When you need carpentry work done at your home, you need to ensure that you retain the services of a good carpenter. Projects like building a deck, installing cabinets, making structural repairs, and customizing walk-in closets will enhance the value of your property, but only if done right. In order to obtain the best value for your investment you need to first locate a good carpenter.
1. What Does a Carpenter Do?
Carpenters provide a wide range of construction services, but are most often associated with lumber-related tasks. Various types of carpentry work are generally classified as framing, forming, general, finish, and cabinetry.
Building the structure of a building or wall falls under framing and building or assembling concrete forms is done by form carpenters, while building a deck, installing windows, or repairing a railing would fall under the category of general carpentry.
Finish or trim carpenters specialize in the installation, customization, and repair of trim details and other features on site, while cabinet makers typically build cabinets and furniture in a shop and provide installation and modification services on site.
Carpenters are versatile pros whose skills and services overlap with those in other trades, and they have a hand in most phases of construction. Carpenters also work with various materials, so the scope of a carpentry project might include many aspects of the overall job, such as installing insulation, drywall, flooring, or countertops and applying paint or stain. Additionally, many carpenters offer services in several classifications of the field, such as frame and finish work.
2. Why Hire a Carpenter?
Though several specializations exist in the field of carpentry, most pros have a broad knowledge of construction practices and structural requirements for various applications. A skilled carpenter can be sure your project is completed in a way that ensures the safety and stability of the structure and provides the needed basis for the remainder of an installation. Carpenters can also ensure that various materials are used and integrated properly so the entire job is correct.
Though many carpentry projects and installations are DIY-friendly, a pro can ensure the work is completed to code requirements and with a level of quality that will provide for lasting results. A professional carpenter is also equipped with all the tools of the trade so the work can be completed safely and efficiently.
3. Do I need a Carpenter or General Contractor?
There are many projects that a skilled carpenter can handle from start to finish, but when the scope of the work overlaps with certain trades it is often best to hire a general contractor who can subcontract some aspects of the job. For example, a general or finish carpenter can complete most aspects of a kitchen renovation, such as building or removing walls, hanging and finishing drywall, and installing trim, cabinetry and most countertop and flooring products.
However, if the job involves making changes to the plumbing or wiring in the room or installing high-end counter or floor materials, a general contractor may be better suited to line up the licensed or specialized pros that the job calls for.
4. How to Find a Quality Carpenter
When planning for structural or finish work in your home, you need to find a great carpenter who can properly address all aspects of the job. It is important to understand the nature of the work you need done so you can choose a pro with the right skill set to provide the results you need.
If you need to have a deck or porch built or repaired, be sure to look for pros with experience in structural carpentry. On the other hand, if you would like to have custom trim milled to match the existing material in a historic property, look for a pro with credentials in finish carpentry or cabinetry.
Ask carpenters to provide photos of their work if you need assurance they can create the finished product you need, and check their references to hear from their past customers whether their work meets expectations for quality and integrity.
5. Characteristics of Skilled Carpenters
When looking for carpenters you need to have a clear idea of the characteristics of an outstanding pro. Good carpenters should first assess your priorities for the project, measure and evaluate the site and plans, and suggest viable approaches and solutions. Good carpenters will provide a detailed estimate or bid after taking all your needs and preferences into consideration and will specify the cost of material and labor separately and in writing.
Carpenters worth hiring will have excellent reviews from past customers, possess all the tools needed to complete a project they bid for, and will carry any licenses and insurances required by your city and state. Quality carpenters should be confident in their skills and stand behind the quality of his workmanship with a warranty.
6. Signs of a Bad Carpenter
When looking for carpenters, beware of those who provide an unusually low estimate or submit a bid without seeing the project or plans in person. An unwillingness to let you specify the style or finish details of the project when appropriate, or failure to provide a contract or schedule for the work may indicate a carpenter is not reliable or dedicated to quality and customer satisfaction.
Unprofessional carpenters may not be willing to provide references, photos, samples, design advice, or a warranty, and unskilled or unreliable carpenters may not carry liability insurance to protect your property or worker’s compensation insurance to protect their employees.
7. Types of Jobs for a Carpenter
Carpenters provide a broad range of home repair and improvement services and have a part in most aspects of construction and maintenance.
- Deck Build or Repair: A carpenter is the pro to call when you need a deck constructed, improved or repaired. A skilled general carpenter can handle this type of project from the framing to the railing, and even finishing.
- Interior Trim Installation: Trim details provide the finishing touches to the interior of your home. A finish carpenter can use various trim elements to help define the character of the space, from simple baseboards to elaborate crown moldings.
- Stairway Build: Building a stairway is a complex project that calls for attention to detail and adherence to building codes to ensure safe and comfortable access. Whether a simple set of steps outside or a design feature of your foyer, an experienced carpenter can make sure your stairway meets your requirements for both form and function.
- Cabinet Installation: Whether off-the-shelf stock units or an entire custom-made kitchen, proper installation is key to the stability, function, and appearance of your cabinets. A general or finish carpenter has what it takes to complete a quality installation, and a professional cabinet maker can customize the entire project.
A professional carpenter is a good choice to handle a number of jobs and repairs around the house, from fixing a broken fence, hanging shutters, or building a room partition to installing a fireplace mantel, attic ladder, or a new door. Check out our list of Carpentry Services to see if your project is a good fit for a carpenter and to look for local pros.
8. What is the Cost to Hire a Carpenter?
Since the range of services offered by carpenters is very broad, the cost of hiring one depends on a number of details. The nature and scope of the job, the skill set and level required, and the type and quality of materials needed are all factors in the price of a carpentry project.
Even when projects are priced as a whole, labor prices are typically based on the time a pro expects the job to take. Rates vary around the U.S., but typically fall between $30 and $60 per hour.
To find out more about the requirements and costs of various carpentry projects and to see how yours may compare, visit our Carpentry Home Guides.
9. Find Carpenters Near You
If you are ready to hire a contractor for your construction, repair, or improvement project, let us help you connect with qualified pros. Our team has verified the credentials of local carpentry contractors and each one in our network has been background checked so you can be assured of finding skilled and trusted professionals. Take a look at the profiles of recommended pros and choose a few meet with to discuss the job.