Why a Handyman is not a Contractor

There are big differences, and valid reasons for it

There are some professionals that are excellent at fixing things around the house. They are able to install a few items, and perhaps even complete small renovations.

But that doesn’t make them capable of properly handling a bigger job or a full-scale renovation. So, when you’re deciding on who to hire to get something done around your house, it’s important to know that the main difference between a contractor and a handyman is the scope of work.

Below, Focus Construction specifies the differences so that you can make the right decision the next time that you need something done around your house. 

Handyman (or woman)

A handyman is a person that you hire to fix odds-and-ends around the house. They’re one person who shows up to do all of the work that needs to be done. Maybe a new door needs to be hung or you have a few holes in your wall that need patching. Or perhaps you need one room painted and a new ceiling fan installed. 

Handymen can be extremely useful and skilled, but the majority of the time they are a jack-of- all trades, and a master of none. This means that they know how to do everything fairly well, but aren’t a professional of any one skill. They also likely don’t hold any licenses.

A handyman is someone you would likely hire to do work that will last just a few days at most, not a project that can turn into a large undertaking stretching a few weeks or longer.


A contractor is usually someone who “contracts” skilled trades to work on a project. They are typically a skilled worker who used to be a tradesperson but has decided to run job sites using the skills that they acquired during their years in the workforce. 

Contractors are trained, licensed, and have detailed knowledge of how large-scale projects are run efficiently and successfully. 

A contractor has realized that they can’t install ducts as well as a professional HVAC team, nor can they install electrical systems as well as a licenced electrician. They are someone who knows how to do everything, but hires licensed experts from each field to do the work with proficiency. Contractors monitor each component of the work to ensure that it is being done in compliance with code, with efficiency, and with cost-effectiveness top of mind.  

Contractors are most useful to you because of their contacts, their growing access to every trade, and knowing the best tradespeople to work with in your area. Through their years of experience in the construction industry and their knowledge of new techniques, they understand how a house or renovation is supposed to be done and in what order. As a result, they’ll usually show up at your home with several professionals or a crew of skilled tradespeople.

Hiring a good contractor is especially important for construction project management, new additions, and complete house renovations. Any job that is going to take several weeks to finish is best managed by a contractor.

Contractors are invaluable to you and the successful completion of your renovation.

How do you choose?

By looking at the scope of your project, you can determine whether to hire a handyman or a contractor. 

For example, hire a handyman if the job is something you can do yourself, but don’t have the time. This could be:

  • Caulking
  • Replacing a door
  • Minor painting jobs
  • Quick fixes around your property
  • Upgrading or changing light fixtures 
  • Simple cabinetry

Since a contractor’s insurance likely won’t cover the smaller jobs above, the handyman is the way to go. 

Call a contractor for anything that involves:

  • Electrical
  • Plumbing
  • Gas
  • Flooring
  • Demolition

In summary, for quick jobs, hire a handyman. For large and complicated projects, reach out to find a good contractor. Making the right decision will save you time, stress, and money!

Looking for an opinion or a quote on your next renovation, design and build, or other home improvement? Contact us at Focus Construction for your free consultation!