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Monica D. Higgins / Build  / Contractor vs. Handyman

Contractor vs. Handyman

In the quest to save money, homeowners often hire handymen for work that should be done by licensed contractors.  Why, because either they don’t know the difference between a contractor and a handyman or they are focused on the lowest price.  

Let’s take a look at what each one does so you can see the difference between a contractor and a handyman.

Contractor vs. Handyman

Trade contractors are licensed specialists with expertise in specific areas.  There are nearly sixty specialty contractor classifications, including one’s you’ve heard of quite often such as electrical, plumbing and HVAC.  If any of these types of projects require permits, hire a licensed trade contractor to pull the permits, perform the work and coordinate the inspections and re-inspections, if necessary.  For example, you wouldn’t need a licensed electrician to install a ceiling fan. However, you would need a licensed electrician (and a permit) to upgrade an electrical panel. This is an important distinction because if something goes wrong as a result of the work completed by an unlicensed contractor, you could be on the hook legally and financially.  

General contractors are licensed professionals responsible for assembling a team of trade specialists to work on a comprehensive project, like a remodel. This might include plumbers, electricians, HVAC professionals, as well as, tile installers, painters, cabinet, countertop and window professionals, and other skilled workers necessary to complete your project. He or she puts together the project master plan, notes the critical path of what must be done, in what order, and by what time to meet deadlines.  He or she will also note all requirements for permits and inspections, pull permits and coordinate the inspections, then handle any deficiencies noted by the inspectors and schedule re-inspection.

Handymen are “Jacks of all trades, masters of none.”  They can perform a variety of tasks based on their experience with the tasks and the tools necessary to complete them. A qualified handyman could replace a toilet, while a licensed plumber would need to change your plumbing lines.  

Who Should You Hire?

The size and scope of work, as well as the level of experience and expertise determines whether a contractor or a handyman is a better fit for your project.  Most home repairs and home maintenance needs can be handled by a handyman. Larger jobs requiring multiple trades should be handled by a contractor.  

Many remodeling horror stories are a result of hiring a handyman to do a contractor’s job. Let that sink in.  Hire wisely so you don’t become the next remodeling horror story.

Monica D. Higgins

Monica previously helped people find new homes as a licensed real estate agent before she founded Renovation Planners, a construction management firm dedicated to helping homeowners avoid remodeling horror stories. Today, Monica is honored to share her knowledge of the construction industry in a variety of ways, so homeowners and industry pros alike can experience Remodel Success.

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