Ten Things You Need to Know When Hiring a Contractor

Hardhat-and-floor-plansAt one time or another, we all need help from a professional; be it a doctor, lawyer, accountant or realtor. Home renovations are no different. Even the DIY “handyman” homeowner sometimes needs help from a renovation contractor for larger or more complex jobs.

Whether you’re planning to remodel your kitchen, renovate your basement suite, or build an addition, hiring a contractor with proper skills and expertise will ensure the job is done to your satisfaction and within your budget.

So, how do you find this builder? Then, how do you know you’ve made the right choice?

Here are ten things you need to do.

1. Hire a Contractor Who Has Experience With Your Type of Project

The neighbourhood roofer might be a nice guy, but he is not the right choice to raise your house or  redo your foundation. To tackle your project, you need someone with the technical know-how, business skills, interpersonal skills, tools, and history of success.

2. Hire a General Contractor With the Right Crews

A general contractor will know the materials and techniques needed for your renovation, along with any problems that may arise and how to solve them. Moreover, a professional contractor will have the right teams of carpenters, electricians and sub-trades.

3. Find a Contractor That Handles Both Design and Renovation

Working with a Certified Interior Designer is an essential part of planning. There is a fee for this service and it is worth it! The expense is necessary for the success of your project.

“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin.

4. Get Permits

Your contractor should advise you about all required municipal permits and how to get them. If not, he’s not your guy. Building permits are there for your protection. Without them, you risk your project being shut down and the expenses mounting dramatically, as shown here.

5. Do Your Research

Ask your personal advisors, friends and family who they recommend. Check the local home builders association for recommendations. Ask a contractor for current references, while researching the company’s website(s) and customer review websites.

6. Discuss the Project With a Few Companies

Every contractor has a different approach to how to get the job done. Ask the hard questions, especially if they appear to downplay or underestimate the job:

  • How much of the work will be done by your in-house crew?
  • How much will be done by sub-trades?
  • May I see your sub-trades’ licenses? (Plumbers, electricians, etc.)
  • Do you have WCB coverage?
  • Will you show me your liability insurance?
  • Will you deal with HAZMAT testing and remediation?
  • How will you approach the project’s energy efficiency and waste disposal?
  • What is the warranty on your services?
  • Have you done renovations in this area? May I talk to those customers?

7. Agree on Construction Plans

With the help of the interior designer, and perhaps a professional structural engineer, the contractor should show you complete architectural blueprints for you to approve. Sometimes, the interior designer may show you examples of your finished design through 3D rendering.





8. Agree on Fixtures and Finishes

Interior designers don’t merely do drawings and space planning. They guide you through all your finish choices. Tiles, flooring, plumbing fixtures, lighting, moldings, kitchen cabinets, bathroom vanities and paint colours – all of these can present multiple choices. The interior designer will create a complete plan so all these items come together cohesively. Once you are happy with the design, the designer should ask you to approve each item so it can be ordered and delivered on time.


9. Get it in Writing

Professional general contractors and builders use written contracts. Read over every detail and make edits and additions. It should be a smooth process of communication and understanding, not a battle. Make sure the terms are clear and agreeable to both parties. Once you sign, it’s okay to pay a deposit, as long as it is clear what the funds are for.

10. Hire the One You Like

Most likely, you and your contractor will become friends. He will be in your house often. He will bring his carpenters, tilers, millworkers, plumbers, electricians, drywallers and painters onto the site. You must have confidence that these trades people are reliable. After all, they will tear your home apart and then reassemble it better than it was.

After everything else, go with your gut and HIRE THE ONE YOU LIKE. Another great tip here is to hire the one your mother would choose.

Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Kerr Construction and a clickable link back to this page.

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