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How to Hire A Building Contractor or Renovator

14 Must Do Tips on Hiring a Contractor

You've made the decision to do some upgrades, additions or remodelling around the house and you need to find a good contractor to manage the job for you. As a custom home builder and construction project manager, these are the things I would look for if I were hiring a home contractor.

  1. Be as organized as you can be prior to bringing contractors in to quote. Not knowing what you want can lead to higher prices to cover what the contractor thinks might happen.
  2. Your friends/family can be your best resource in finding a reputable contractor. Ask them who they have used in the past and how the project went. It is a well-known fact that every good contractor gets the majority of their work from word of mouth.
  3. Shop around and get at least 2 quotes for your home renovation project.
  4. Ask for references from each contractor that quotes on your project and call those references.
  5. Talk to each contractor during the bidding process. Ask a lot of questions since you will likely make your decision on who you will use based on the comfort factor of that conversation.
  6. The lowest price isn't necessarily the best deal. Make sure you are comparing apples to apples.
  7. Negotiate. There aren't always hard and fast rules that a contractor uses to price a job, and quite often there is some room for them to lower their initial price.
  8. Make sure everything is in writing and signed by both parties. Assume that if it is not in writing, you are not going to get it.
  9. Ensure your contractor is properly covered with Liability Insurance. No contractor plans on having an incident, but even with the best of planning and good intentions, unforeseen situations can occur that may involve an insurance claim. Notifying your insurance company as to what you are doing may help to ensure you are covered from your end.
  10. Ensure both parties agree on the times that the contractor can work within your home. You may not want them there after 5:00 pm so it's best to establish those timelines prior to starting.
  11. If you need to establish a deadline for the project, communicate this to your contractor. It's your call as to how to enforce the deadline. It may be an incentive, a penalty or nothing at all. However, do keep in mind that a renovation project will run into snags. It is not uncommon for deadlines to be missed, and as many times as not, the contractor is not fully at fault. Unless there is a mandatory deadline such as a house closing or a wedding, imposing penalties is not productive for either party.
  12. Ensure the terms of the warranty are spelled out clearly in the contract. Generally all materials and workmanship are guaranteed for 2 years from the completion of the project.
  13. Ensure payment terms are specifically laid out in a separate schedule within the contract. Paying money up front is never a good idea. This has been the cause of home owners being defrauded in the past, and this in turn tarnishes the reputation of an industry which generally consists of reputable and honest people. If your contractor must pre-order / pre-pay for materials such as kitchen cabinets, ask them for proof of the order or confirm with the company the materials were ordered from. Ensure the final payment is held until the contractor's work is complete.
  14. If your Contractor does a good job, ensure they are paid as agreed and refer their company to your friends and family. You will likely need them back again someday, and referrals go a long way to establishing a solid relationship for those future projects.

Harlequin Homes has been building new homes and renovating existing homes since 1993. For more information or to discuss your upcoming project, give us a call at 1-416-771-8597.

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