Handyman, Builder & Remedial Building Specialist Difference

25 January 2021
By Jeff Anderson

Our digital agency once said to us when explaining a concept to us “Everyone can brush their teeth, but it doesn’t make you a dentist”. It was in that moment that I realised the truth of this statement for a lot of the work we do.

As often as not when we are called to quote on a job, we see areas where repairs have been attempted (we’re talking hastily patched concrete, a coat of paint, a new flashing and so forth) but hear from the strata manager or owners that the problem has persisted and they do not know what to do.

To our trained eyes and through the course of time, we’ve learned the reasons are often simple; whilst different trades may know enough to do a good surface job, they either don’t know how diagnose the issue, or choose to take the easy way and do a slap and dash job on the problem. To extend the use of the metaphor our brilliant digital agency use, the client now know they have a cavity, and can’t brush away the issue, they need a dentist to identify where the cavity is and the best way to fix it.

In line with this, we thought we’d take the opportunity to explain a bit more about the difference between the work we do and that of general builders and handymen and where each may be best suited to offer you the full value of their expertise – after all we know you don’t always need us either. Ultimately, we want to help you know what to look for, understand what you are spending over time on something, and ascertain if the size and skills involved would be appropriate for a handyman, builder or a building repairs specialist.

If we boil it down as a summary:

  • For the most part a handyman can handle little fix jobs, and help with general maintenance. Things like hanging and painting a new door, fixing a cracked tile, clearing gutters and pipes to stop them overflowing, or repairing broken items fit into their wheelhouse.
  • Bigger projects where several different specialty trades might be required, may mean you need a builder. Similarly, if you are building something new you might need to enlist a builder. In comparison to a handyman, we’re talking things like extensions, moving a doorway and re-hanging/painting doors, removing entire apartment bathroom tiles and renovating, or organising for new electricals to be installed.
  • Where the work involves structural repair, a remediation specialist may be needed. The type of work we do as remediation specialists includes identifying why a door may no longer be plumb and taking steps to fix it, working out why water is seeping into an indoor space when the gutters all seem fine, repairing cracked concrete which keeps reappearing no matter how many times it is patched, or replacing faulty waterproofing are a few of the things we specialise in.
What is a handyman and what can they do?

Generally, anyone can call him/herself a handyman, especially if they have a knack for repairing things. As a “catch all-term” it can literally encompass ANYTHING, but it normally centres around property and involves tasks such as repair, maintenance and improvement of a property.

Across Australia, there is not a requirement for a handyman to be licensed, though some are as a result of a previous career. However, as a result, there are some projects a handyman may not be licensed to do. Should your project require specialist work such as adding in sumps, rewiring electrical circuits, or changing a structure, your handyman may need to be licenced – or should not do the work, as to do so, would mean you may not be covered under insurance should something go awry.

You will need to hire a specialised contractor if he or she isn’t licensed, you’ll need to hire specialized experts that are. You could otherwise be financially liable in the event damages occur. Or, if in the case where you want to sell the property, you could end up paying more to fix issues to meet local code requirements.

What is a builder?

While there are different sorts of building contractors, a common element is they all have a builders license. They may specialise in different areas (eg, renovations, new builds, apartment building, pool building and so forth), but they do this as a qualified and independently verified tradesperson.
Generally speaking, “A builder” may be responsible for a job, but will use specialise sub-contractors to complete certain items which in themselves, may require a further qualification. This may include, electricians, plumbers, roofing companies, air-conditioning specialists and so forth. But generally speaking, the builder will be responsible for providing the essential hardware (Scaffolding as an example), access to site and oversee administration required to finish your job.
Working hand-in-hand, builders and subcontractors strive towards the completion a development venture using pre-approved plans to ensure the work progresses as you expect it to. This is in contrast to a handyman who may need to adapt on the go, and as such finish a job in a way which may not be to your complete liking.

What is a Remedial Building Specialist?

Builders are great at construction – either of new buildings entirely, or the addition of new sections – but are not necessarily as adept at remediation. That is, they (should) excel at creating something, but are not good at identifying the issue and then taking steps to rectify problems which are identified.

That is where we come in. We know that problems arise for multiple reasons and do not look to treat the visible signs of an issue (like a handyman), nor do we try to build over them or replace the faulty item (like a builder may), but instead will seek to identify the issue, work out the best way to resolve the issue with as little impact on residents as possible and then develop a plan which we share with you so you know what we are doing. See we figure, the results you get should be ones which not only work, but which you are happy with.

At the core of our team we have staff who hold builder licences, Masters of Engineering qualifications, Fire-engineering qualifications and as importantly experience in working in the field – allowing them to know intuitively, what the problems may be and how to uncover them. With the problem identified, we then take work to remediate the issue – pulling away concrete, tiles, waterproofing, windows, bricks etc as necessary – to expose the issue and then fix it properly.

Our focus is on large residential (apartment complexes), commercial (office buildings), industrial (warehouses and production facilities) and tertiary (Universities, hotels, schools, and similar) buildings where the scope of work is often larger than a handyman may identify.

Founded in 1969, Remedial Building Services provides a one stop shop for specialist building repair and upgrade services to commercial and large residential buildings, spanning Remedial Building repairs, building upgrades and rectification, Commercial flooring, Fire upgrade orders, Façade maintenance, and insurance compliance orders.

With over 50 plus years’ experience our Remedial building specialists deliver a comprehensive range of services to fit the needs of thousands of client. Today we are one of NSW’s most trusted providers of residential and commercial building solutions and one of the largest as well. Independently qualified, we pride ourselves on our level of expertise and our commitment to providing only the best building solutions.

As industry pioneers, we continually look to create and utilize best-practices in the field. We utilise only the best products and certified methodologies in our work and work closely with product suppliers, engineers and industry bodies to give you the peace of mind to know our recommendations and our workmanship are second to none.
As a Building Specialist, we have acquired various professional accreditations including:

  • SO9001:2000 accreditation
  • ISO14001:2004 accreditation
  • ACRA membership
  • SCA membership
  • HIA membership
  • FMA membership
  • Master Painter’s Association

But do not just take our word on this, check out some of our case studies, or contact our office to ask about different clients, engineers and strata managers we can put you in touch with who will verify that the work we do, not only fixes the issues, but improves the look, function and value of a building.