Remodeling 101: Different Types of Contractors

About the Author: David Perrotti

Dave has over 20 years of experience in the construction industry, is a Bestselling Home Improvement Author on Amazon, and constantly seeks to reinvent the remodeling industry. As a veteran of the Army and Air Force, Dave operates his business, Fine Home Contracting, on the core army values of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage.

Finding a contractor that suits your needs and your home’s needs is one of the trickiest parts of planning a remodel. Whether you’re looking at adding square footage with a home addition, or just breathing some modernity into your home with a kitchen or bathroom remodel, choosing the wrong contractor is just about the worst mistake you can make.

Home remodeling projects range from small handyman jobs like painting a room or installing new flooring, to major renovations like kitchen and bathroom remodels and new room additions. With so many varied types of projects, it makes sense that any one contractor won’t always be the best fit for your job. With so many companies to choose from, it can be confusing for homeowners to decide what type of contractor is the best fit for their project vision and budget. Below we’ll go over the four main types of contractors and pros and cons of each. Knowing what to look for in a contractor gives you a step up in negotiation your remodel, and ensures that the company you choose is adequately sized to plan your project, as well as prepared to handle any complications that arise during your remodel.

Handymen

Handymen are best for smaller home improvement jobs like painting, electrical work, plumbing repairs, flooring, and everyday home maintenance. They charge by the hour and often have lower minimum costs than contractors.

Pros of Handymen

  • Cheaper rates for minor jobs
  • Flexible scheduling
  • Simpler hiring process

Cons of Handymen

  • Less oversight on bigger projects
  • Quality heavily depends on the individual
  • Limited expertise and credentials

General Contractors

General contractors oversee construction projects from start to finish. They manage all aspects, including hiring and overseeing subcontractors, getting permits, scheduling, sourcing materials, and adhering to your budget.

Pros of General Contractors

  • Experience with all construction tasks
  • Single point of contact
  • Manage entire project

Cons of General Contractors

  • May not have in-house expertise for design
  • Rely on subcontractors for much of the work
  • Less flexibility in choosing subs

Construction Management Companies

General contractors oversee construction projects from start to finish. They manage all aspects, including hiring and overseeing subcontractors, getting permits, scheduling, sourcing materials, and adhering to your budget.

Pros of Construction Management

  • Allow homeowners control over project
  • Expertise in scheduling and budgeting
  • Help source contractors and materials

Cons of Construction Management

  • Homeowners take on more risk
  • No in-house labor for construction

Design + Build Contractors

Design-build firms offer integrated architectural design and construction services under one contract, and oftentimes have their own in-house labor as well. This collaborative approach can provide benefits over the traditional design-bid-build model, and is often a cheaper option than having these services rendered by several different companies. Your designer, architect, and builders all being under the same company smooths communication issues, makes scheduling easier, and gives you access to more services for your home without juggling multiple contractors and acting as your own Project Manager, as is common with Construction Management Companies.

Pros of Design + Build

  • Single entity accountability
  • Early cost feedback from builder
  • Often faster timeline

Cons of Design + Build

  • Less design flexibility once contracted
  • Potentially less independent oversight

Comparing the Options

When considering a major remodel, construction management firms and design-build contractors are better suited than general contractors or handymen. Here’s a quick comparison of key factors:

  • Versatility – CM companies are the most versatile option since they help source all services needed without being tied to in-house trades.

  • Control – Homeowners have the most control over decision making with a CM firm overseeing, rather than a general contractor or design-builder fully running the show.

  • Cost – Design-build contracts can provide the best cost predictability upfront. CM provides transparency too by opening up bidding to multiple subs.

  • Quality – For top quality, a design-build firm with proven portfolio or vetted CM team overseeing experienced subs is ideal.

Final Thoughts

The type of contractor best for your remodeling project depends on the scope of work, your budget, and how involved you want to be in the process. Construction management firms optimize homeowner flexibility and control for major renovations. For full-service projects under one contract, design-build contractors are great. General contractors shine for mid-size jobs. Handymen are the most affordable for minor projects.

FAQ

Should I just act as my own general contractor?2023-09-22T13:59:51+00:00

Being your own GC can work for smaller jobs, but for major renovations it’s wise to hire a professional to handle the complex details. The money spent is often saved through their expertise. If you want more control than a GC allows, look for a construction management company.

How do I choose between remodeling contractors?2023-09-22T13:59:22+00:00

Interview several contractors and ask for client references and examples of past work. Make sure they have the experience, manpower, and vision to execute your specific project. Personality fit is also important.

What kind of work should I hire a handyman for?2023-09-22T13:57:09+00:00

Handymen are best for minor electrical, plumbing, carpentry, painting, and other basic home projects. Bigger remodeling jobs like room additions are better left to contractors even if a handyman says they can do it.

Do I need a design-build contractor for a kitchen remodel?2023-09-22T13:56:57+00:00

You can definitely hire a design-build firm for a kitchen overhaul, but a general contractor or construction manager working with an architectural designer can also execute this well. Design-build makes the most sense for whole home renovations, larger kitchen renovations, and those looking to minimize costs.

How much oversight is needed with a general contractor?2023-09-22T13:54:55+00:00

You can be relatively hands-off with an experienced general contractor. But it’s still wise to check in on progress regularly and be involved in big decisions to ensure quality and prevent miscommunications.

What is the difference between a general contractor and a construction manager?2023-09-22T13:54:28+00:00

General contractors take on the actual construction work for your project either themselves or using subcontractors they oversee. Construction managers act in an advisory role to help plan, coordinate, and manage the project rather than doing the physical building work.

About the Author: David Perrotti

Dave has over 20 years of experience in the construction industry, is a Bestselling Home Improvement Author on Amazon, and constantly seeks to reinvent the remodeling industry. As a veteran of the Army and Air Force, Dave operates his business, Fine Home Contracting, on the core army values of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage.

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