Understanding the Differences Between General Contractors and Handyman Services

General contractor and handyman

Home improvement projects come in all different shapes and sizes. Your family may be planning to completely renovate the kitchen or build an addition, while another family has dreams of repainting the garage and replacing the kitchen floor. In certain cases the skills and expertise of general contractors are needed, but handyman services are better suited to other jobs and tasks.

How does a homeowner know which type of contractor to call? And what levels of experience and talents can they expect to find from these two different types of home improvement professionals?

What General Contractors Can Do For You

General contracting firms often have an extensive staff covering a wide range of disciplines and skills. They also have industry connections, allowing them to quickly source out reliable talent when their own staff cannot handle the project.

If you are planning a large project - renovations, finishing the basement, home additions or plumbing and electrical upgrades - it makes sense to call on a general contracting firm. These jobs require the knowledge and expertise of multiple professionals, something you simply can't expect from a handyman company.

Most qualified general contracting companies offer expertise at a recognized level. That means professional engineers (legally designated and licensed to design and approve structural, mechanical, civil and/or electrical drawings), skilled tradesmen (licensed electricians, plumbers and gas fitters) and experienced carpenters.

With these skills at their fingertips general contracting companies can handle every faucet of your project. They may need to subcontract certain unique elements, but industry connections and years of experience will ensure that only dependable professionals are taking care of your home improvement dreams.

Many professional contracting firms will price themselves out of smaller projects, mainly because their schedule is full of large-scale jobs that showcase in house talent. If you are planning a home renovation in stages your project may be of interest to these businesses, but for the most part small jobs are not their forte.

What Handyman Services Can Do For You

Smaller projects are where handyman services can truly shine. These companies tend to be on the small side themselves, although you may find franchised handyman services in the neighborhood.

Most often a handyman is defined by his/her broad range of skills, covering everything and anything from painting and plumbing to flooring, framing and finicky projects. You may come across a handyman company that offers licensed services (plumber, electrician, engineering), but in most cases the experience of the staff holds a greater value.

Handyman services can take on any sized job. These skilled professionals can complete all of the smaller projects that have haunted your “Honey Do” list for months (or years). It may be productive to actually hand over your list - ask them to price out each job individually and find out whether any discounts will be offered for multiple tasks. You may be pleasantly surprised to learn how little cash it takes to have those projects taken care of by a pro.

It's especially important to build a relationship with your local handyman. Seniors, single parent families and any others who have neither time nor the inclination to take on home improvement projects will benefit from a trusting and professional relationship with a handyman firm. It helps the contractor to plan their schedules better, knowing there is steady work ahead. And it allows homeowners to rest easier, assured that minor repairs and home maintenance will be well taken care of.

Who To Call When You're Not Sure

Although general contractors most often handle larger jobs and handyman services tackle the small projects, this is a generalization and will not always apply. What should a homeowner do when they are not sure where their project fits? Is it best to call in both types of companies and have them compete for your business?

The problem with having general contractors and handyman services bid against each other is unfair comparisons. In order to accurately compare the bids, you need to be able to assess the level of service. These two companies are not likely to offer the same types of services, nor will they have the same payment plans and warranties. All of these things bear weight when comparing bids for home renovations.

Your best bet is always word of mouth. Talk to your friends, family members and neighbors. Find out who has had a similar type of work done and ask about their experience. Did they hire a general contractor or opt for handyman services? How did the project progress and what would they have changed about their experience? Learning from the mistakes and successes of others is an easy way to navigate this process.

Do some research of your own as well. Browse through the websites of both handyman companies and general contractors. Look for any information that pertains to your specific project - especially pictures, testimonials and pricing details. This should give you direction on which companies handle the type of work you need done and which do not. Dig deeper into each potential contractor before contacting them directly.

It is important for homeowners to understand what differentiates general contractors from handyman services. Although both of these companies are professional contractors with vast experience in home renovations, your project may be best suited for one over the other. Follow the ideal path for your home improvement by learning the specialties of each type of contractor, garnering recommendations from friends and family and doing your own research. This will ensure your project is handled by the company with the best matched skills, talent and expertise.

Posted by: TrustedPros
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