Quite a lot of people we know are opting to renovate their homes instead of selling and buying an updated property. It makes sense when you look at real estate prices out there and the costs associated with moving nowadays. Most properties are simply out of reach for many homebuyers and now mortgage rates are rising too. The choice to upgrade the family home or condo is probably far more economical – in more ways than one.
Trouble is, finding a contractor with whom you connect and trust and can build a relationship with – especially if your reno plans are extensive – may prove difficult. It’s a dilemma many homeowners are facing and when we talk to our friends who’re planning new kitchens, bathrooms or more, they’re all hunting around for a reliable contractor with whom they can build a good rapport and feel they can trust, to hire.
Where To Start
The best way to find a contractor is to start by asking your friends who they’ve used and whether or not they were satisfied with the results of their renovations. If this isn’t feasible, do some research…and then do some more research. Local home décor magazines are a great place to find inspiration and often will list the companies/suppliers/designers involved. But that still isn’t enough. You want to find a trustworthy contractor to execute your dream and that means often relying on referrals from satisfied homeowners such as your neighbours and friends as well as online or print advertising and reviews.
Once you have a list of candidates you feel may fit the bill, start by asking each one some pertinent questions relevant to your project.
Check references and qualifications during an in-person interview. This includes their training, certification(s), licences, and a portfolio of completed projects that are similar in scope to yours for review.
- Verify their insurance, permits and licences. Ensure they have ALL the correct work permits for the job to be done and that they offer a warranty on the work they’ll do. Also ensure they are fully insured for liability/workman’s compensation. Ask to see proof of all these items. A reliable contractor will furnish you with the paperwork, no question.
- Get competitive bids. Meet with at least three contractors before making any decisions. Verify that they have an actual business (street) address and check it out in person to be sure they are a bonafide company. Interview each candidate at the site of your project so they can better gauge the scope of work involved. Only accept written proposals/bids, not verbal. If the contractor cannot give you a quote in writing, walk away. All bids should be based on the same elements and time frame so all parties quoting on your project are bidding on the exact same “job”. Bids should include a detailed list of all costs: permits, materials, labour, terms of payment and a payment schedule, timeframe, inclusions and exclusions.
- Ask lots of questions. Every little detail should be considered and your chosen contractor ought to be able to answer any and all queries about the project and how they’ll approach it, making suggestions and sharing ideas with you too. If the three or four bids you receive from your prospective contractors are wildly different from each other, ask for reasons why – and get as many detailed answers as possible.
- Is the contractor willing to provide some fairly comprehensive layouts or concept boards? Show them your plans/drawings if you have made any, or any photo references you may have of ideas that appeal to you to get them started and include a list of your specific needs/wants. Make a review of each contractor’s proposal of how they see your ideas playing out and make any changes you feel are not in line with your vision, or your budget. A good contractor will listen to you and advise you whether what you want is within your budget and if not, help you adjust accordingly.
Will You Get Along as the Project Moves Along?
Ultimately, price is just one factor when hiring a contractor. The other major factor is personal fit. The relationship between you and him/her will be extremely important, and a good one will mean your renovations run more smoothly than if there’s ongoing disputes. You’ll need to be on the same page and have mutual respect, trust and a good connection with each other to ensure you get what you want without arguments, misunderstandings, grumblings and so on. Choose carefully.
Renovating can be costly, and take an emotional toll. Afterall, your home will be full of workers and tradespeople accompanied by lots of noise, dust and chaos! Recognize that you and your contractor and his/her team will be spending a lot of time together and you need to build a reassuring degree of rapport. You want the process to go as smoothly as possible without any angst. Good communication between you and your contractor is super important, for your peace of mind and theirs.
A final word: Be sure to contact your home insurance provider to let them know you’ll be renovating – you want to know you’re completely insured, what your own liability coverage is for any mishaps and that your property is completely covered throughout the process.