So, you've found a buyer to purchase your home and the home inspection has revealed some issues that the buyer has requested to be fixed. Should you call your "handy" family member to save some money, or should you call a licensed contractor?
Depending on the type of repair, it MAY be appropriate for you to fix it yourself or for a handy person to take care of it; however, we do not recommend this option for most repairs that are noted on a home inspection report. In the majority of cases, a home inspector will only flag items that are non-cosmetic in nature - ones that would affect the function and/or preservation of the home. If an item is flagged, it most likely exceeds the scope of the standard homeowner or "handy" family member's skill level. Likewise, certain repairs (like electrical, plumbing, etc.) require a permit and a licensed contractor to complete the job legally and safely.
Even when a repair seems simple, a home inspector will often come back to re-inspect the repair and report sub-par workmanship. Since our standard NC purchase contracts (Form 2-T) require repairs to be made in a "good and workmanlike manner," the desire to save money on the front end can end up costing you more money in the end. It will likely cost even more to have a licensed contractor come back to re-do a shoddy job than it would have to repair the issue in the first place. Start with a professional and save yourself the expense and the hassle. After all, who wants to pay for the same job twice, or potentially lose the sale altogether because the buyers lose trust in your desire to fulfill your obligations?
We did mention that there were some limited situations where a do-it-yourself repair may be appropriate, so let's clarify with an example. If an electrical outlet only needs a cover, this can be purchased very affordably at a local hardware store and installed by the simple use of a screwdriver. Most standard homeowners would be able to complete this repair safely and in a good and workmanlike manner. However, if the scope of the work requires any modification to the wiring itself, this would trigger the need for a licensed electrician.
When you hire a licensed contractor, also be sure to obtain receipts for the work showing that you've paid the bill in full. You may even be required to obtain a lien waiver from the contractor prior to closing to ensure that the contractor does not place a mechanic's lien on the home after the close of the sale. The closing attorney will advise you about any lien waivers as needed. Having the documentation from the contractor for completed repairs will help shift most of the workmanship liability to the contractor if problems are later discovered.
Lastly, if you are going to hire a licensed contractor, make sure you also ask for documentation of their licensure AND their liability insurance. The last thing you need is to hire a licensed contractor only to find out they have no liability insurance to cover them while they are at your property. Unexpected damages or injury can be a costly mistake if the contractor doesn't carry insurance to cover these claims.
Your Hall & Nixon agent will guide you through your repair negotiations and can even recommend a variety of options for licensed and insured vendors/contractors. Rely on your agent's expertise to help you navigate those repair requests and get the documentation you need!