is advisable that you inform your carpenter before doing so. This is because even though digital payments are generally faster and more secure, some contractors still prefer cash and check transactions. If you have to pay your carpenter with physical cash, you should make sure that you collect a receipt of payment. This is necessary for record-keeping purposes.