Who to Hire: A General or Specialized Contractor?

Have a bathroom to remodel? Or are planning on extending your home with a garage addition? Who should you hire? Will a general contractor be best suited or a specialized contractor? We’ve defined the difference between the two so you can make an informed decision before hiring anyone!

What is a General Contractor?

A general contractor is the person that is typically involved in the planning, organization and coordination of a renovation project project. The general contractor can do the work themselves, but can also hire subcontractors to get the work done. Subcontractors tend to be specialized in the task at hand. A general contractor is sure to have his required licenses (e.g. his Metro License in the city of Toronto or his RBQ license for the province of Quebec). He has a variety of skills as well, making him a suitable contractor for many kinds of renovation projects. 

general contractor planning a renovation

What is a Specialized Contractor? 

A specialized contractor has expertise in a specific field and can only intervene in the areas allowed by his licenses and permits. They can still call on contractors with other specializations, but he’s likely to take a cut from the cost of their work. However, doing so is limited. A specialized contractor cannot subcontract another specialized contractor if his licenses don’t permit it. That’s one of the main elements that differentiates him from a general contractor. A general contractor can hire subcontractors without having to ‘worry’ about licence details as their license permits them to.

Another rather important difference between both contractors is the amount of their bonds. A specialized contractor’s bond is of $10,000, whereas a general contractor’s bond is of $20,000.

specialized contractor installing floor

Why Hire a General Contractor?

It all depends on the scope of your project! Generally speaking, hiring a general contractor can greatly ease your life during renovations, including significantly reducing stress levels. For instance, a kitchen renovation may seem like a rather simple project, but note that you’ll need at least an electrician, a plumber, a kitchen designer and a painter. If you were to take care of the project’s coordination, you’d therefore need to find competent contractors yourself, manage unexpected events, coordinate appointments and make sure renovations are well done. Essentially, you’d act like a general contractor. Obviously, playing this role will cause quite a lot of stress, especially if you have your other day-to-day tasks (i.e. kids to take care of a job, etc.). Are you ready to take on this extra weight? Hiring a general contractor means passing on these responsibilities to someone capable of finding competent contractors and ensuring your project truly runs smoothly. 

bright white kitchen newly renovated

Are General Contractors More Expensive? 

A general contractor is the middle-man between you and specialized contractors, and, like any middle-man, takes a cut for their work. On average, hiring a general contractor will cost you 15% more than if you went around hiring your own specialized contractors. Depending on the scope of the project, 15% may seem like a lot. However, hiring a general contractor is sure to relieve you of a lot of stress and ensure your project is properly managed from beginning to end. For projects requiring several specialized contractors, like in the case of a new building construction, a turnkey renovation of a kitchen or basement, etc., you’re often better off hiring a general contractor. In other cases, where only one kind of expertise is needed – like roofing – you can go ahead and hire a specialized contractor. 


Whether you are looking for a specialized contractor or a general contractor for your renovation project, we can refer the right experts your way! Call us or fill out our form and a Renovation Advisor will get in touch to take care of your project!