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Contractor or Handyman? What's the Difference?

There are many different types of contractors out there, which one should you hire? In this post you will learn about the five categories of contractors and which one you should hire for your specific needs.

What are the Different Types of Contractors?

As discussed in our previous post, contractors are regulated professionals that require professional licensing as well as bonding and insurance to operate legally in Alaska; other states may require different licensing designations. When it comes to choosing a contractor for your individual needs, you will be faced with a few options: General Contractor with Residential Endorsement, General Contractor without Residential Endorsement, General Contractor: Handyman, Specialty Contractor, or Mechanical Contractor. The type and scope of work will determine which contractor you will need for your specific job. Let's dive into what each contractor can do for you.

General Contractor with Residential Endorsement

This type of contractor may perform or oversee new home construction, commercial work, and residential remodel work greater than 25% of the value of the structure being altered. In order to obtain a residential contractor endorsement the contractor must take a 16-hour cold climate course and pass the residential contractors endorsement exam.

General Contractor without Residential Endorsement

This type of contractor may perform or oversee commercial work or do residential remodel work less than 25% of the value of the structure being altered. If the contractor meets this criteria, they do not need to acquire a residential endorsement license.

General Contractor: Handyman

Handyman Contractors may perform commercial or residential remodel work of $10,000 or less per project.

Specialty Contractor

A Specialty Contractor may perform work that requires the use of not more than three trades; a list of the recognized trades can be found in municipal code 12 AAC 21.200-.570.

Mechanical Contractor

In order to receive a Mechanical Contractor license the company must have a Mechanical Administrator. Mechanical Contractors may perform any of the mechanical disciplines for which they have an administrator assigned (plumbing, heating, sheet metal, refrigeration); however, mechanical contractors may perform only mechanical work.

4 Questions to Guide Your Decision

Now that you know the different types of contractors available, how can you decide which one is right? Do you try them all like Goldie Locks tries porridge and beds? No! You examine the work that needs to be done and match it with the right contractor for the job.

Here are 4 quick questions to help you decide which contractor to call:

  1. Are you building a new home or office? If Yes, call a General Contractor with a Residential Endorsement.

  2. Does the remodel or renovation you have in mind equal a value of less than 25% of the existing structure? If Yes, call a General Contractor without a Residential Endorsement.

  3. Is the project going to come in at less than $10,000? If Yes, call a General Contractor: Handyman, they provide remodel and renovation work at a fraction of the cost when compared to a Contractor with or without a Residential Endorsement.

  4. Will the project require mechanical or specialty work i.e. septic tank plumbing or HVAC and heating, water and sewer, excavation? If Yes, it would be best for you to hire a Mechanical or Specialty Contractor for the job.

Let us know in the comments about some of the remodel and renovation questions you have! If we feature one of your questions you'll get a shout out!

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