Hiring the Right Renovator (For People Who Don’t Know About Renovating)


You’ve decided to renovate your home. You might be doing it because you want a change of scenery; your home is your sanctuary, after all, and you want it to reflect how you feel! You might be doing it because there’s damage in one of your rooms that needs repairs, and you figure you might as well spruce the place up a bit while you’re fixing things up. You might be doing it because you want to sell your home, or you want to flip a property, and you expect added value as a result of the renovation. No matter what your goals are, if you don’t know what to look for in a renovation company, you’re in the right place.


Set Your Priorities


The first step to hiring the right renovator is to figure out exactly what you want from the project. For those looking for an aesthetic change, this is relatively easy; create mood boards, make drawings, jot down notes, and start looking at completed projects by prospective contractors. You can even e-mail contractors with an outline of the work you want to be done, and ask them to send pictures of any similar work they’ve completed.


For those looking for repair and renovation work, you’ll want to find a contractor who can handle every element of your project. If you are environmentally conscious you want someone who can recommend and install solar panels. When you need new pipes installed, you’ll want a renovator who has plumbing skills, or who works closely with plumbing subcontractors; the same goes for electrical, or any other type of repair work. You can find the answer to these questions during an interview with the contractor (we’ll discuss this later).


For those looking to flip a home, it’s all about budget. You want to make money off of the home’s sale, so you should have a good idea of what kinds of renovations sell. Figure out what rooms you want to be renovated; check this article by HGTV and this article by ReMax to get an idea about what renovations will give you the best ROI. Get quotes from multiple contractors to find one who fits your budget, but remember: the cheapest option isn’t always the best. When the work is poorly done, you might actually decrease the value of your home. That brings us to our next point…


Assessing a Contractor’s Skills


There’s a lot of ways to assess a contractor’s abilities. The first is word of mouth. There are three main ways of getting reviews for renovators; the degree of familiarity with the source of the review is a huge factor in how much you should trust it. That means the best reviews come from friends and family who have had their homes renovated; if you like the renovation, ask them who did it, how long it took, and how satisfied they were with the renovator’s work and demeanour.


Lacking references from friends, you can talk to professionals you work with about any renovation work they’ve had done. Doctors, lawyers, bankers, accountants, or contractors who don’t do renovation work themselves are incentivized to point you to the best renovators. They want your business, after all, and a bad reference could hurt your relationship.

The second option: contractor sourced referrals. These are provided to you by the contractor, but enable you to talk to multiple, real people. The last is online reviews; these are best used as a way to cement other reviews you’ve heard, as more and more online review sites and systems are being gamed.


The next part of assessing skills is to ask about licensing. Depending on the type of renovation you’re getting done, you might need the labourers in your home to have a number of different licenses; licensed plumbers, licensed electricians, licensed drywallers, carpenters, and more. Confirm with your contractor that they have employees or subcontractors with all the necessary licenses. You want a company with a lot of connections with subcontractors, lest you have to hire your own landscaper, electrician and roofer.


Look at the contractor’s portfolio; see the work that they’ve completed. When you like what you see, it’s a good sign that the renovator does high-quality work that you’ll be happy with.


Interview and Compare


We’re in the information era; that means you have access to the names and numbers of a variety of different renovators at your fingertips. Once you’ve narrowed down your options with the steps mentioned above, get estimates from a number of renovators, and compare prices.


As I’ve mentioned, price isn’t everything; you need to feel like you can work comfortably with the renovator. The Canadian Homebuilder’s Association has a list of interview questions you can ask your renovator, as well as a handy, printable contractor interview cheat-sheet. The questions you want to ask include the price, suggestions on how to improve the project you’ve got planned (and what they think of it, overall) if they’ve done similar renovations before, if they use their own staff or subcontractors if you’ll get a written estimate and contract, what their plan to execute the project is if they’re bonded and insured, and what kind of warranty they offer.


What to Watch Out For


There’s a lot of warning signs in this industry. When a company hasn’t got experienced staff, you should be wary. When they don’t offer a written contract or estimate, run. When there’s no warranty on their work, they aren’t licensed, bonded, or insured, run even faster. Pay attention to how you feel when you’re talking about the project; if the renovator seems disinterested, or they’re not paying attention, or you get a bad feeling, these can all be signs that you should find another company to handle your work. When they don’t do a thorough inspection of the area you want to be renovated before they start, you should be wary; this means good renovators will often charge you for a quote. There are so many red flags, it’s almost impossible to list them all, so check out this article by Mike Holmes on red flags for renovation.


No matter what level of experience you started with, you should now have a really good idea about what to look for in a renovator. We hope this article helped; get in touch with us to let us know! If you also feel you are the right kind of renovator and you want to join our team as a Construction Project Manager please click “Apply Now” and follow the instructions.


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