You may know what a contractor is in a general sense, but have you ever wondered what the exact legal definition of a contractor is? And what contractor category you might fall under? If you haven’t though about it yet, you should! The Louisiana Contractors Licensing Law has a list of definitions for various types of contractors and work. Here at Smiley Law we think it is important to know how the law will recognize you and your projects. There are many examples of cases we handle where these very definitions make or break the case for a client. There are a number of contingencies that rely on the legal definitions of contractors.

These are some of the important general definitions to keep in mind:


A “contractor” is any person, supplier, manufacturer, or employee of such person who a person who contracts to furnish supplies or perform work at a certain price or rate.

General Contractor

A “general contractor” or “primary contractor” is any person or business that contracts directly with the owner.


A “subcontractor” is any person or business that contracts directly with the primary contractor (or with another contractor) for the performance of a part of the principal contract.

Electrical Contractor

An “electrical contractor” is any person or business that performs specialized work relating to the design, installation and maintenance of electrical systems for any residential, commercial or other project.

Residential Building Contractor

A “residential building contractor” is any person or business that constructs or works on a fixed building or structure for sale or for use by another as a residence.

Home Improvement Contractor

A “home improvement contractor” is any person or business that works on the reconstruction, alteration, renovation, or repair of any pre‐existing owner occupied building that building is used or designed to be used as a residence or dwelling unit. A home improvement contractor may be the primary contractor or the subcontractor. on the project.

Mechanical Contractor

“Mechanical contractor” is any person or business who performs a mechanical repair, alteration or installation for a building or structure.

These definitions are general in nature. There are statutes and case law that lay out specific definitions for the different type of contractors who perform work in Louisiana. These definitions can have both contractual implications and will determine the lien rights for a contractor. Knowledge is key here.

As a contractor, you may fall into one or more of the above categories. Be aware of the relevant legal and financial responsibilities applicable to your specific category. Keep in mind that these definitions are not exclusive and are only offered here in part. We recommend that you check the law of your jurisdiction for further information. We also encourage you to speak to a professional in your industry and to qualified legal counsel who can help you determine your place in the construction world. The attorneys at Smiley Law are always ready to take your construction-related questions.

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