October 13, 2017

Smart renovations

Take the time to research and hire a professional

By Neil Moody

Renovations can be a relatively smooth and exciting process if you take the time to do it right. No renovation is the same, but there are some key steps you will want to follow every time.
Before you start, be realistic with your time frame and budget. Decide what you would like to accomplish and what you can afford to spend on the project. Ensure your budget allows for any changes or unexpected costs that may occur along the way. For example: Should you consider alternative living arrangements during construction?
Your next step is to find the right renovator for your project. You want to work with a contractor who is upfront, reliable and has the right tradespeople or staff to support your project needs. Never be embarrassed to ask questions. It is equally important that you are clear about your vision so that the quotes you receive will reflect what you would like to complete.
To help decide on whom to work with, ask for references or view past project photos. This information can help reduce any concerns: If your contractor tells you every project is finished on time, check with the contractor’s references.
The final step before you get started is to make sure everything is in writing. An industry professional offers a detailed project contract that covers what will be done, when, and how much it will cost. Any details you have agreed to—such as warranties, insurance, or liens—must be outlined in writing to protect yourself if there is a dispute.
Walk away if a contractor asks to be paid in cash or doesn’t agree to a contract. Even if the price is lower, a cash deal is not worth the risks. Without a contract, you are not protected and have no recourse or record of work should anything go wrong.
Finally, it may be tempting to do a renovation yourself or move quickly to save money. Yet without prior experience and training, the process is more complicated than it looks on television. Filing for permits, ensuring the project meets the building code, managing inspections, and monitoring site safety are some of the requirements of a renovation. Taking on the project as a do-it-yourself may end up costing more money than hiring a professional in the first place.

To learn more about renovations or to find a contractor, visit renomonth.ca.
Neil Moody is the CEO of the Canadian Home Builders’ Association of BC

Top 10 tips for a successful renovation

  1. Plan out your vision of what you want to achieve.
  2. Determine what you would like to spend, saving room for unexpected costs.
  3. Seek multiple quotes from different contractors in your area.
  4. Confirm your contractor carries proper insurance and is up to date with WorkSafe BC.
  5. Determine what warranty you will have for the project, and for how long.
  6. Demand at least three references from your potential contractor.
  7. Get everything in writing and refuse to pay in cash. A verbal assurance is not enough.
  8. Verify that all of the required permits have been obtained.
  9. Stay in touch with your contractor throughout the project. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
  10. Pay your contractor on time. Hold back the agreed amount for builders’ liens during the holdback period.

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