How do you choose a credible contractor?

When thinking about doing a renovation one of the most difficult things can be trying to decide which contractor to use.

How do you know if the contractor is capable of completing your job? How do you know if the contractors price is fair? How do you know if the contractor will finish the job on time and in budget? These are just a few questions that homeowners face when trying to pick a credible contractor.

Research Your Own Home Renovation Ahead of Time

Whether you are renovating a small bathroom or completely gutting your home, you need to do your own research ahead of time. There is a lot of information you can find online and from making a few phone calls. Call your city’s building department and find out if you need a building permit(s). Take some time to read a few articles online about the type of renovation you want to do. Flip through a few DIY books at the library. I know you are busy but the time you spend doing this pre-renovation research can save you huge headaches, time and money later.

Interview at Least 3 Contractors

It is very important not to go with the first contractor you talk to. You can learn a lot by interviewing 3 or more contractors. Have your questions ready from the research your’ve done. If the city says you need permits ask the contractor if he thinks you will need permits and approximately how much they will cost. Have your questions written down and ask each contractor the same questions. Be judgemental… treat this like a real interview because that’s what it is. Did the contractor show up on time? Does he answer your phone calls? How was he dressed? Did the contractor come in a truck? These can be tell tale signs whether he is a true professional that will be easy to work with.

Do Your Due Diligence… Ask Your Contractor for References

Make sure one of your questions is “Do you have any references that I can contact?”. If they say no … move on. Make sure you call all the references and have questions ready the same way you did for the contractor. Ask the contractor for a minimum of 3 references, for a similar renovation to that of what you are requesting. Ask them about the time line. Did the Contractor stay on budget? Did the contractor always answer your phone calls? How did they deal with any changes or issues that arose during construction? Would you use them again to renovate your home?

Get a Detailed Contract & Scope of Work From Each Contractor

Make sure you are comparing apples to apples when it comes to the pricing. The bigger the project the larger the contract should be. Some standard information that should be included in the contract(s) are:

  • A specific/detailed scope of work. It should explain exactly whats being done and in what sequence.
  • What inspections are involved and when (City Building Departments and Electrical Safety Authority ESA)
  • Total cost for the renovation should be broken down into divisions (materials. labour, sub-contractors)
  • The contract should include payment terms and a payment schedule (How much money is due and when?)
  • Timelines…When is the start date? Good contractors are busy. If they can start tomorrow you should be concerned…Why aren’t they busy? Be prepared to wait anywhere from 1 – 6 months for a good contractor to start your renovation. Also the contract should include the anticipated completion date.
  • Warranties (What is and is not covered and for how long?)
  • What happens in the event of a change order? Things can arise unexpectedly when opening up walls and floors. What procedures will the contractor follow when this happens? Make sure all change orders are in written form.
  • Termination clause. What rights do you have to terminate the contract if you don’t like the way the renovation is being completed.
  • Get a signed copy! Make sure both parties have fully signed the contract and that you have a copy of it.

If you follow these steps you will be able to find a professional contractor that will get your renovation done with the least stress possible. Remember that your home is your largest investment and that a good renovation can increase its value!