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Home Improvement--General/To contract or hire my friends as temps

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Dear Tony:
My wife and I just bought a home.  We have some upgrades to do: repainting the cabinets from black to another color and maybe installing some more cabinets in the kitchen, replacing some cracked roof tiles (I have a good contractor who I will be hiring to help me with this), putting up a fence around two parts of the yard (3 feet of block with three feet of wood or vinyl on top of that), putting in a storage shed, installed a swamp cooler, putting in some concrete steps in the front yard and some concrete for the storage shed foundation and some other areas around the side of the house, putting in a sink and some electrical in the garage and some shelves in the garage.  We have about $20,000 to do that.  I have some friends who do contracting, but none of them are licensed and I am very afraid of having one of them get hurt on my property.  I want to hire them through a temp agency and then just have them do the work on an hourly basis until it is done.  I have a lot of hours I can take off work and am interested in learning as I do the work along side of them.  But then on the other hand it might be better and possibly cheaper to get some contractors who do this kind of work all them time to just do it by the job.  Please discuss this issue for me.
I have the same issue at the house we are moving out of.  I want to get it fixed up and ready to rent out.  I have another $20K more to work on that one, but it doesnít really need so much.  But I still need to decide if I should hire my friends through a temp agency.  Or one of them was saying I could say they are handymen as long as no individual makes more than $500, I donít have to have workers comp.  I think he might not be right about that.  So Iím still trying to figure out which way to go.  There are so many shoddy contractors, so I donít want to get messed up with one of them.  But I could also get messed up with a friend and then they might not be that much of a friend after that.
Thanks.
Michael Roth
Riverside, CA

Answer
Michael,

The concerns you have appear to be more of a legal issue than a construction issue and as such I am a poor source for advice.  

That being said, in North Carolina where I am located, contractors are not required to be licensed for projects under $30,000.00 dollars and liability insurance is not required for three or fewer employes.

A consultation with your insurance company and the building inspections department may yield  information that will help you make a decision on how to proceed. A liability wavier signed by your friends may be another option but I am not sure of the legalities involved.

Sorry I could not be of more assistance.  

Home Improvement--General

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Tony Wood

Expertise

I can answer a wide range of home improvement and maintenance questions. My expertise is in carpentry, painting, framing, siding/boxing, doors, windows, decks and screen and glass enclosures. Wood's Home Maintenance Service

Experience

I am a life time resident of North Carolina with over 30 years experience in multiple facets of the industrial, commercial and residential construction industry. For the past 23 years I have owned and operated Wood's Home Maintenance Service , providing services primarily in Johnston, Wake and Sampson Counties of North Carolina.

Organizations
NFIB

Publications
Several Home improvement articles published on Angie's List and other online forums.

Education/Credentials
High School graduate ~ proficient in CAD (computer aided design), Open Office program suite.

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