Which Is Better for Your Project: General Contractor or Handyman?

When you own a home, you often have both small and large projects. You might need to add some shelves in the laundry room or you could decide to remodel the bathroom. For different types of projects, you often need to decide whether to hire a handyman or a contractor. Each can do specific jobs for you. But what’s the difference between a handyman and contractor? How do I know which one to hire?


What is a Handyman?

A handyman is exactly what the name implies: a person who is handy and can perform a variety of household tasks. A handyman is unlicensed. In general, anyone can call himself or herself a handyman, but each handyman has unique skills. Some people are trained painters, while others prefer to work outside.


A list of handyman jobs might include:

  • Pressure washing the outside of a house or deck
  • Removing outdoor mold
  • Removing brush
  • Repairing an appliance
  • Doing minor HVAC repairs
  • Painting
  • Doing minor plumbing repairs
  • Repairing drywall
  • Repairing tile in the bathroom or kitchen
  • Hanging pictures and curtains
  • Repairing a fence


What is a Contractor

There are several different types of contractors, but they all have earned some form of licensure. A general contractor is the general manager of a project. The person organizes the project and makes sure deadlines are met. States usually require a specific license for a general contractor. A contractor, on the other hand, is generally a specialty trade person. They range from electrical contractors to HVAC contractors. These types of contractors have licenses for specific skills. They generally perform specific types of jobs and have a strong understanding of a certain trade.


How do I know whether to hire a handyman or a contractor?

Define the project

Hiring the right person for your job is critical. The scope and size of a project will dictate what you need: small repairs or kitchen grout work are generally something that can be done by hand, but larger projects may require contractors with experience in their respective fields; some jobs do not necessarily lend themselves well to either type so think carefully before making this decision!

Do you need a building permit

A building permit is authorization from a government entity to perform construction work, and a large construction project requires a building permit. When a building permit is necessary, you will need to hire a licensed contractor. You will need to check with the local building department, because counties and cities have different requirements on when a building permit is needed. Codes tend to reflect regional issues, so it’s hard to make broad generalizations about when you will need to get a building permit.

Are you willing to pay?

A handyman is less expressive than a contractor. When deciding between a handyman and a contractor, you must first determine how much you are willing to pay for the service. A handyman’s hourly rate ranges between $45 and $65 per hour, but some may charge more. An electrician can earn between $60 and $125 per hour. A licensed HVAC repair person typically costs $75 to $100, but there are often minimum charges to have someone come to your house.

Do specialty tasks need to be performed?

The handyman is a generalist, but the contractor can perform specific tasks. You want to hire someone who has experience in plumbing and electrical work because it’s important for these jobs not only to be done well, they need special equipment too! That means hiring an experienced plumber or electrician instead of just doing something yourself with no knowledge behind how things should go down – even if all you know how to do on a day-to-day basis are basic maintenance tasks like replacing light fixtures and putting up door hinges.

Check reviews when hiring

When hiring a contractor or a handyman, you should always check their reviews. You can find handyman and contractor reviews on Angie’s List, Google, Yelp, and other review sites. If people do good work, people will give good reviews. You don’t want to hire someone to do work on your house when the person consistently gets bad reviews.

When to Use a General Contractor

  • If the scope of the project is large and complex, such as an entire renovation or new construction, then hiring a general contractor may be what you need. Depending on the degree of intricacy involved in parts of your project, such as plumbing or electrical services, having specialists to handle those aspects may provide you with more value than relying on one person’s to-do list. This could be especially true if you have a tight timeline and budget.
  • If you need permits and inspections: Almost all construction projects require some level of government approval, such as a building permit or occupancy permit. The process for obtaining this can be lengthy and complicated, so hiring someone who is experienced with the red tape involved will not only save time but also could result in fewer costly mistakes. When you are doing extensive work on your house, it is important that everything meets code standards. Your contractor should be able to provide guidance on what permits are required whether or not they are managing the application process for you.

When to Use a Handyman

That said, there are some things which might make hiring a handyperson better suited to your particular project. These include:

  • That the scope of the work is small and simple, such as replacing a light fixture or repairing some cabinets;
  • That you already have the tools needed to do the job;
  • That you plan on doing any construction or renovation yourself (i.e., on your own time) with no impact on your day-to-day life;
  • If it’s not critical for all aspects of your project to be completed immediately;
  • If this is an infrequent recurring task that needs to be done around the house. Why choose between professional trade services when most projects can benefit from both? A contractor is best suited for large, complex home improvement projects while a handyman may be better suited for smaller, simple projects.

When you are doing an extensive renovation or new construction on your house, it would be best to have a general contractor. If you want someone with experience to handle the red tape of getting permits and inspections but don’t need expert help completing the project itself, then hiring a general contractor may be right for you. However, there are cases where it makes more sense to just hire a handyman for small tasks that require no outside assistance other than their own tools. The choice between using a general contractor or handyperson should depend on how complex your job is and if you plan on managing any aspects yourself without interfering with your regular life.


Are You Looking for a General Contractor You Can Trust?

If you’re considering a whole house, kitchen or bathroom remodel, New Key Construction, based in Walnut Creek California, is here to serve you. Our passion is to be the home for talented craftsmen who deliver beautiful projects to clients throughout the SF East Bay Area! Choosing the right general contractor for your project can be difficult, but we make things easy by focusing on Your Experience, Client Communication, Cutting Edge Technology and Pushing Our Design and Build Limits!  If we could have one goal, it would be that when someone you know is looking for a contractor you highly recommend our company because of the experience we deliver for you! Check out our website, our portfolio and our reviews to learn more – or give us a call today.

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