Top Tips for Hiring the Right Contractor

Finding a contractor you can trust to complete your home renovation projects in a professional manner, within a reasonable timeframe and at a fair price can seem daunting, but it’s well worth putting in some upfront research time to get it right. 

Home renovation is a huge market in Canada – representing more than $80 billion spent in 2019. And although things slowed in 2020 with the uncertainty of COVID-19, many people are again spending money to improve their homes as we’re spending more time indoors. 

Here are five key tips to keep in mind when you’re in the market to hire a contractor to tackle your home improvements – big or small:

1 Ask for recommendations

Check in with friends and family to see if they’ve had positive experiences with contractors or know of anyone in their circles who have undergone renovations recently. If you’re a member of your local community’s Facebook Page or have a lot of local people following you on social media, that’s another great resource for finding someone reliable. Finally, don’t hesitate to check in with your home inspector, Realtor or mortgage broker for local recommendations as well. Be sure to look for online feedback once you have a list of recommended contractors. Check out their social media and websites, and Google them.

2 Interview contractors

Once you’ve built your list of locally recommended contractors, set up a phone call or video chat so you can see if they offer services that meet your needs. Do they take on projects your size? How many other projects would they have going at the same time? How long have they worked with their subcontractors? How long do they think your project will take to complete? 

3 Get bids

You now have your short list of contractors with solid track records and responsible work ethics. A professional contractor will want a complete set of blueprints as well as to understand your project goals and budget. To compare bids, ask everyone to break down the cost of materials, labour and other expenses. Also pay close attention to timeframes and any special considerations that could slow down your project. As with anything, cheapest isn’t always the best.

4 Create a payment schedule

After you’ve selected the right contractor, It’s best to set out a payment schedule before work begins. Payment schedules can speak to a contractor’s financial status and work ethic. If they want half the bid upfront, they may have financial problems or be worried that you won’t pay the rest after you’ve seen their work. For large projects, a reasonable schedule usually starts with 10% at contract signing, three payments of 25% percent evenly spaced over the duration of the project and the final 15% payable once the project is complete.

5 Put it in writing

Don’t leave your project details to chance. Draw up a contract that lays out every step of the project including the payment schedule, proof of liability insurance and worker’s compensation payments, a start date and projected completion date, and specific materials and products to be used. 

Be sure to put aside extra funds to cover unexpected expenses along the way. It would be extremely disappointing if you stretched yourself to the outer limits of your budget with no contingency plans and something went wrong. 

Inspect the work

renovation inspection of contractor workFinally, it’s important to get your renovation project inspected to set your mind at ease that everything has been completed properly and your money has been well spent. 

Renovation problems typically stem from the use of sub-standard materials, poor workmanship or unfinished projects. To the untrained eye, it can often be difficult to know if you’re getting your money’s worth. Our home inspectors can assess a renovation job near completion to ensure everything’s being done correctly. This can save you time, money and a world of grief if your contractor isn’t completing your renovations properly.

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