What’s The Difference Between A Handyman in Surrey and A General Contractor?

Are you curious about the difference between a handyman and a general contractor? The market always changes, and how you market yourself (if you identify with one of these two labels) makes a big difference when thinking about how much business you will bring in. Read on to find out more about how these two labels can change your customers’ perception of what you do, and find out more about how to best present yourself to your clients to make sure you get the most out of your business.

You’ll want to know exactly what you can provide for people, and you’ll want to make sure you have the right approach to presenting your services to your target audience, who will more than likely become your customers or clients (but only if you get this right).

Licensing Is the Main Difference

If you’re looking to pick up small jobs, you can always market yourself as a handyman. The handyman can do things that general contractors wouldn’t want to. General contractor status requires a license in most states, and it can require an exam and lots of documentation (New York requires this). In California, if a job is over $500, you will need to be licensed, and if you’re working with big systems (think electricity), you’ll need a license for that, too.

It can be much easier to find handyman jobs, since you may only need handyman insurance to get started with your business. While the jobs don’t pay as much, there’s less investment up front, and the risk factor is a bit smaller for handymen since the jobs generally don’t require as much.


Handymen will usually end up performing work that only requires one person, while general contractors generally work with a team of people, including specialists in different areas. If you’re a handyman, you may end up working on small household repairs, and you can generally work on your own to complete this type of work.

Pros and Cons

A handyman can generally get started working right away. This is good in many ways, for handymen are much needed for smaller household repairs, as aforementioned. But if you’re a general contractor, you may end up spending longer on a job, thus ensuring that you have more consistent work and work patterns. If you’re a general contractor, though, you probably have to go through extensive exams and other forms of “legitimation,” so this can be troubling and time-consuming. But if you go the handyman route, you may not be guaranteed to make as much money, since smaller jobs don’t pay as well overall.

handyman contractor jumping in the air in front of a home


If you ask yourself a few questions, you can figure out your status: Do you want to be a general contractor or a handyman? The above insights should help you decide if you want to work on smaller jobs or larger ones, and now you know the main reasons why people go with one or the other label in marketing themselves to clients.

Here are the questions:

  1. Do you want to invest a lot of money or time at the beginning of your business?
  2. Would you prefer to work alone or in a group of specialists? Handymen can work alone easily, but general contractors often need to bring in specialists to help them with the work they undertake.
  3. How long do you want your projects to last? If you’re a handyman, you can work on short (even day-long) projects, but general contractors often spend months on projects. What’s your preference?

If you ask yourself these questions and answer honestly, you can find out what your ideal business model would be. As you can see, both handymen and general contractors have their pros and cons, but both can offer something valuable to the world, and if you give it a try with either one, you’re sure to find the job satisfaction you seek. Good luck.

This post was written by one of the handymen who also work at my junk removal company in Surrey, BC.

Learn more about them here:

The Surrey Handyman
14577 105a Ave, Surrey, BC V3R 1S2
(604) 670-7177