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Handyman, installer, trade contractor, general contractor, Design/Build and Builder are the most common types of contractors found in our industry today. Below I will explain what each of these mean and what they may be able to help you with.
- Handyman – Simply put, they are “a jack of all trades but a master of none.” The handyman is ideal for small basic projects around the house such as making minor repairs and sealing, patching or painting touch-up projects. Generally speaking, when considering a handyman think of projects that can be completed in less than 2 days on a part-time schedule. In most cases handy- men are not licensed and/or insured, therefore I would refrain from hiring them to perform any major electrical or plumbing work. If you’re willing to spend a little more money you can find a licensed and insured professional handyman company. In my opinion, well worth the money to know you’re dealing with a professional.
- Installer – An installer is typically an expert in one particular type of project or trade. For example, a tile setter, drywall finisher, painter, siding installer, etc. They are heavily experienced in what they do but be careful when thinking of expanding their work into other scopes of your projects. In most cases they work as a Sub-Con- tractor for a General Contractor and are not licensed or insured. Make sure to ask for a copy of their license and a Certificate of Insurance.
- Trade Contractor – A trade contractor consists of individuals that perform a specific job (i.e. plumber, electrician, HVAC Tech). They have attended some sort of related technical school, been certified and are considered experts in their trade. Certifications range and can top out at a “Master” level. Trade contractors that have reached a “Master” level are allowed to pull permits for work. They are licensed and insured but always ask.
- General Contractor – General Contractors will typically have you select all your materials and fixtures on your own or have you work with a designer or architect. Then they provide a labor cost estimate as well as cost for building materials needed to complete the work. States, including the District of Columbia, require General Contractors to be licensed in the locale in which they are working and are required to carry liability insurance. They rarely have their own employees as they typically hire subcontractors to perform the physical aspects of the work. One question I suggest asking a General Contractor is “Will you have a Project Manager overseeing the project?” Without a Project Manager, you, the homeowner, will be responsible for doing a lot of your own project management and quality control.
- Design/Build/Remodeler – This combines a General Contractor with a Design and Project Management Team. This is your one-stop-shop. They will handle the entire project from design, through material and fixture purchases, all the way through completion of construction. They are a team that works together and is typically more involved in the project and truly cares about the outcome. They tend to take more of a partnership approach with the home- owner throughout the project. Typically hired for larger more complex projects like kitchens, bathrooms, whole house remodels, additions and some build custom homes.
- Architect/Builder – Although these two job titles are separate and hired independently, I’ve combined them because they need to work together. The architect would work with you to design your project and the builder/general contractor to build it. That approach has become less popular with the growth of De- sign/Build companies. Generally, that was due to multiple issues arising in part due to lack of understanding the others role, cohesion between the two and cost-control issues.
Regardless of which contractor you use, it should go without saying that you ask (and work with) a licensed and insured professional! Request physical copy of license and Certificate of Insurance.