Hiring the right contractor is the essential first step to any home renovation project – especially if you hope to save time, money and avoid stressful reno-related problems. Below are our top five must-know tips for choosing the right professional for your next project.
Tip 1= Ask For Recommendations and Referrals
Of course, you’ll want to hit the web to explore potential contractors, but it is also highly recommended you ask for recommendations or referrals from:
- The RenoMark program (through the Canadian Home Builders’ Association, or CHBA)
- Local building supply chains (i.e. Home Depot or Lowe’s)
- Edmonton’s Better Business Bureau
- Friends or family who have committed to similar projects
From here, you can make a list of potential candidates whom you think will be best suited for the job.
Tip 2= Brush Up On Your Interview Skills
Now that you’ve compiled your list, it’s time to zero-in on potential candidates. You’ll want to call and interview each prospect to a) find out if they are the right contractor for you and b) ensure you’re comfortable and confident with the services they’re offering.
In your interview, be sure to ask the following:
- How long have you been in business?
- What kind of work do you specialize in?
- How much experience do you have (with this specific type of project)?
- How do you operate (i.e. do they do the work themselves or hire subcontractors)?
- Can you deliver an estimate for both cost and timeframe for completion?
- Will you provide the permits required for the project (if any)?
- Do you provide worker’s compensation and liability insurance?
- Do you provide a written contract? (more on that below)
For a complete list of important contractor interview questions, we recommend downloading the Contractor Interview Worksheet, courtesy of the CBHA.
Tip 3 = Check References
In interviewing potential contractors, you’ll also want to request a list of past clients who you can contact for references. Keep in mind, a reputable contractor who is proud of their work should be more than happy to share this information with you. A refusal to share references should be considered a major red flag.
Tip 4 = Ask For a Detailed Estimate
Once you’ve been specific with the scope of work, the finishes you want and the types of materials (quality and brand) you expect, ask for a detailed estimate outlining the following information:
- A description of the work to be performed and completed
- How long the project will take from start to completion
- Itemized costs and the total price for each
- Expected methods of payment
- A written statement of all guarantees made by the contractor
Note: When it comes to costs, remember, cheaper isn’t always better. Some estimates may not include everything you’re looking for (therefore costing extra time and money), so be sure to carefully review the details.
Step 5 = Get It In Writing
As we mentioned above, it’s imperative to ask potential contractors if they provide a written contract. Not only will this protect you in the event of low-quality work, but it will also keep you from losing your deposit and/or overpaying in general.
Here’s what to look for in your written contract:
- The project start and end date
- A clearly outlined payment schedule detailing how much you’ll be required to pay during each stage (note: according to experts, payments should be based on milestones, not timing)
- A clear description of the work to be completed
- A description of all work to be provided and the agreed-upon price
For a more detailed list of what should be included in your renovation contract, see the Government of Alberta’s Hiring a Contractor guidelines.
Wait! Before you go, don’t forget to grab your FREE copy of our Step By Step Guide to Renovating Your Home. In it, you’ll learn everything you need to know about:
- How you can assess your home’s current condition
- Easy project planning
- Renovation projects that will deliver the best bang for your buck
- And much more!
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