What Does a Home Improvement Contractor Do!

06:09 Mar 2023
Home Improvement Contractor Houston

Home Improvement contractors come in many different types and sizes. From roof repairs to flooring replacements, there are contractors offering house improvement services for almost every item in the house.

As a homeowner, we accept that house maintenance is an inevitable requirement of owning a house. But when we need various types of repairs or improvements, we are bombarded by the mass number of contractors that show up under a search quarry.  

Most home improvement contractors can be categorized as either repairs, service replacement, or discretionary improvements. These different improvement categories are usually driven by product service obsolescence, house maintenance, and house decor updating.

These three different house improvement types represent the estimated $500 billion in home improvement expenditures annually in the US. These numbers include all improvements of multifamily and single-family residential, as well as retail product sales for the DIY (do it yourself) sector.

Learn about all the Different Types of Home Improvement Contracts in Houston

We will focus on the distinctive differences in when a homeowner should hire a home improvement contractor, a repair contractor, a service contractor, or a remodeling contractor to implement home improvement services.

Different Types of Home Improvement Contractors

  • Home Service Repairs
  • Home Product Replacement
  • Remodel Contractors
  • General Contractors

Home Product Replacement Contractors

Home improvement contractors are a massive category that typically includes all home service contractors. It includes general contractors, subcontractors, building contractors, product replacement contractors, home service contractors and remodel contractors.

It is an aggregate term that encompasses all home contracting disciplines except for the DIY sector. Contractors are often required to be licensed in different states and cities. In Houston, only a small number of house contractors are required to be licensed.

The major home improvement contractors that are required to be licensed in Houston are plumbers, heating and air conditioning, and electricians. There are other minor contractors such as home security contractors that require licensing in Houston, but for the most part, the state of Texas and the city of Houston do not require trade skill licensing but do require building permits.

As a rule of thumb, the City of Houston does not require permits for decorating items and certain home replacement products. House improvements that do not require permits typically include such products and services as painting, flooring, and certain appliances.

Product replacements such as air conditioners, hot water heaters, and replacing kitchen cabinets do require permits. Permits and inspections play a significant role in providing assurance that products are installed properly and increase the homeowner’s safety.

Home Improvement Contractor Houston

Home Service Repairs

Non-licensed / non-permit required replacement products can generally be provided and installed by anyone competent to install them safely in your home. These items are appliance repairs, air conditioning repairs, plumbing repairs, locksmiths, broken glass repairs, general painting, etc.

The risk associated with the installation of non-permit-required replacement products is that the contractor can damage other property while installing the replacement product. These are known as consequential damages that result from tradespeople accidentally damaging property.

For instance, if you have a painter spraying your home with a paint sprayer and your car gets coated with overspray. The same painter can accidentally knock over enamel paint on a tile floor and damage the grout. These things and other accidents much worse happen every day.

An additional risk is when a homeowner buys and pays for the product to be installed and the contractors misapply the product or damage the product during installation. Sure, you can withhold payment but you still have a damaged installed product and the aggravation of fighting with the installing contractor over payment.

Home Product Replacement Contractors

These types of home improvement contractors provide materials and labor to replace damaged or obsolete house products. Examples of these are gutters, roof shingles, flooring, appliances, and fences. 

For the purposes of this article, we will define home product replacement contractors as individuals (Chuck in a Truck) or retail product companies that provide services and install home improvement products.

A great number of these services and products are home replacement products that are mechanically malfunctioning or have reached the end of their service life. These products typically require one skilled crew (1 or more technicians) to remove and replace a comparable product.

This segment of the home improvement industry is by far the largest sector. The products are typically designed to be installed by a non-licensed semi-skilled technician. These types of replacement products generally can be classified as exterior and interior products.

Exterior replacement products include fences, roofs, gutters, windows, exterior doors, and landscaping to mention a few.

 Non-licensed interior replacement products include appliances, drain clogs, painting, and flooring.

There are as previously mentioned licensed replacement contractors such as plumbers, heating and air conditioning, and electricians. These product replacement and service providers are required to be licensed and permit their work.

They are required by the State of Texas to serve an apprenticeship and pass a skills exam. They also may come as a crew (one or more) to perform their service.

In the event of a requirement for product replacement contractors, there is usually little need for remodel contractors or general contractors due to a lack of construction management services being required.

The product replacement contractor can typically complete the entire product replacement work by themselves and not be coordinated with other skilled trades.

Remodel Contractors

Remodel contractors are represented as either “Chuck in a Truck” or a construction company that provides one or more services associated with a home improvement project. These types of home improvement contractors often operate as self-performing employee crews.

A good example of remodel contractor would be a trim carpenter who might build cabinetry and install moldings but will bring in a painter to apply the finish to his work. The carpenter may even undertake a kitchen or bathroom renovation. He would then bring in the required plumber and electrician as needed.

In the example of the carpenter representing remodel contractors, the distinctive differences are that their business models are capable of doing good remodeling work. They are able to operate with employees much more cost-effectively than with general contractors. This makes them competitive on small to midsize projects.

Although the limitation of remodel contractors is when the scope of a project becomes more complex involving structural engineers and structural modifications to the home. Complex projects often require detailed construction documents, permits, energy calculation worksheets, surveys & topography.

Generally speaking, remodel contractors are not best fitted to implement structural changes or facilitate complex home additions. They do not have the subcontractor network or general experience to properly carry out the required expertise.

General Contractors

General contractors are typically required when a project has a larger number of moving parts and requires structural modifications. General contractors operate with subcontractors and are well-suited to match the workforce with the requirements of the project.

A project that requires major elements of structural design and construction management coordination would typify the need for a general contractor. They have the experience and capabilities of developing construction documents as well as facilitating engineering and inspection reports, shop drawings, and the development of scope of work specifications for subcontractor tasks.

Projects such as whole home renovations, second-story living areas being added to existing one-story homes, and home additions being blended into existing living structures are excellent project fits for general contractors. They thrive with complicated and challenging projects that have unknown factors in a fluid-like environment.

Projects that require challenging construction management skills also are a good fit for general contractors. When a homeowner is in need of a trusted adviser to guide them through a project, they are best advised to hire a general contractor.

The homeowner will sometimes pay more for general contractors than remodel contractors but will receive a higher level of professional guidance, performance assurances, and generally a better customer experience. The remodel with also likely be documented better. The financial and administrative documents produced like contracts, insurance, and inspection reports are commonly created by the general contractor.


There are many different levels and skill sets to select from when it comes to home improvement contractors. As discussed, the proper contractor to select is determined by the complexity of the renovation project and the amount of risk the homeowner is willing to accept in executing their project.

The owner is advised to carefully consider their project complexities, financial restraints, and systemic risk associated with construction activities.

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