If you’re looking for a contractor, you need to be clear what you want them to do, and then get one that does precisely that. Contractors come in different shapes and forms. Some are specialists in particular fields, while others are self-avowed jack-of-all-trade types. Others are keen on art as opposed to practicality or function.
After understanding your needs, interview a couple of contractors and then settle on the one with a profile that’s relevant to your situation. The fees charged by a contractor depends on what they do and what they bring on the table.
Below are six different types of general contractors you are likely to come across:
Type #1: General Contractors
A general contractor handles various aspects of construction. These are the types of contractors you can contract for general repairs and construction work. Most of these contractors can handle essential electrical work, sheet-rock, carpentry, basic HVAC and plumbing, and many other rehab and home renovation work.
These general contractors are licensed and extremely experienced. Besides, they are skilled and competent enough to oversee a team of workers at a construction site. A general contractor may subcontract work to other contractors who bring on board specific skill-sets. This may be because they are not adequately skilled in those areas or because they are busy doing something else. They may also sub-contract to fast-track a particular project.
Hiring a general contractor means they take over the project. They manage the project budget, payments, schedules, sub-contractors, among other responsibilities. They also ensure that sub-contractors are insured and licensed. This protects you from potential liability claims.
Type #2: Specialty Contractors
Perhaps you want to manage the project yourself and therefore do not need to hire a general contractor. This may be informed by a desire to experience the process yourself or to cut on general contractor costs, or for whatever reason.
However, even if you choose to manage the renovation project yourself, you will still need to hire sub-contractors. These are the guys who will come in to do the actual work. They include electricians, plumbers, masons, carpenters, roofers, etc.
The options at your disposal when hiring subcontractors include getting insured and licensed specialty contractors with the ability to manage themselves and their teams. While hiring a subcontractor, make sure they are insured, licensed, and positively rated by the Better Business Bureau. The beauty with specialty contractors is that you don’t have to babysit them. They are highly qualified and experienced in their trade. They know what they are doing.
These types of contractors, however, come at a cost, but considering the expertise they bring with them, they may be your best bet. Nonetheless, you still need to push for the best deal by getting estimates from a couple of them before settling for one with the best value proposition. The biggest downside to working with specialty contractors is that you will need to perform the duties of a general contractor. Managing schedules, payments, budgets, etc. is your responsibility.
Type #3: Freelance Contractors
If you are looking for the cheapest types of general contractors, go for freelance workers. However, you will spend most of your time managing these types of contractors. Freelance workers may be experienced in some construction work. Some of them could even have general contracting experience.
Still, they may not be adequately experienced to complete tasks without supervision. For instance, you can trust a specialty contractor to complete a job in your absence. You may not feel as comfortable leaving a freelance worker on-site as you head for lunch. Freelance workers are categorized as “unskilled labourers,” mainly because their expertise doesn’t involve solving serious problems.
Type #4: Mechanical Contractors
Among principal contractors at a construction site is a plumber and HVAC expert. You need someone who’s experienced in air-conditioning, heating and plumbing. These types of contractors fall under specialty contractors and, if they can perform all the three tasks combined, they are referred to as mechanical contractors.
These types of contractors can choose to specialize further in any of the three areas (heating, air conditioning or plumbing). Those who specialize in air conditioning and heating are referred to as HVAC contractors.
Type #5: Paper Hanging and Painting Contractors
These types of general contractors are primarily concerned with paper hanging and painting. However, they are not licensed to paint roofs, which OSHA considers a separate trade.
Type #6: Electrical Contractors
According to OSHA, electrical contractors are responsible for the electrical work at a construction site. They install fire alarms, telecommunication equipment, lighting, and work on any other task that qualifies as electrical work. Electrical contractors have a lot to do at a construction site.
Other types of contractors include masons and those who engage in plastering, stonework and setting tiles. Carpentry and flooring contractors are also found at construction sites. You will also find roofing sheet metal and siding contractors responsible for ductwork, roofing, fabrication and gutter installation.