Specialty trade contractor start-up checklist

In the construction business, a general contractor performs or supervises a number of building trades or construction crafts. A specialty contractor, on the other hand, performs just one specific trade such as framing, roofing, or electrical work. Whether it's new work, additions, alterations, maintenance, or repairs, specialty trade contractors usually work under contract to general contractors or people who are developing or improving their own commercial or residential buildings.

Find out how the Specialty trade contractor start-up checklist can help you set up your business and understand your obligations.

For general information on business start-up, consult our Business start-up checklist.

  • Business start-up checklist
    When you're setting up your business, you need to ensure that all of your bases are covered. Consider the following steps as you navigate through the business start-up phase.

Knowing the specialty trade contractor industry

As a specialty trade contractor you need to know your industry thoroughly. Before you get your contracts in place it is necessary to find the correct niche for your business.

  • Canadian Industry Statistics — Speciality trade contractors (NAICS 238)
    Access information on revenues, expenses and profits for the specialty trade contracting industry.
  • Demographics
    Get data that sheds light on population characteristics such as location, age, income, education level, and more.
  • Construction
    Find statistics that will allow you to keep up with developments in the construction industry.
  • Franchising
    Learn more about buying a franchise as an option for starting a business.
  • Buying a business
    Find out what you need to know before buying a business: where to look, how to evaluate potential acquisitions, and what a fair price would be.

Setting up your specialty trade contractor business

Your business depends on the contracts you acquire and the future clients you attract. You will need to examine all the details necessary to keep your business rolling, including how you price your services to the tools and supplies you buy. Use these resources to help you set up your business efficiently.

Complying with specialty trade contractor regulations

To operate as a self-employed tradesperson, you will likely have to complete certain training and certification requirements, which have been/are determined by your province or territory. You can complete an apprenticeship program through your employer, or in some cases, challenge the certification exam (usually the Red Seal Exam) if you have significant experience in the field.

It is important that you set up your business as an independent contractor and not as an employee hired for your services. Legal obligations will depend on how you structure your business. Find out how these regulations can assist you in your business decisions.

Hiring and training your staff

Your specialty trade business may require specific training for you and your staff. Trades training and certification fall under provincial and territorial jurisdiction. Find out more information on what training you may need for your business.

Additional Resources

Whether you are just starting out or are an experienced entrepreneur who's been in business for years, you can never be too informed when it comes to your business.

  • Contact the Canada Business Network
    The Canada Business Network has centres across the country that offer guidance, information and resources to help make your journey in business a success.
  • Starting a business
    Want to be your own boss? Find out how to start a business.
  • Business support organizations
    Seeking the advice of peers, professional business counsellors and coaches can help you transition from new business owner to experienced entrepreneur.
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