Handyman vs. General Contractor

Updated October 5, 2023
12 min read
Handyman vs. General Contractor


When it comes to fixing or beautifying your property, understanding the difference between a handyman and a general contractor is crucial. Each option presents unique benefits, depending on the scope of your project. So, let's unravel the 'handyman vs. contractor' puzzle by digging deeper into their roles, services offered, and the nitty-gritty of their operation.

The Concept of a Handyman

A handyman, or a "handyman contractor," is often a jack-of-all-trades, equipped with the skills to tackle a broad spectrum of minor home repair or maintenance tasks. From repairing leaky faucets to assembling furniture to painting rooms, their expertise is a valuable asset in maintaining a home's condition. Moreover, hiring a handyman usually does not necessitate a handyman contract, which simplifies procedure relative to that of a contractor.

The 'handyman vs. contractor' debate often leans towards the simplicity of hiring a handyman, especially since it usually does not necessitate a handyman contract. This contrasts with the more complicated process when engaging a contractor. There are, however, various reasons why employing templates, like a handyman contract, can be beneficial:

  1. Protection: A well-drafted contract protects both parties from potential misunderstandings and disputes.

  2. Clarity: It provides a clear outline of what the task demands, avoiding confusion regarding duties and responsibilities.

  3. Cost-efficiency: By outlining the scope of work and agreed charges it helps control costs, contributing to financial efficiency.

  4. Professionalism: Using a template demonstrates professionalism and serious intent, which could enhance the overall service experience.

  5. Legal compliance: Templates often include legal stipulations crucial for compliance, helping anticipate and avoid any legal hassles. 

These pointers mark a stark reminder that whilst engaging a handyman might seem simple in the 'handyman vs. contractor' dichotomy, maintaining a written, contractual understanding could reinforce the integrity of the engagement.

Handyman Roles and Typical Job Tasks

Speaking to the 'contractor vs. handyman' debate, it's important to illustrate typical handyman responsibilities. Handymen handle tasks like installing fixtures, repairing drywall, and performing minor plumbing work. They thrive on smaller projects that usually don't require a permit. By contrast, the scope and complexity of tasks define a handyman contractor, setting the context for the 'handyman vs. contractor' analysis.

Pros and Cons of Hiring a Handyman

Choosing between a handyman and a contractor can be a daunting task for homeowners. In the vast landscape of 'handyman vs. contractor', hiring a handyman contractor presents a spectrum of advantages and disadvantages that one should understand to make an educated choice. 

Advantages of Hiring a Handyman:
  • Cost-effective: One of the biggest draws of hiring a handyman is that compared to contractors, they usually charge less, making the 'handyman vs. contractor' decision financially favorable in some cases.
  • Efficient for minor tasks: If you're dealing with smaller, 'do-it-yourself' type tasks that don't require extensive technical knowledge or tools, handymen can be an effective solution.
Disadvantages of Hiring a Handyman:
  • Limited expertise on complex projects: Leaning towards the handyman side in the 'handyman vs. contractor' consideration can become an issue for complex, specialized projects that demand a certain level of expertise.
  • Incompatibility with permit-required tasks: If the project is substantial or requires city permits or inspections, a handyman might not be the best fit. In such scenarios, the 'handyman vs. contractor' balance often tips towards contractors.

Remember, the best choice in the 'handyman vs. contractor' problem ultimately depends on the specifics of your project — its size, scope, and the expertise it necessitates.

What Is a General Contractor?

Distilling the essence of 'contractor vs. handyman,' let's delve into the role of a general contractor. A general contractor oversees extensive projects and coordinates the work of specialized subcontractors. They're usually responsible for obtaining necessary permits, thereby ensuring adherence to building codes and regulations. Part of the tasks that general contractors often take on include large-scale renovations or construction projects.

General Contractor Roles and Typical Job Tasks

In the complex 'handyman vs. contractor' dialogue, the role of a general contractor often leans more towards managing larger-scale operations. The tasks embraced by a general contractor diverge significantly from those of a handyman, providing a more comprehensive scope of services. Let's delve into those tasks to further articulate the 'handyman vs. contractor' conversation:

  1. Schedule coordination: A general contractor manages the project timeline efficiently to ensure the operations proceed smoothly.

  2. Subcontractor management: Contrasting starkly with the 'handyman vs. contractor' theme, general contractors hire and supervise subcontractors, ensuring their work aligns with project objectives.

  3. Permit acquisition: Unlike a handyman contractor, a general contractor assumes the responsibility of securing necessary permits, and ensuring regulatory compliance.

  4. Specialized service coordination: They carry the expertise to handle jobs requiring specific skills or substantial investment that might be outside a handyman's purview.

Reflecting upon the 'handyman vs. contractor' analysis, it's apparent that projects demanding specialized work or vast resources often fit better under a general contractor's scope than a handyman contractor. Your choice, however, should align with your distinct project needs and goals.

Pros and Cons of Hiring a General Contractor

Choosing between a contractor and a handyman can often seem like an all-pun's intended, daunting task. As we tread further in our 'contractor vs. handyman' discourse, it's important to take into account the benefits and potential drawbacks of opting for a general contractor. 

Advantages of Hiring a General Contractor:
  • Ability to handle large-scale projects: The 'contractor vs. handyman' balance often leans towards the contractor when it comes to managing substantial projects. Contractors typically have workforce, equipment, and experience to efficiently manage larger projects.
  • Regulatory compliance: In the face of local codes and regulations, general contractors ensure compliance, thus providing peace of mind.
  • Greater array of services: General contractors often offer a broader scope of services compared to a handyman contractor, allowing them to handle specialized tasks.
Disadvantages of Hiring a General Contractor:
  • Cost: On the 'contractor vs. handyman' scale, contractors usually command a higher price due to their comprehensive services and operational needs.
  • Not suitable for small tasks: For minor tasks — like fixing a broken pipe — a handyman might be a more cost-effective and speedy solution.

It's crucial to analyze each side in this 'contractor vs. handyman' discussion and make a decision that aligns best with your project's specifics, budget, and timeline. 

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Understanding 'handyman vs. contractor' helps homeowners make informed decisions. Consult with lawyers who work with business-related issues if you're about to undertake a significant renovation project. Explore other business-related templates and documents for more insight, and check out Lawrina, a reliable legal tech ecosystem, for reliable advice.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the typical cost difference between a handyman and a contractor?

In the U.S., handymen often charge less as they are typically employed for less complex tasks, with national averages ranging from $60 to $65 per hour. 


Conversely, general contractors who manage large-scale projects could charge from $50 to $100 per hour or price per project, justifying their higher costs due to their broader skill set and project management service.

Can a handyman perform the same jobs as a contractor?

While a handyman can tackle a variety of minor repairs and maintenance tasks — such as fixing a dripping faucet or hanging pictures — they may lack the extensive, specialized roles demanded by jobs a general contractor might undertake, like building a home extension or managing a complete home renovation.

Do I need a handyman or a contractor for a small home improvement project?

If your small home improvement project involves minor tasks such as fixing a door knob, installing a light fixture, or patching a wall, hiring a handyman can often be a significantly more cost-efficient choice. 


However, in the broader 'handyman vs. contractor' discussion, always remember to check local regulations, as some areas may limit the kind of tasks a handyman can legally perform.

When should I absolutely hire a contractor instead of a handyman?

If the project is large-scale, highly specialized, or requires permits and inspections, hiring a licensed contractor should be your go-to option. Several U.S. states require a contractor's license for projects over $500, which must factor into your 'handyman vs. contractor' decision.

Can a handyman become a contractor? How?

Yes, a handyman can certainly transition to becoming a contractor, but it usually involves gaining additional specialized skills, often through further training or vocational programs. Moreover, they must acquire a state-specific contractor's license, satisfying criteria related to experience, financial standing, and a passed trade examination.