After completing a few home improvement jobs on your own, it’s only natural to start thinking about how you may transition into a career as a contractor or receive the bill from a seasoned veteran. After all, if you want to be in charge of the improvements, there’s no need to pay someone else to do it when you can do it yourself. You may even convert it into a lucrative side business. Read on if you’ve ever pondered the requirements necessary to start a career as a contractor.

Who or What Exactly is a Contractor?

When referring to residential construction, the term “contractor” may refer to anybody from the trim painter to the general contractor, sometimes known as the top banana. The general contractor is the person who recruits and controls teams of subcontractors, who are responsible for the majority of the work. House flippers sometimes become general contractors to save costs throughout the process of renovating properties before placing them on the market.

A general contractor must don several different hard helmets. Here are the responsibilities:

  • Helps customers make sense of their thoughts and formulates actionable plans based on those thoughts
  • Creates a cost estimate and a schedule for the work to be done
  • obtains permissions for building construction
  • Purchases all of the components, including the tools, that are required to finish a project (which can be rented or bought)

Independent Contractor

Recruits and manages the independent contractors that will carry out the work for the project. Attends meetings with the building inspectors to discuss and resolve any issues.

When you initially start your business, it is a good idea to keep things on a modest scale. For instance, if you have a penchant for laying tile, it is OK for you to concentrate on kitchen backsplashes and bathrooms. These two areas see a lot of foot traffic. Alternatively, if you have experience with painting or flooring, you may consider specializing in those areas and expanding your skill set (and tool collection) from that foundation.

How to Get Started in the Contracting Business

No one credential will automatically qualify a person as a licensed contractor. Certain states mandate the licensing of contractors, while others do not. The government agencies that provide licenses and certificates to residents of states with licensing requirements are not standardized.

For instance, the Commonwealth of Virginia mandates that anybody who works in the construction industry must have a license or certificate issued by the Virginia Board of Contractors. However, there is no need for general contractors to have a license at the state level in Colorado; however, some local communities do require this.

In addition, several jurisdictions require a broad understanding of building legislation, safety, construction terminology, and construction practices to be shown by contractors via the completion of an open-book, online examination. The Contractor’s License Reference Site will provide you with the information you need to become a contractor in your state with the appropriate credentials.

The Tasks and Responsibilities of the Contractor

Even if a contractor’s license is not required in your state, general contractors nevertheless need to become experts in a lot of other topics in addition to just leveling a window frame. Code requirements are something that every tradesman, including plumbers, electricians, carpenters, and HVAC installers, should be familiar with. A general should know these standards. When it is too cold to pour cement for it to cure properly (when the temperature is less than 40 degrees for three consecutive days), how to determine if a foundation is waterproofed correctly, how heavy a fireplace can be before it crashes through a floor, and a million other details that go into a building or remodeling a house need to be known by him or her.

General Contractor

A general contractor who employs subcontractors must, in addition to having expertise in construction, be able to operate a small company efficiently. This includes being able to pay personnel, creating marketing and advertising campaigns, and withholding and paying employment taxes.

The character of the contractor is another important consideration. In addition to working with materials, contractors often interact directly with customers. They need to be able to motivate others to do their best job and have the patience to deal with customers who are prone to making impulsive decisions or taking an inordinate amount of time to settle on a color palette. A competent general is aware that there is no profit to be made in drama and can develop solutions that are both speedy and cost-effective. The workday is packed with a dozen different difficulties.

Where to Go for Guides and How to Get Started in the Construction Profession

How exactly does one go about becoming a contractor with all of this knowledge under their belt? Tim Shigley, a contractor based in Brooklyn, New York, and the 2016 Remodelers chair for the National Association of Home Builders, believes that the best way to learn how to become a general contractor is to work for one for at least five years, learning the business “from the studs up.” This is the best way to learn how to become a general contractor. Additionally, joining the local branch of the NAHB is a smart option. There, seasoned professionals are delighted to serve as mentors to novices.


Because, let’s face it: television shelter programs in which any Tom, Dick, or Hammer can transform a claustrophobic one-bedroom apartment into an open-plan paradise provide an inaccurate idea of what it takes to become a general contractor. Shigley claims that television producers are making a program, but that they live it. According to him, genuine contractors are less flashy but more committed to the construction and renovation industries.