Handyman vs Contractor: How Are They Different?

A handyman and a contractor may appear to have similar job roles, but they are actually very different. Here is everything you should know about the difference between a handyman and a contractor.

A handyman and a contractor may appear to have similar jobs, on the surface, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Like the name suggests, a handyman is a person who has enough skills to be handy around the house. They can perform various minor repairs, and are good at ensuring that the house is up and running. They can clean the porch, pressure clean the driveway, fix leaky faucets, and more.

A contractor, on the other hand, is someone who handles larger tasks, such as home renovations, kitchen remodelling and other specialized work. A contractor is also a licensed individual, unlike a handyman, who doesn’t need a license.

Who is a Handyman?

A handyman is someone who can be hired for small, inexpensive repairs. They can work around the houses fixing and repairing things such as repairing the fence, or an appliance that has broken down. It’s important to note, however, that a handyman is not someone who has a license of any kind.

They may or may not have training for the work that they are doing. Typically, the kind of work a handyman does, doesn’t require training either. They will usually have their own set of tools, and can be called to do multiple tasks around the house.

Some of the kinds of task you can call a handyman to do, include:

  • Dealing with and removing mold from the walls
  • Repairing a fence, or coloring a fence
  • Hanging pictures or curtains
  • Doing minor HVAC repairs
  • Fixing a clogged sink

In this way, a handyman can handle many of the small problems that a household may encounter from time to time. Since handymen are typically cheaper to hire than a contractor, that makes them the ideal choice for small, simple repairs.

Who Is a Contractor?

A contractor may be of several kinds, but they always have a license. This implies that the contractor had to previously complete training and coursework in their area of specialization. It also shows that they had to pass a qualifying examination for the same.

Contractors are generally hired for larger projects, which may require a team of people to complete. A contractor is someone who is slightly different from a general contractor. A general contractor is the same as the general manager of a project. They need to oversee the project, ensure that all contractors are performing their role, and deliver the project in a timely manner.

While all contractors are licensed individuals, they may not all be general contractors. People who have large home renovations to complete, or have to assign remodeling work, typically turn to contractors. A contractor can also be seen as a speciality tradesperson. They have skills pertinent to their trade, and have, through training and education, become licensed professionals in the area.

The Difference Between a Handyman and a Contractor

The scope of work that a handyman is usually hired to deal with is much smaller than what a contractor would be called for. For this reason, it is generally cheaper to hire a handyman when compared to a contractor.

There are several differences between a handyman and a contractor. Knowing what these are can help you decide which career would suit you better, or who would be better to hire.

1. License and Qualifications

A handyman doesn’t have any licenses and qualifications. They have usually trained either on the job, or from other resources, but they don’t have any official training. A contractor, on the other hand, needs to complete rigorous courses on their field of specialization. They will not only need to do course work, but fieldwork as well. Many contractors also choose to follow the apprenticeship route, where they work as an apprentice for several years.

To get their license, a contractor will need to pass a qualifying examination. After successfully passing this examination, they are rewarded with their license.

2. General Knowledge vs Specialized Knowledge

A handyman usually has generalized knowledge which helps them to do work around the house. Many handymen also choose to specialize in a certain area, such as painting walls. However, the knowledge of a contractor on the other hand, is more specialized, and they are trained to be adept in their fields.

By the time a contractor gets their license, they have enough knowledge and skills, to handle nearly any task associated with their field. While general contractors also work as project managers, and may even have to work on creating designs, contractors in general should be able to bring those designs to life. For this reason, contractors tend to have very specialized knowledge.

3.The Costs Associated With Hiring Handymen and Contractors

It’s gnerally much cheaper to hire a handyman, than a contractor. Handymen can charge on an hourly basis, as well, making their services much more affordable to many people. A contractor, on the other hand, charges more, and can be expensive to hire.

For this reason, it is common for people to hire a handyman to deal with most minor repair work around the home. But should any major repair work be required, such as home remodelling or renovation, then it’s more common to hire a contractor. A contractor, depending on the size and scope of the work, can bring a team along with them.

Scope Of The Work

A handyman and a contractor handle different kinds of jobs. Handyman do jobs that are smaller in scale, and are generally easier to do. These can be done by one person, and typically doesn’t take a lot of time to complete either. On the other hand, contractors are brought in, when their specialized skills and knowledge are required. A handyman may not, and should not be asked to do the job of a contractor, as they may not have the necessary know-how.

Contractors, being more expensive to hire, are brought in for larger projects. Certain kinds of projects, such as those needing a building permit, should be done by a contractor. This is as getting a building permit is hard, and a handyman will not be able to procure it from the local government. Only specially licensed people are allowed to work on projects that require a building permit, so checking what the local regulations are, is essential.


A handyman and a contractor do different jobs, and have different responsibilities. Even though a handyman is not a licensed individual, they can still be called to do minor repairs that are simple, and require general knowledge. It’s generally cheaper to hire a handyman as well. Contractor, on the other hand, have specialized knowledge and are brought in when the scope of the work is large.

Handymen are also exposed to certain career risks. A disgruntled client could sue, which could lead to an expensive lawsuit. For situations likes this, insurance for handyman, such as handymen general liability insurance, can be essential.

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