Today, we received a repair request from the buyers of one of our listings. The house was built in 2010 so we knew there wouldn't be much, if anything, to do. As expected, the list consisted of a few handyman repairs; no plumbing, electrical, HVAC or roofing items.
Mr. Seller is quite handy and knew he could knock out these repairs in an hour or two. But wait...the buyer requested all repairs be completed by a licensed contractor.
I am all for licensed contractors completing roofing, HVAC, plumbing and electrical repairs but when a smoke detector needs to be replaced, it doesn't take a licensed contractor to do that. Additionally, handymen aren't licensed in Tennessee. That's right, a handyman is NOT required to be licensed in our state. Many times sellers are hiring handymen, thinking they are hiring a licensed contractor.
In Tennessee, if you want to hire a licensed handyman, he must either have a contractor's license or a home improvement license. Does it make sense to pay a licensed contractor who charges $150 an hour to change a smoke detector? Not to mention the fact that many licensed contractors with more advanced skills don't want to be doing handyman jobs.
What is the solution to this dilemma? Should handymen be required to become licensed? Or should home sellers be allowed to complete repairs?
After contacting several licensed contractors, the sellers found that it would cost them about $500 - $750 to have this short list of items repaired. The contractors admitted that not knowing the scope of the work, they quoted the job high. They also said they were too busy to complete a job so small. They suggested calling a handyman.
We were back to our original dilemma. The buyer wanted a licensed contractor. Why pay a handyman who isn't licensed, to do a job the seller is perfectly capable of doing? Here's the solution we proposed: the sellers would complete all repairs. However, they would pay a home inspector $150 to re-inspect. This solution would assure the buyers that the work was completed and save the sellers about $350 to $600.
That solution seemed to satify the buyers and we're moving forward.
I will admit, not all sellers are qualified to do even the simplest of repairs. When you have someone who is very capable, it hardly makes sense to hire someone to do the work. Besides, I've seen some pretty shoddy work recently from hired handymen.
What are your thoughts? Should home sellers be allowed to complete repairs?