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The 3 Types of Contractors

Learn more about the different types of contractors you can hire and how to determine the best fit for your project.

By: Jamie Eden | Oct 2019

Contractor going over plans Contractor going over plans photo by csp_lisafx

The different types of contractors can be divided into three main categories. Contractors can vary from a jack-of-all-trades handyman to highly specialized artisans, often determined by the amount and quality of work required on projects.

General Contractor

The term “general contractor” can be used in two ways. A general contractor is someone who can tackle different aspects of a building project. Many general contractors can be good at basic electrical, plumbing, carpentry, and other areas that are involved in a home rehab and renovation. This type of general contractor can be considered a handyman, but those who have the right experience and are licensed go beyond that label.

General contractors can also manage aspects of the renovation that they aren’t actually doing themselves. They will often hire subcontractors to complete work they can’t do or are too busy to complete. Not only does the general contractor hire the subcontractors, but they also manage the budget, schedule, and payment process.

For big projects, a general contractor may spend all their time managing everything and not doing any of the work themselves. The general contractor will also be responsible for making sure any subcontractors are insured and licensed in order to not only protect themselves, but you as well.

Having a general contractor can make the job easier since you only have to hire one person and don’t have to manage aspects of the project yourself. The downside is that you will be charged for all the extra work done by your general contractor.

Specialty Contractor

If you don’t want someone else to manage the project for you, then you can hire contractors who have their own specialties to do the actual work. The most common and reliable method is to hire specialty contractors who are insured and licensed and can manage their own teams.

These specialty contractors can be plumbers, electricians, drywallers, and painters, depending on the needs of your project. While these contractors may not be the cheapest, they have the necessary experience to get the job done without you having to watch every move.

The major downside is that you will be responsible for managing schedules to ensure the progress is efficient. To work with these contractors, you also need to do some planning. An example is hiring a painter to come out before the cabinet installer, so you don’t have to worry about protecting new materials.

Freelance Contractors

These contractors can have general contractor experience, but not enough experience and expertise to handle individual parts of a project without management. These contractors may also be called “unskilled laborers” because they work hard, but they don’t have the expertise to solve any tough problems that could arise.

These workers are by far the cheapest labor costs, but they do require time, effort, and patience from you. The work can be solid, but you may not want a freelance contractor working on something that is highly technical.

You may choose to have a combination of the three different types of contractors for your projects. For example, you may want a general contractor for large projects that you aren’t able to manage yourself, then choose to use a combination of specialty contractors and freelance contractors for smaller projects.

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