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What’s The Difference Between a Handyman and a General Contractor?

You’ll hear different names thrown around: contractor, remodeler, handyman, odd-jobber, builder, l be referring to the same thing or the same person, but there are stark differences. For the purposes of this article, we’re going to stick to the two most common names - handyman and contractor. And we’ll review what the difference is between the two and why that should matter to you.


A handyman is a generalist, but a contractor can perform specific tasks. You want a licensed plumber to perform major plumbing work in your house. You can have a handyman fix a leaking faucet. The same goes for electrical work. A handyman can install a new light fixture, but you need to hire an electrician to rewire your circuit breaker. You don’t need a licensed specialist to fix a broken dishwasher or hang pictures in the living room. These are perfect tasks for a handyman.

Insurance & Licensure/Registration

A handyman is usually a skilled, experienced professional who can perform a wide range of tasks and repairs. While it’s a very good idea for a handyman to have insurance, not all states or local authorities require handymen to have a license or to carry an insurance policy. Their rates vary widely based on experience and specialities and, in some states, handymen may not be hired to complete certain work. Deft Craftsman is a registered Home Improvement Contractor in the State of NJ and carries a comprehensive general liability policy and workman compensation policy to protect you.


You’ll find that the handyman rate will normally be cheaper than contractor rates. One reason is because the overhead for a contractor (licensure, insurance, equipment, tools, etc) can be much higher than a handyman’s. Another reason is because “where there is mystery, there is margin”. Let’s face it. How many people know how to rewire a house or install an on-demand water boiler or diagnose a failing AC compressor? You pay a premium for premium knowledge and experience.

Rates for a professional handyman can range from $65-$100 an hour. Rates for a licensed electrician, plumber, or HVAC mechanic can range anywhere from $90-$200. So while an electrician can change a light switch, and a plumber can replace a faucet, and an HVAC mechanic can change your air filter, you’re going to pay a premium rate for something a handyman can do just as easily and more affordably.

Licensed contractors are more interested in the big job because they’re more profitable and a better use of their time. Go with a contractor when the scope of the job is big, such as putting an addition on your house or completely renovating a room that requires complicated plumbing and/or electrical work.

Call us for an estimate or to schedule service

Licensed, insured and highly-experienced home improvements professionals, whether handymen or contractors, can make your home improvement project an easy feat. Deft Craftsman is here to help, whether you want to clear up that odd-job list, remodel rooms or renovate your kitchen.


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