What’s the difference between a Handyman and a Contractor?

Pro Tip
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3 Min
Haylie Lapinskas

What’s the difference between a Handyman and a Contractor? 

I get asked all the time if I can recommend a contractor. It’s actually one of the hardest questions I get asked.

The reason it's difficult to recommend a contractor is because it all depends on the type of work you are looking for, the timeline, and scope. You could have a simple painting job that just requires a painter. But as soon as you want to replace that dated stair banister, or add crown moulding, you are now talking about scheduling a different tradesman.

Oftentimes, the perfect solution to smaller scale projects is a Handyman.

Handman remodel

Handymen are often a jack of all trades. They can paint a little here, change out your faucet, and install that beautiful 6” trim you have been dreaming of. Typically a handyman works as a one man show. They tackle smaller scale projects where licensing is not required.

However, as soon as you enter into larger scale projects, licensed trades are required. Your typical trades that require licenses are plumbing, electrical, and HVAC. This is where a General Contractor comes into play.

Construction in progress

A General Contractor hires different trade experts to work under their umbrella. They will have a plumber, a carpenter, an electrician all under their wing.  They will schedule these different trades to successfully timeline out the work so that the work is done in correct succession.

So it really depends on your project.

The two questions you should ask yourself:

  1. Size?
  2. Scope?

The larger the job, the more likely licenses will be required. And more scope typically requires a variety of tradesmen. Below are a couple examples of when to use a Handyman or Contractor

Project A: You need to repaint your first floor and replace the baseboards throughout. You also want to refinish the hardwood and repair the leaky faucet. For this, a Handyman would work great! They could handle all of these tasks easily.

Project B: You would like to remove the load bearing wall from the kitchen and replace all cabinets, counters and tile. You will paint throughout the entire home and change all light fixtures, even add a few new ones. For this project, you are going to want to hire a Contractor. This project requires multiple different trades and licenses.

Overall, every project is different. Here’s my interior design plug! If you hire an Interior Designer first, we can help you navigate how to find the best Handyman or Contractor to make your space come to life.

HaylieRead construction drawing

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