What is a Contractor?


A lot of homeowners don’t really understand the true nature of the titles and roles of the people who remodel their homes. Knowing how these titles and roles function can save you lot of time, frustration and money.

What is a Contractor? There seems to be a tendency to call any person you pay to work on your home a contractor. In a sense, they may be, but a contractor negotiates contracts to make a living. A remodeling contractor negotiates a contract with you to do a project, like remodel your bathroom. They then negotiate contracts with the tradesmen, the vendors, the city, insurance company and whomever else they need to engage to complete your project. These agreements are called sub-contracts because they are minor contracts to complete the major one, yours! The people involved, primarily the tradesmen, are often called sub-contractors.

What contractors do is utilize their business skills and networking contacts to get your project completed, and hopefully they’ll make a modest profit at the same time. The contractor’s success is dependent on their skills and experience in negotiating contracts and conducting business. The easiest way to check a contractor’s skills and experience is by calling their references.

You can be your own contractor, but the benefit of hiring a contractor is that they save you the time of negotiating all those sub-contracts yourself. Since the contractor is in the business, they will be able to provide better, more affordable tradesman and supplies than you’d ever be able to do yourself. They will also help you budget and contain costs and get the job completed much faster than you’d be able to. They are providing cost savings, project quality, and time savings.

A lot of remodeling nightmares happen because homeowners hire a tradesman who is not a seasoned contractor to manage their project. A guy might be a great plumber, cabinet builder or tile layer, but that doesn’t make him a great contract negotiator or businessman. If he hasn’t had the experience of taking on a multi-process job, things can go bad in a hurry.

The lesson here is that when you have a project that requires several different trades, hire a contractor who is experienced in managing the processes—not a tradesman who wants a job and is willing to help with the other stuff to get it. What looks like a good deal will most always turn sour.


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