What to Look for in a Contractor

When you decide to renovate your home, that’s a big project with a significant investment, no matter the size and scope of the project. If the project scope requires a professional, and its not something to DIY, you will need to consider a few important factors when looking for the right contractor for the job. It is always safer to go with a General Contractor if renovating is not something you are familiar with yourself. Contractors are experts in what they do, and are better equipped to solve problems that arise and make sure your reno stays within budget. What you need is an experienced, or skilled contractor that is reputable, meets your needs and is someone you can trust. Let’s take a look at some key factors to consider when hiring a contractor.


1. Know Your Project


A renovation is your project, so you need to know what your ideas are ahead of time. Plan out your goals for the reno, what you need to add, what designs you like, and so forth. Knowing this can help contractors better understand the project, give you more accurate estimates, and be aware of the project’s scope.


2. Get Multiple Estimates


Do not just choose one contractor and call it a day. Each contractor has its own relationships with suppliers and subcontractors that can affect the overall cost. They can also offer wildly different estimates. Contractor A may give you a cheaper estimate but then not proving the same amount of work you are looking for. On the other hand, a high estimate can indicate quality materials and craftsmanship. It is important to get at least five to compare and see what budget you really should be looking at. Plus, it gives you a sense of the work the contractor does.


3. Do Your Research


Recommendations are often key when finding a contractor to work with. However, you should still do some research on the names being sent your way. Know where they are located, and make sure they are licensed, bonded, and insured. Check testimonials if possible to see if every client had the same positive experience. If possible, you may even want to check that their licenses are still up to date. You want to protect yourself, as renovating is a hefty investment and you don’t want to be stuck with a shoddy reno.


4. Along with the above, know the Contractor’s Skillset


Not all contractors are efficient in each area of a renovation. There are specialists for electricians, plumbing, HVAC, flooring, etc. There are also the do it all contractors who will do the whole project themselves. You will want to know if the contractor’s abilities are appropriate for your project. And if not, ask if they work as a team with specialists, as some subcontract out to do. Look at examples of their work if possible to get a sense of the quality of materials and craftsmanship. Also note their response to inquiries, communication, cleanliness, professionalism and timeliness. You want the contractor to be professional and courteous with you. 


5. Be Prepared with Boundaries


When you have workmen in your home, you want them to respect it by laying some ground rules. Especially if there is anything that would concern you. For example, if you want them to enter only through the garage, use a specific bathroom, or if they can eat on-site. There could be many rules you would like to set to ensure the workers are respectful of being in your home. What boundaries you wish to set are up to you.


6. Get a Scope of Work


After estimates, many contractors will prepare a Scope of Work which will be a full detailed rundown of the job budget as individual line items for labor, materials, fees, and whatever else pertains to the project. Some contractors do this as their free estimate, whereas others need a deposit first or a fee. This document will show you what is being paid for, with materials and labour being done and a potential timeline. No contractor should be asking for a full cash payment upfront. And ALWAYS get a written contract before payment or starting work.


7. Be Prepared to Settle Conflict


You want to choose a contractor you feel is trustworthy and has strong communication skills. You want to feel comfortable speaking with them if there are issues, questions or concerns. Professionals will provide written communication and contracts upfront. Ask about change orders and policies if accidental damage occurs while workers are at your home.


8. Know Your Contract


A professional contract will outline the entire scope of work for your renovation with agreed-upon timelines, payment terms, and any permits and fees necessary. Be sure to read it carefully and understand the services being rendered. The contract should detail what you, the client are liable for, and what the contractor is responsible for. There should be policies on cancellation and default, warranty, etc. If you have any concerns, mention them to the contractor.


Following these eight tips will help you in your search to find a contractor for your reno. If you are looking to renovate, Marvellous Contracting is the trusted renovation company in Hamilton

Written by Aaron P

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