You have a dream project in mind that will help make your house a home. You’re excited to begin, but without a contractor in mind, where do you start?
The steps you take next could make the difference between a renovation that adds value to your home and gives you joy for years to come, and one that, well, doesn’t.
- Look for experience – Beyond finding a contractor who can help you realize your vision, “the experience of the contractor needs to match the complexity of the project,” explains Blaise McDonald, from MAC Renovations. “For a major project, with a more significant level of complexity, you want to go with a firm that has a proven track record. Interview contractors and do your homework.”
- Ensure proper permits – The permitting process helps ensure projects are completed properly and safely. “Be wary of people who tell you that you don’t need permits. Ultimately the homeowner is responsible for ensuring the required permits are in place,” McDonald says.
- Check insurance – “Insurance is a big one – you want to ensure any contractor you’re considering hiring has appropriate liability insurance and that their Worksafe is in good standing,” McDonald says, noting that the prime contractor is the one responsible for health and safety on a project. When you hire a general contractor to oversee a project, that falls to them; if you hire two or more contractors to participate in a project, the responsibility is yours.
- Do your homework – With a variety of resources at your fingertips, it’s always a good idea to check into a contractor or company’s background. Look at reviews on Google or Houzz, for example, look for professional affiliations, such as the Canadian Home Builders Association, and ask for – and check – references, McDonald says. Chatting with those former clients, ask some specific questions: Was the crew respectful? Was the project on schedule? How were change orders handled? How was the experience at the project’s conclusion? “At the end of the day, you want to feel comfortable with the team that’s going to be working in your home for the next few months,” McDonald says.
- Get it in writing – Finally, ensure the full scope of the project is outlined in a contract, including costs, permitting procedures, timelines and procedures for changes and adjustments. Visit chbabc.org/get-it-in-writing for more information.