Trust In Your Workers

Winter is barely here, but many of us are already daydreaming about home renovation projects we'd like to have done next spring. It's definitely not too early to start making plans, as many of the good contractors and tradespeople are already booked into next spring and summer! Here are some points to discuss with your potential contractor when considering if they're the right one for your remodeling or renovation project.

1. How long have you been in business, in this area? A local contractor is not only easier to access, but might also use local subcontractors and suppliers, which can make your job go quicker. An experienced contractor may also have already worked through any local bylaw considerations and be able to give you the benefit of experience with similar jobs in your neighbourhood.

2. Let's talk about the paperwork. Ask to see the required worker certifications specific to the job being done, whether it's a contractor's credential, an electrical license or a plumbing certification. Also verify that the contractor has both workers' compensation and liability insurance coverage specifically for the type of work involved. Depending on the job being conducted, discuss if building permits will be required and if so, confirm if the contractor will arrange for them on your behalf, and if that cost is included in the estimate or is to be paid separately.

3. Could you provide me with some references? The contractor and his entourage will be spending a lot of time in your personal space, and you'll be paying them a lot of money to work on your home. You need to be confident in not only the contractor's and his team's character but also their ability to get the job done, so don't be shy to ask for references.

When you call those references, find out if they were happy with the contractor, the workers, and the work that was done. Ask specific questions, including:

Was the job completed on time and on budget?
Was the contractor present to oversee the work, and available when you had questions?
Did the workers clean up after each work day, and create an organized and safe working environment?
If there was any issues, were they resolved to your satisfaction?
Were you happy with the final outcome of your project?

4. Could you please itemize your estimate? While your eye will automatically first go to the final, bottom-line price of your written estimate, make sure you understand exactly how much you'll be paying for each individual aspect of the job.

Whether your project involves plumbing, electrical work, carpentry, drywall, painting, or a myriad of other renovation components, you will want to know exactly where your hard-earned money is going, from materials, to demolition and getting rid of the trash, to the specifics of the rebuild.

5. Will we be seeing you every day, or will a project manager oversee my project? Confirm who the hands-on team will be, and how involved the contractor will be in the day-to-day activities.

The more questions you ask up-front, the less surprises you will encounter with your renovation team later, so make sure you do your due diligence before signing on any dotted lines.