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Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Carpenter in Phoenix

In 2020 alone, about 76% of homeowners embarked on at least one home improvement project. Some 21% of these homeowners reportedly embarked on a home improvement project to increase the market value of their home, with another 21% citing increased comfort as their reason. However, regardless of your reason for planning a home improvement project, you need to engage the services of a professional contractor, especially regarding carpentry and woodworking improvements and repairs. Considering the table saw and other woodworking machinery can potentially cause over 50,000 injuries annually, it is particularly crucial to engage a professional and skilled carpenter for your woodworking needs to avoid injuries and other carpentry hazards.

When searching for a good carpenter near you, you can rely on the recommendations of friends, family, and colleagues. However, you should also make some findings to ensure that the carpenter you decide to hire is the right pick for the job. In making these findings, you should get answers to the following questions:

Are You Licensed to Practice as a Carpenter in Phoenix?

In Phoenix City, offering any carpentry services that require a permit or cost more than $1,000 without being duly licensed is considered an offense. Accordingly, this offense is punishable by over $2,000 in fines and jail terms. Carpentry licenses are issued by the Arizona Registrar of Contractors (ARC), which is the body that regulates contractors across Phoenix and other cities in Arizona. These licenses are classified into different types, including general carpentry, finish carpentry, and carpentry remodeling and repair licenses. However, before applying for any license, prospective applicants are required to meet general and specific license requirements. These requirements include nominating a qualifying individual, being 18 years or older, filing a bond, passing licensing examinations, and having managerial or practical experience with carpentry work. The required experience ranges between two to four years, depending on the license type.

After meeting these requirements, prospective applicants must complete and submit a license application form to the ARC. The submitted form is typically accompanied by stipulated license application fees and documents verifying the applicant has met licensing requirements. Such documents include a certificate of insurance, proof of experience, and proof of passing the relevant licensing examination. Applicants can explore the ARC contractor license guide webpage for detailed explanations regarding licensing requirements and processes. Applicants can also contact the ARC at (602) 542-1525 for further information and assistance.

Residents who want to confirm their desired carpenter's licensing status can do so by utilizing the ARC contractor search portal or contacting the ARC at (602) 542-1525.

How Much Do You Charge Compared to Other Carpenters in Phoenix?

Carpenters in Phoenix typically charge their clients varying hourly fees for services rendered. These charges are determined by several factors, some of which include the carpenter's experience, the type of service to be rendered, and the workforce needed to render this service. Considering this, it is advisable to compare estimates from three or more carpenters before hiring one. When you compare estimates, you find out the average rate for your project and can better find a carpenter closest to your budget.

A carpenter in Phoenix earns an annual average wage of $48,890. The table below provides a comparison of the mean hourly wage for carpenters in Phoenix against those of carpenters in the rest of the State of Arizona as well as across several other major American cities:

Phoenix Carpenters Mean Hourly Wage
Arizona Carpenters Mean Hourly Wage
Atlanta Carpenters Mean Hourly Wage
Portland Carpenters Mean Hourly Wage
Houston Carpenters Mean Hourly Wage
Miami Carpenters Mean Hourly Wage
New York City Carpenters Mean Hourly Wage
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Do You Comply with the Phoenix Building Code for Carpentry Work?

A vital consideration to have in mind before hiring a carpenter is whether this carpenter is conversant with the Phoenix Building Construction Code. The Phoenix Building Code contains several rules that generally regulate the construction, maintenance, repair, enlargement, alteration, and use of buildings across Phoenix City, including all carpentry works involved in these buildings. The provisions of the Code are designed to ensure the safety of city residents during and after any carpentry work and protect them from related hazards and dangers. As such, the provisions of the Code are mandatory, and homeowners planning any carpentry work are generally required to ensure that their contractor complies with these provisions during their home improvement project.

Non-compliance with this Code is considered an offense, which is punishable by fines of up to $2,500 per violation. If you need more clarification on the provisions of the Phoenix Building Code, Code compliance, and other relevant City Codes that may regulate your carpentry work, you can contact the Phoenix Planning and Development Department at (602) 262-7811.

Will You Get the Home Improvement Permits as Required by Phoenix Code?

Generally, any project involving the construction, alteration, or remodeling of a building requires a permit. This includes all carpentry works, except some specific works like trim works and minor carpentry repairs. Therefore, residents must ensure that their carpenter obtains the relevant permits before or immediately after starting their carpentry work.

The Phoenix Planning and Development Department (PDD) oversees permit matters across Phoenix and issues permit to eligible applicants. Permit applications for carpentry works are typically made in person. Accordingly, prospective applicants can visit the PDD office and request the relevant forms at:

Phoenix Planning & Development Department
200 West Washington Street
Second Floor
Phoenix, AZ 85003
Hours: 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., Mondays - Fridays, excluding major holidays

Alternatively, prospective applicants can first contact the PDD at (602) 262-7811 and inquire about alternative permit application processes for their carpentry work, as well as related processes and requirements. Permits issued by the PDD are generally classified into residential and commercial permits. While residential permits are for carpentry works within single-family dwellings, duplexes, and townhouse projects, commercial permits are for carpentry works within triplexes, fourplexes, condominiums, commercial buildings, and apartments. Depending on the permit type, the PDD may request that applicants submit building plans or project detail and description plans.

Upon issuing a permit, the PDD must inspect the relevant carpentry work before it is completed and finished. This inspection is typically done by a building official, and it is to confirm that the carpentry work is safe and compliant with the Phoenix Building Construction Code and other relevant City Codes. However, it is a homeowner's responsibility to schedule this inspection, and you can schedule an inspection either online or by dialing (602) 495-0800. For further assistance with scheduling an inspection and related processes, you can check the PDD's inspection scheduling webpage or contact this Department at (602) 262-7811.

What Kind of Carpentry Services Do You Offer?

Carpentry services offered by carpenters across Phoenix City vary and generally depend on their skill, license type, and clients' needs. Nevertheless, these services can be broadly classified into two, namely rough carpentry and finish carpentry. Carpenters who offer rough carpentry services typically perform woodwork-related installations and repairs in your home. This can include kitchen cabinet installations, patio building, roof installations, and window installations.

On the other hand, carpenters who offer finish carpentry services typically focus on repairing and adding more design and aesthetic detail to already installed carpentry accessories in your home. Therefore, you should confirm what type of service your desired carpenter offers before engaging this carpenter. Particularly, ensure these services are directly relevant to your planned project.

Estimated costs for some common carpentry services in Phoenix are as follow:

Carpentry framing (per square foot)
$20 - $25
Carpentry repairs (including materials)
$100 - $4,000 per hour
Exterior trim installation (including materials)
$25 - $50 per hour
Exterior trim repair (including materials)
$25 - $40 per hour
Interior trim and molding installation (per linear foot)
$5 - $8
Interior trim and molding repair (per linear foot)
$7 - $15

Do You Carry the Necessary Insurance Policy for Carpenters in Phoenix?

In Phoenix City, insurance and bond requirements are conditions carpenters must satisfy before obtaining the requisite license to offer carpentry services. To this end, carpenters are mandated to obtain workers' compensation insurance and file a bond with the Arizona Registrar of Contractors (ARC). This workers' compensation insurance requirement is mandatory to ensure that any employee of your carpenter who experiences a workplace injury during your carpentry work is adequately compensated. With the carpentry industry recording over 11,000 nonfatal workplace injuries across the country in 2019, you must protect yourself from personal expenses related to treating such injuries during your carpentry work. To do this, you must ensure your carpenter is duly insured.

Advisably, you should also hire carpenters with general liability insurance so you are further protected from personal expenses related to third-party bodily injuries and property damage that may result from your carpentry project. However, note that carpenters in Phoenix are not mandated to maintain general liability insurance.

To confirm your intended carpenter's insurance and bond status, you can ask the carpenter for the relevant proof of insurance and bond compliance. You can also contact the Industrial Commission of Arizona (ICA) at (602) 542-4661 and inquire whether your carpenter has active workers' compensation insurance, and contact the ARC at (602) 542-1525 to inquire about this carpenter's bond status.

How to File a Complaint Against a Bad Carpenter in Phoenix

In August 2021, there were reports of home improvement scams by a home improvement contractor in Phoenix, resulting in two homeowners losing nearly $6,000. Similarly, in May 2020, the ARC revoked the license of a home improvement company after over ten consumer complaints were filed against this company within one month. These complaints included reports of shoddy and poor repairs, some of which turned out true. Instances of home improvement scams or poor workmanship are not unusual in Phoenix, and several contractors operating within Phoenix are being investigated by the ARC for contractor scams and shoddy service.

Hence, with continuous reports of home improvement scams across the Phoenix City area, it has become crucial to consider and check out the reputation of your intended contractor before finalizing any agreements. This protects you from losing your money to fraudsters or engaging a poorly skilled contractor. To this end, you can do the following:

  • Confirm the licensing status of your desired carpenter. You can contact the ARC at (602) 542-1525 for assistance and further inquiries
  • Compare estimates from multiple carpenters before choosing one
  • Ask your desired carpenter to provide references from previous clients
  • Ensure your desired carpenter is duly insured and has complied with bond requirements
  • Avoid carpenters who ask personal questions not related to your project. Also, do not answer personal questions you are not comfortable with unless you are certain it is necessary for you to do so
  • Make full payment only after the carpenter has delivered a satisfactory service
  • Get a written contract with the carpenter, especially when a lot of money is involved
  • Check out the carpenter's reputation and if this carpenter is involved in any scam allegation or investigation. You can utilize consumer-dedicated websites like Better Business Bureau and Google Review to check the carpenter's reputation. You can also contact the ARC at (602) 542-1525 to confirm if the carpenter is involved in any scam allegation or investigation or is the subject of a consumer complaint

If you still get defrauded by a contractor or receive a shoddy service delivery, you can do any or both of the following:

  • Report the contractor to the ARC by submitting an online complaint or by requesting a printable complaint form and submitting the completed form to the ARC as guided.
  • Sue the contractor through a small claims suit at the Maricopa County Justice Courts and seek compensation. Note that you cannot request more than $3,500 as compensation in a small claims suit. Also, note that it is advisable to contact a qualified attorney for legal assistance before commencing such legal action.