The Difference Between Contractors, Sub-Contractors & Handyman Services

General Contractors in Calgary

If you’ve been thinking about a home renovation, the best place to start is by hiring a general contractor. General contractors in Calgary might have licensed trades employed within their company, but in many cases they will bring in sub-contractors to do specific jobs like plumbing or electrical work.

General contractors can assist you with a wide range of home improvement projects. From basement renovations, bathroom and kitchen renovations in Calgary, to home additions and even building new homes. For smaller home improvement projects and repairs, you might consider hiring a handy man service or a specific contractor like a drywall contractor or a roofing contractor.

In this article, we will review the difference between general contractors, sub-contractors, handymen and their role in your home renovation projects.

What is a contractor?

Generally speaking, the professional renovation companies or trades that can help with home improvement or renovations are typically called contractors. This is because when you hire these individuals or companies to do work on your home, you will hire their services under a contract between you and them and/or their company.

In the home improvement industry, there is a vast range of contractors that each provide a very specific service for your home. There are roofing contractors, electrical contractors, plumbing contractors, painting contractors, concrete contractors, landscape contractors…and the list goes on. Whether you need Calgary bathroom renovations, to build a new deck or fence or repair a leak in your plumbing, there is a contractor you can hire to take care of that project or repair for you.

Typically, the person or company that you sign the contract with is responsible for delivering the services that are written into that contract. For example, if you sign a contract with a drywall contractor – that drywall contractor will be responsible for all the drywall materials, installation and clean-up as stated in the contract. There will be no managing contractor involved in that project. All communication will be between you and the drywall contractor you’ve hired.

However, in certain instances that same drywall contractor might be working for a managing contractor, most commonly referred to as a general contractor, in which case that drywall contractor will be a sub-contractor. If you’ve hired a general contractor, you will likely have sub-contractors working in your home.

What is a general contractor?

Think of a general contractor as a project manager for your home renovation or remodeling project. When you hire a general contractor, they will manage the entire project for you from start to finish. Most general contractors will hire or sub-contract interior designers to help create the perfect design and plan for your space. Then they will take care of hiring, scheduling and managing every trade that will have to work on your project. These hired trades are called sub-contractors and they will take care of aspects like plumbing, electrical, drywall, painting and other specialties.

You will not be entering into individual contracts with these sub-contractors and it will be the responsibility of general contractors in Calgary to hire and pay them to work on your home. This cost will be included in your original quote and contract that you have signed with the general contractor. The general contractor will also deal with any issues between sub-contractors and will make sure they’re notified if something changes with the project. Without a general contractor, you would have to do all of this yourself.

Some general contractors will be actively working on your home renovation themselves. You might see them demolishing your old cabinetry or framing a new wall along side the other workers. It is common to have a general contractor who comes from a specific trade in the construction industry. They might also have worked as an electrical contractor or cabinet maker, for example. Larger renovation companies might employ enough staff and sub-contractors to allow the general contractor to work only has a project manager. Your general contractor will explain the entire process of your home renovation to you, including who will be doing the work and at what stage.

What are the benefits of hiring a general contractor?

General Contractors in Calgary

Whether you are embarking on a major home addition, kitchen or bathroom remodel or basement renovations in Calgary, there are many advantages to hiring a general contractor.

Get help with design.

You know you want an upgrade, but have no idea where to start! That’s where the help of a professional interior designer can really help. When you hire a general contracter, you will gain access to their design services. You will meet with a designer to share your ideas and needs for function and style, and they will help fill in the blanks to create the best space for your needs, family and lifestyle.

Save yourself the stress of hiring and scheduling trades.

Not having to research, check references, hire, schedule and then manage half-a-dozen contractors for your home renovation will be a major benefit. A general contractor will do all of this for you. Since they work with these different companies often, they already know the kind of quality work that is expected. Plus, they will know exactly when each trade will have to come into your home to work on that aspect of the project and make sure your home renovation is running smoothly and efficiently.

They are knowledgeable and experienced.

When you embark on a major home remodeling project yourself, you’re relying on your knowledge and experience from the design stage through construction and completion. You might be an avid DIYer, but a seasoned general contractor has been dealing with home construction and renovations for a living for many, many years. If a problem arises, they can deal with it effectively and efficiently. They will also know what will work and what won’t, so you can lay out a smart plan for your home improvement project that will encounter less road blocks. Not only will this reduce stress, it will help you avoid some very expensive mistakes.

General contractors will obtain all permits.

Not only do general contractors know building code and regulations, they will also know what specific permits you must obtain for your project. They will ensure that all permits are obtain and any inspections required are done so that your home renovation is completed safely and to code.

They will help you stay on budget.

When you take care of a home renovation by yourself, you must create your own budget. Without knowledge and experience, there’s a likely chance that you’ll overspend. Purchasing the wrong materials or tools, or accidentally damaging materials, will account for several trips back to the building supply store and more money spent. Unforeseen issues can be costly, but an experienced general contractor will include a buffer in your budget to give you more wiggle room. You’ll know how much things will cost and won’t have to deal with a bigger bill than expected at the end of the project.

For more information on how to hire a general contractor, ready “How to Deal with Contractors”.

Types of renovations a general contractor can help you with.

Most general contractors offer a huge range of renovation services. You can even hire a general contractor to help you with the entire planning and building process for a brand-new home. Other renovations that a general contractor can help you manage include:

Basement Renovations

488a78aebc22aa13091417100eef1e56A basement renovation can nearly double your useable living space and help you increase the value of your home. Your new basement can include additional bedrooms for a growing family, a home office, fitness room, play room, rec room, home theatre or a man-cave retreat. When it comes time to sell your house, buyers will be attracted to an updated, finished basement and you’ll gain a competitive edge on the market.

One big issue with basement renovations, especially if you are upgrading an older retro basement that was originally finished decades ago, is that it might come with some unexpected surprises. Your old basement could have been finished by an inexperienced DIYer or renovator and since it was done so long ago, you can never be sure how it was done.

Things that might turn up behind those walls include faulty wiring and electrical work, issues with plumbing, mould, mildew or water damage from moisture getting in and old building materials that can be hazardous to your health like asbestos. This is where hiring a knowledgeable and experienced general contractor can really pay off. Not only will they be able to spot shoddy or potentially hazardous work, they will have the know-how to quickly and cost-effectively deal with the situation and ensure your new basement renovation is safe, to code and done properly.

Bathroom Renovations

Calgary Bathroom RenovationsNot only will a bathroom upgrade improve your bathrooms aesthetics, it will also increase your enjoyment of the room by creating a more functional and relaxing space. Convert your bathtub into a beautiful shower, with modern tile, luxurious fixtures and glass door or change the entire layout of the room to make more space.

A well-planned bathroom renovation can also help you increase your home’s energy efficiency. Purchasing energy efficient fixtures like low-flow shower heads and toilets is both affordable and a good investment over the long run. They can help you save on your water utility bill month after month. When low-flow products first came on the market they were more expensive than regular fixtures, but that is no longer the case. A trip to a kitchen and bath supply store will give you lots of inspiration that can help you save energy and create the beautiful and functional bathroom you’ve always wanted.

Kitchen Renovations

Kitchen Renovations in CalgaryKitchen renovations are by far the most popular home renovation for home owners and home buyers. They also have one of the highest return on investment compared to other home renovation projects. In fact, Remodelling Magazine’s Cost vs. Value report for 2017 showed that even a minor kitchen renovation will recoup 80.2 per cent of it’s cost.

In the example given, a minor kitchen renovation would include refacing existing cabinetry and updating hardware, replacing the countertop with new laminate countertops, installing energy efficient appliances, installing mid-range sinks and faucets and replacing the old floors with resilient flooring. This renovation is estimated to cost approximately $20,800 but will increase your home’s value by $17 ,000. Aside from what you can get with an asking price, any experienced realtor will tell you that an updated kitchen will make your home more marketable and make for a faster sale. Plus, you’ll get to enjoy it in the meantime.

Because kitchen renovations have many different components to them, it’s a good idea to hire an experienced general contractor. They will help you choose things like countertops, backsplash, cabinetry and flooring, ensuring everything has good flow regarding design and that the finished renovation will improve both functionality and your personal enjoyment of the room. Having a knowledgeable manager for a project of this scale will help save you time and stress. Learn 5 benefits of kitchen renovations.

What about handy man services?

Hands of Handyman with a tool belt.

For smaller renovations, like replacing your floors or upgrading a small bathroom, you might consider hiring a handyman service over a big renovation company or general contractor. A handyman, or woman, is a person or company that can assist you with a wide range of home repairs, home maintenance and home improvements. They take care of that list of ‘odd jobs’ you might have around the house or minor projects that need to get done. These types of jobs could include repairing damaged drywall, installing windows and doors, building a fence, installing new appliances, painting and everything in between.

There are benefits to hiring handyman services for these types of jobs. Most of us mean to get to our home maintenance to-do list, or finally tackle that little home improvement project, but life happens and time goes by without it getting done. Even when we do have the time, we might not have the know-how! A handyman will come take care of one or more of those projects, or sometimes your entire list, and get it done with skill and efficiency.

Hiring handyman services in Calgary can be more efficient than hiring contractors for home repairs and improvements. Let’s you need a minor roof repair, want to install a few light fixtures and want to replace the flooring in the bathroom. Instead of hiring a roofing contractor, electrician and flooring installer to do each of those jobs separately, who will all come with their own charges and schedule, you can hire one handyman to come do all those things for you. Depending on the size, they can check projects off the list in just a day or two. Hiring a handyman can be a simpler and more affordable option to dealing with several contractors.

Though major renovations like basement, bathroom and kitchen renovations are known to increase resale value, you don’t have to embark on a major remodeling job to get a return on investment with home improvements. A handyman can easily complete projects that will recoup cost and increase property value, without ripping out your kitchen cabinetry! For example, you can expect to get a 91 per cent return on replacing your front entry door. Not only does that improve curb appeal, further boosting your home’s resale value, it will also improve your home’s energy efficiency and help you save money on your monthly energy bills. Other not-so-major home improvements that don’t break the bank but give back a great ROI are an interior paint job and building a deck addition. Learn more about these 3 home renovations with good return on investment.

What about the cost? In most cases, hiring handyman services in Calgary is less expensive than hiring a contractor. They have a much lower overhead than a large renovation company because they supply their own tools and have less, or zero, other workers to pay. Some handyman companies will even let you purchase and supply your own materials so you know that the products going into the project are not marked up. Handyman services are a good option for homeowners on a budget.

Hiring Trusted Contractors on is a free online directory of accredited contractors and home improvement companies. Every company on our directory has passed a stringent screen process that includes financial and legal background checks, checking for proper business licencing, insurance and WCB coverage. Companies who are members of the BBB receive a higher rating, costumer complaints are reviewed and each business is continually monitored to ensure they are keeping up with the criteria.

Whether you want to hire a general contractor for a major renovation, a contractor to get one job done or a handyman to take care of your home repairs and projects list, you can find renovation companies you can trust on! Find inspiration with these 25 Best Home Renovation Ideas.



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Date Posted: 17 Sep, 2017
Written By: Renovationfind

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