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


Dear Jay:
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 doesn’t 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 don’t have to have workers comp.  I think he might not be right about that.  So I’m still trying to figure out which way to go.  There are so many shoddy contractors, so I don’t 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.
Michael Roth
Riverside, CA

Two big issues are the fact you want to hire friends and the second is they are not licensed or insured.

The first issue as you know could back fire as you will not treat your friends the same as you would hiring a contractor. What happens if there is an issue? Will your relationship withstand the stress of an employer directing employee? Most times this will not....... Many a friendships have ended where you are trying to help them out by hiring them to give them some money and your friends think they are doing you a favor by not charging you what they would normally charge a stranger. You both well say "I'm doing you a favor" in the middle of a problem on the job. What’s more important to you, your friendship with them or saving yourself some money? All I'm saying is to think all these issues through.

BTW, I don’t see it being cheaper to hire a Pro to do the projects by the job. I think it would be better to hire them through a temp agency.

Now the second issue about insurance and license. Your right that your friends can sue your home owner’s insurance policy if they injure themselves while working on your property. The odds of something happening are small but I wouldn't want to chance it. I would diffidently not have them up on the roof.

If you are worried about bad contractors you can do your homework ahead of time and find someone you feel safe with. Remember, whoever controls the money has the power. Only pay as you go and approve the work along the way. Stable contractors don’t need a deposit to do your work.

I hope some of this helped. I think the temp agency is the best solution.

PS: I have a friend that lives in San Diego and this is her take on this. She also works for a big remodeler out there.

I have worked personally in a past life with an uninsured person who ruined my floor. We were immediately no longer friends when he wouldn't correct the situation.
I believe that a temp agency would carry the workers comp, but no liability for property damage.
Moving electric or plumbing should be permitted, then you have the lead issue if the house is older than 1979. Many municipalities in calif audit lead safe practices if a permit is pulled.

I would have to recommend doing it the right way to reduce the chance of regrets later.

Home Improvement--General

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Jay Cipriani


How do I select a professional remodeling contractor? What needs to be in a home improvement contract to protect the home owner? General design and estimating questions. Product selection, analyzation of bad workmanship, and expectations of a remodeling process.


Cipriani Builders, Inc., now Cipriani Remodeling Solutions, is a professional, design-build remodeling firm, founded in 1978. I got into the remodeling business largely because of his father who was also a contractor. Cipriani Builders has serviced over 3,000 homes throughout the South Jersey area. They include kitchens, bathrooms, additions, windows, siding, roofing and much more.

National Association of Home Builders Remodelors Council (NAHB) American Institute of Architects West Jersey (AIA) Better Business Bureau (BBB) Builders League of South Jersey (BLSJ) National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) New Jersey Remodelers Association VP (NJRA) Tri-County Code Association Cherry Hill Chamber of Commerce Greater Woodbury Chamber of Commerce Gloucester County Chamber of Commerce National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) Remodelers Advantage IFDA, VP 2008 ASID

I was the former Host, Writer and Producer of "House and Home" show on a local South Jersey Comcast cable station. I was featured in 1998 and 1999 on The Discovery Channel's "Gimme Shelter 2". I was featured on The Discovery Channel's "Home Matters" with Susan Powell. I have written articles for the monthly trade magazine, Builder/Architect. My expertise in historical renovation received recognition through a project featured on the cover of New Jersey Contractor Magazine. I was featured in 2007 and 2008 in a CBS Channel 10 News story on the home remodeling industry as a Home Remodeling expert.

New Jersey University of Medicine and Dentistry National Association of the Remodeling Industry Certified Remodeler Program

Awards and Honors
• 30 years of building and remodeling • Cipriani Builders has been featured in the Courier Post, Gloucester County Times, and Philadelphia Inquirer. • Professional Remodeler magazine ran a feature article on Cipriani Builders. • Cipriani Builders were featured in Design / Build Business. This magazine is used a resource among residential design / build professionals and their customers. • Qualified Remodeler magazine listed Cipriani Builders, Inc. as one of the Top 500 Companies Nationally. We continue to move up each year. • Remodeling Magazine added Cipriani Builders to their Big 50 “Hall of Fame”. • Cipriani Builders received the National Contractor of the Year Award for company image from NARI. • Cipriani Builders was awarded the Valuestar Customer-Rated Gold Seal for consistently delivering high customer satisfaction and for passing the qualification steps of insurance, legal, financial status, and state license requirements.

Past/Present Clients
Over 3000 clients in the South Jersey area.

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