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Get Quotes from Top Carpenters in Seattle, WA

Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Carpenter in the City of Seattle

According to a study, many homeowners in the United States carry out exterior replacements, including carpentry works such as roofing, siding, windows, and exterior doors, which improves the aesthetic appeal and overall value of a building. These types of projects accounted for 20% of total homeowners expenditure in the United States, as many homeowners are willing to spend more to increase the curb appeal of their building. Hiring a good carpenter in Seattle to handle this type of home improvement and remodeling work improves the structural integrity of your building while making your building very attractive and comfortable to live in.

You can find good carpenters in Seattle by searching third-party directories or asking for referrals from friends, neighbors, and family. However, it is your responsibility to scrutinize the individual you intend to hire to determine if they can handle your carpentry work. You can do this by asking the following questions:

Are You Licensed to Practice as a Carpenter in the City of Seattle?

Anyone who intends to provide carpentry services in Seattle must hold the appropriate specialty contractor registration certificate issued by the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries. A specialty contractor registration certificate permits its holder to perform work related to the particular specialty they are registered in. Acting as a specialty contractor or providing carpentry service for which a specialty contractor registration certificate is required without the appropriate registration certificate carries substantial penalties and fines.

Carpentry work-related specialty contractor registration certificate types issued by the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries include:

  • Cabinets, millwork, and finish carpentry specialty contractor registration certificate
  • Closets specialty contractor registration certificate
  • Framing and rough carpentry contractor registration certificate
  • Siding specialty contractor register certificate

To register as a contractor in any of the aforementioned construction work specialties, interested persons must register their business with the State's Department of Revenue, get a surety bond or assignment of savings, purchase a general liability insurance policy, and mail a completed, signed, and notarized contractor registration application form to:

Contractor Registration
P.O. Box 44450
Olympia, WA 98504-4450

In Washington, a contractor registration application is processed and activated within three to four weeks after submission. However, once your business is registered, it will be listed on the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries, verify a contractor, tradesperson, or business tool. This tool allows you to verify the registration status of the individual you intend to hire before finalizing any agreement for your construction or home improvement work. For more information concerning the requirements and processes for obtaining a carpentry-related specialty, contractor registration contact the Washington State Department of Labor and Industry at (360) 902-5226.

How Much Do You Charge Compared to Other Carpenters in the City of Seattle?

While the hourly rate for carpentry services in Seattle depends on common factors like the type of work, the cost of materials, and the amount of labor required to complete the work, carpenters may charge different prices for the same work depending on their availability for the job. Accordingly, it is always crucial to get a second opinion on any home improvement work you want to do. You can do this by getting and comparing multiple estimates from different carpenters. This will help you choose the right carpenter while ensuring that you do not pay more than the average market price for the job.

A carpenter in the City of Seattle earns an annual average wage of $69,160. The table below provides a comparison of the mean hourly wage for carpenters in the City of Seattle against those of carpenters in the rest of the State of Washington as well as across several other major American cities:

Seattle Carpenters Mean Hourly Wage
Washington Carpenters Mean Hourly Wage
New York City Carpenters Mean Hourly Wage
Chicago Carpenters Mean Hourly Wage
Houston Carpenters Mean Hourly Wage
Phoenix Carpenters Mean Hourly Wage
Boston Carpenters Mean Hourly Wage
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Do You Comply with the City of Seattle Building Code for Carpentry Work?

The Seattle Building Code is a set of rules regulating the construction and occupancy of any building or structure in the city. These include, but are not limited to, rules governing the designs of electrical systems, mechanical systems, plumbing systems, and woodwork involved in the construction, alteration, and improvement of a structure or building. Before hiring a carpenter in Seattle, you should always confirm if the individual is familiar with the Building Code. Anyone who intends to perform carpentry work involved in the construction or alteration of a building or structure in Seattle must be conversant with chapter 23 of the Seattle Building Code, which establishes the minimum requirements for the design of buildings or structures that use wood and wood-based products.

Hiring a carpenter that is not familiar with the Building Code, especially the rules regulating carpentry work, increases the chances of code violations and potential city fines. To reduce your chances of code violations that may result from carpentry work, you should always ensure that the carpenter that you intend to hire is conversant with the Building Code. You can also reduce the chances of code violations by reading and familiarizing yourself with the Seattle Building Code. You can contact the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections at (206) 684-8850 to find out more about the provisions of the city's Building Code.

Will You Get the Home Improvement Permits as Required by the City of Seattle Code?

Per the requirements of section 106 of the Seattle Building Code, a permit is required before you can erect, construct, enlarge, alter, repair, and improve a building or part of a building within the City of Seattle. Failure to obtain the required permits before starting a home improvement, remodeling, or construction project can attract a fine of not more than $500 per violation each day. Nevertheless, it is not all activities involved in the construction or alteration of a building that requires a permit. Some plumbing, mechanical, and carpentry-related work do not require a permit. Listed below are some carpentry works that do not require a building permit:

  • Installation of kitchen cabinets
  • Display cases, cabinets, counters, and partitions not over 5 feet 9 inches high
  • Replacement of siding that does not involve structural changes such as replacement of sheathings or alteration to doors and windows

While it is not every carpentry work that requires a permit, residents of Seattle must ensure that their home improvement, remodeling, and construction work comply with the city's Building Code even where no permit is required.

The Seattle Department of Constructions and Inspections is the agency that handles the issuance of permits for home improvement and construction work. However, you must apply for and meet the requirements for obtaining the permit before a building permit can be issued to you. To obtain a building permit, the applicant must identify and describe the type of work to be done, the land where such work will be done, construction documents including plans and specifications, and the valuation of the construction or home improvement work. Interested persons can apply for a building permit online or by calling (206) 684-8850.

Besides issuance of building permits, the city's Department of Construction and Inspections also performs inspections on home improvement or construction work for which a permit was issued. It is the responsibility of the homeowner or owner's authorized agent to notify the Building Official that the work for which a permit was obtained is ready for inspection. You can request inspections for construction or home improvement projects involving woodwork online or by calling (206) 684-8900. To schedule an inspection, you must provide their permit number, name, and phone number. The city's Department of Construction and Inspections also maintains the District Inspector map that allows homeowners to find their inspector. You can find the name and telephone number of your inspector on the aforementioned map, and you can also inform the inspector about the progress of the project before scheduling an inspection. However, if you discover that you made a mistake on the project after scheduling an inspection and you want to rectify the problem before your inspector arrives, you can call (206) 684-8950 to cancel the scheduled inspection. For further inquiries concerning building permits and inspections call the city's Department of Construction and Inspections at (206) 684-8600.

What Kind of Carpentry Services Do You Offer?

Seattle carpenters generally provide two kinds of carpentry services. The two carpentry service types provided by Seattle carpenters include rough carpentry and finish carpentry. Rough carpentry includes every kind of woodwork that focuses on the skeleton of the building's roof, wall, and floors, and they are usually not visible after completion of the project. On the other hand, finish carpentry generally involves all the woodwork that is done after the structure of the home has been completed. Examples of finish carpentry include the installation of doors, trims, moldings, cabinets, and shelving. While both carpentry services are necessary for the completion of your construction and home improvement work, the type of carpentry service you need is usually determined by the stage you have reached in your construction or home improvement work. However, you should always ask the individual you intend to hire if they can provide the type of carpentry service you need. More so, you should also confirm that the carpenter has the necessary tools and equipment they need to handle your project. Once you have confirmed that the carpenter is competent to handle your job, you can now discuss the cost of the particular carpentry service you need.

Listed below are the average cost of some carpentry services in Seattle:

Interior trim and molding installation (with mid-grade trim or molding)
$8.41- $9.45 per linear foot
Carpentry framing (for unfinished home addition framing)
$24.66 - $28.79 per square foot
Carpentry framing (for new home framing)
$28 - $30
Exterior trim installation/removal
$26 - $43 per linear foot
Exterior trim repair
$1- $2.50 per square foot
Residential carpentry
$33 - $70 per hour
Built-in wardrobe and furniture construction
$120 - $200 per hour

Do You Carry the Necessary Insurance Policy for Carpenters in the City of Seattle?

Specialty contractors in Seattle are mandatorily required by the State of Washington to purchase a general liability insurance policy as part of the requirements for obtaining a specialty contractor registration certificate. These contractors include, but are not limited to, cabinets, millwork, and finish carpentry specialty contractors, closets specialty contractors, framing and rough carpentry contractors, and siding specialty contractors.

When considering hiring a carpenter near you, it is always important to ensure that the individual is insured as this protects you from claims that may result from work accidents that occur during your construction or home improvement work. You can ensure that the carpenter is insured by asking for their insurance certificate and contacting the insurance company that issued the certificate. This is particularly important because carpenters make use of tools that may lead to injuries such as nail guns, chainsaws, and wood chippers. It is estimated that nail guns are responsible for over 37,000 emergency room visits annually with 68 percent of the 37,000 emergency visits involving construction workers.

How to File a Complaint Against a Bad Carpenter in the City of Seattle

According to a report published by the Washington State Office of the Attorney General, there were over 635 contractor fraud complaints across Washington in 2019, which makes home improvement scams one of the notorious consumer scams in the state. Residents of Seattle must understand that a lot of fraudulent contractors are taking advantage of people that intend to carry out home improvement or remodeling projects across Washington. In 2020, a fraudulent contractor was ordered to pay back $11, 000 to ten victims after failing to complete the home improvement job they paid for. These victims include homeowners from Pierce County, Thurston County, and King County, especially the City of Seattle.

While scammers employ various methods to steal from their victims, there are common red flags that can help you identify a fraudulent contractor. They include:

  • The contractor refuses to provide business identification, local address, and telephone number
  • The contractor pressures you to sign an agreement to get a special offer
  • The contractor insists on a cash-only deal
  • The contractor fails to provide written estimates and contracts
  • The contractor does not have verifiable references

You can also protect yourself from these scammers by taking the following steps:

  • Do not hire transient contractors. Always ensure that the individual has a verifiable business address in your city
  • Hire only registered contractors. You can verify your contractor's registration status using the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries verify a contractor, tradesperson, or business tool
  • Get estimates from two to three contractors before choosing the right person for your job
  • Ask for verifiable references and confirm if they are true
  • Hire only contractors that are duly insured
  • Get a written contract and read it thoroughly before signing an agreement
  • Avoid making full payment until the job is satisfactorily completed

You can report home improvement scams in Seattle to the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries online. You can also report fraudulent contractors to the Washington State Office of the Attorney General. You can report the matter to the Office online, by calling (800) 551-4636, or by completing and submitting a general complaint form to:

Office of the Attorney General
Consumer Protection Division
800 5th Avenue
Suite 2000
Seattle, WA 98104 - 3188

Finally, you can also sue a contractor for breaching a construction agreement in Seattle. However, you should always speak with your attorney before filing a legal action at the King County District Court.