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We have 3 joists and 2 small sections (< 5') of sill plate that have dry rot and some missing siding. Do we need a general contractor? Or could someone like a carpenter (or other type of contractor) generally repair this?
 

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Self employed carpenter can call themselves a contractor, although a contractor may not necessarily have the skills. It's better to look for one, regardless of a title, through reference. Get 3 estimates and ask for copy of insurance, call the insurance to verify.
 

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I definately agree with carpdad! I would be seriously looking at experience, and most importantly one who will correct the problem the right way. Get at least three estimates, and details of the work, such as type of wood they plan on using, flashing, ect. Let us know what you find out. From ones I have done in the past, it always seems improper flashing is the culprit! I would be interested in knowing if this problem of yours exists by a deck? Ive posted some pictures of a recent one.
 

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Got any pictures?
Need someone smart enought to first figure out why it happened and take corrective action not just replace what's there.
I agree 99% of the time I see that kind of damage is because someone installed a deck or stoop wrong.
 
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