People across the world maintain a love affair with wood crafts, wood furniture, and wood flooring. It’s used in home construction in the walls and inside the house. You can even find wooden toys inside many toyboxes.
Of course, all of that wood around you also means that there may well come a day when you must hire a carpenter. It might sound simple, but it takes a bit of work and investigation. Like any craftsman, you need the right fit.
If you’re thinking you’ll need a carpenter, keep reading for our guide on hiring a carpenter.
Understanding the Types of Carpenters
Before you start looking at hiring a carpenter, it’s important to understand that they come in a few different types. Each type specializes in a different area.
A fairly common type of carpenter is the rough carpenter. These carpenters specialize in tasks like framing walls. In essence, they build the foundations for other types of work, like putting up drywall or finish carpentry work.
The second type of carpenter is a finish carpenter. Finish carpenters handle general interior work in homes, such as installing molding and trim or installing cabinets.
The last type of carpenter is the cabinet maker. This term is a little misleading since cabinet makers often make a wide variety of furniture and small wood projects. A cabinet maker might make you a vanity, dresser, jewelry box, or kitchen cabinets.
You want the right kind of carpenter for your project.
Looking for Candidates
If you need carpentry services, you’ll likely start online with a search like “carpenter near me.” This should bring up a list of local carpenters, but you’ll need to narrow down the options by project type.
If you want a custom dresser, you’ll look for a cabinet maker. If you need a wall added to a room, you’ll look for a rough carpenter.
Unlike many businesses, a lot of carpenters don’t maintain websites. So, you should also ask around about carpenters to work colleagues, friends, and family members. This can expand your list of potential candidates.
Asking around in your personal circle comes with the added benefit of getting personal recommendations. Customers typically see and interact with a carpenter’s work on a daily basis. That means that clients are in a good position to judge the overall quality of the work.
Just because someone is a cabinet maker, it doesn’t mean they make the thing you want. Many carpenters sub-specialize in particular kinds of projects.
One person may focus entirely on kitchen cabinets, while another might focus on restoration. A third carpenter might make hope chests almost exclusively.
When you contact carpenters, tell them exactly what you’re looking for. The good ones will tell you if they do that kind of work right from the get-go. They’d rather send you to someone who does that kind of work than waste your time.
Let’s say that you don’t know exactly what you want, but you do have an idea. Share that with the carpenter. They’ll generally know if that kind of project is in their wheelhouse or not.
Do Some Reference Checks
Most carpenters can refer you to people they’ve worked for before. You can avoid some cherry-picking on their part by asking for references for projects like yours. When the carpenter gives you the names and numbers, give those people a call and ask some probing questions, such as:
- How was their work quality?
- Did they finish on schedule?
- Was the final price reasonably close to the estimate?
- Did they communicate about delays or alterations?
- Would you hire them again?
These kinds of questions can often pull out salient details that matter to you. For example, someone who delivers high-quality work but never delivers on schedule isn’t a good fit for a time-sensitive project.
Check Out Any Image Gallery
If the carpenter does maintain an online presence, you can usually find an image gallery of their work. This can give you a sense of their overall style. This might not seem like a big deal on the surface, but there are several woodworking styles, such as:
- Arts and Crafts
- Art Deco
- Post Modern
Each approach creates a certain visual impression that may or may not work with your home. The upside is that you can ask them if they can work in a different style. Some carpenters can move between styles without much trouble and some cannot.
If you get lucky, you’ll find someone who can.
If your carpenter doesn’t maintain an online gallery, they probably do have a physical portfolio of pictures they can show you of their work.
Get Some Estimates
A question might wonder about is how much to hire a carpenter. The reality is that you can find an extraordinary range of prices with carpenters.
Some carpenters charge relatively fixed fees for specific projects, while others charge by the hour or give custom estimates for each project. On top of that, a carpenter with 20 years of experience may charge dramatically more than a novice carpenter.
You should ask for an estimate from all of your potential carpenters. While any or all of them may have the right qualifications, some might prove more expensive than your budget can afford.
If nothing else, you can get an overall impression of the price range. Once you get that, you can pick based on your budget and preferences.
Getting It Right When You Hire a Carpenter
Getting it right when you hire a carpenter is almost entirely about doing the necessary legwork. You must narrow down what kind of carpenter you need for your project. Once you know that, you move into more familiar territory.
You do some research online and ask around for recommendations to find candidates. Then you ask questions, look at pictures of their work, and check their references. Finally, you get estimates.
Once you put all of that together, you pick someone who fits your needs and your budget.
Craving more home improvement advice? You can find it in our Home Improvement section.