Which Construction Jobs Are the Hardest?

While home improvement shows make work look easy, CraftJack's recent survey reveals what contractors and consumers consider to be the toughest jobs

Getty Images/ ZelmaB

Home shows have a way of making even the messiest, curse-worthy demolitions and tricky renovations look deceptively easy. They do, after all, need to fit weeks or months of work and filming into 30 minutes or less.

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Contractors who are dripping in sweat digging out rock, surrounded by sawdust crafting the perfect fireplace mantel, or contorting themselves running new wires or pipes know home renovation reality is much more grueling and potentially dangerous than it looks on TV. And this is not always something consumers fully grasp.

To find out what tradesmen and women and homeowners perceived as the hardest jobs — physically demanding as well as demanding in ability — CraftJack, an online site matching consumer projects to available contractors, decided to survey more than 1,600 contractors and about 650 consumers. It ranked 32 types of work, from plumbing and junk collecting to masonry, doors and windows.

Overall, carpentry rose to the top. This specialty seemed to draw the greatest respect, acknowledged as physically difficult while requiring expertise and thorough training to master it.

Demo, Roofs Rank Tough on the Body

When it came to the most physically demanding work, contractors and consumers agreed on the top two jobs: demolition and roofing. Each requires plenty of strength, balance and caution to safely and successfully complete the task.

Contractors voted carpentry and drywall/insulation tied for third among the most physically demanding jobs. Consumers, however, went with drywall/insulation and excavating, followed closely by landscaping.

Painters, carpet cleaners and electricians also self-ranked their specialties as physically demanding.

Electrical, Carpentry Rank High for Training

Electrical work led the pack for home improvement jobs requiring the most rigorous training and expertise. It had 23 percent of the vote from contractors and 35 percent from consumers. Carpentry, HVAC and creating cabinets and countertops followed. Trailing behind those was plumbing. Contractors listed plumbing at eight percent, tying it with masonry and drywall and insulation.

Flooring and cleaning specialists also considered their crafts among the toughest to learn.

CraftJack conducted the survey in November 2019. The age of the average respondent was 43. Look here for the CraftJack survey’s full details.

Lisa Meyers McClintick
Lisa Meyers McClintick is an award-winning Minnesota-based freelancer specializing in travel across the Upper Midwest and to national parks across the United States. She has been a longtime contributor to USA Today, Midwest Living magazine, and the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and also has written for Minnesota Monthly, TravelChannel.com and AAA publications. Her specialties include watching wildlife and birding, harvest travel, hands-on art and history, gardens and wildflowers, quirky small towns and scenic outdoors. She's a member of Society of American Travel Writers and Midwest Travel Journalists Association, which named her the 2019 Travel Writer of the Year. She's also an award-winning photographer and teaches workshops on memoir and creative writing, photography, travel, and creating sketchbooks and journals.