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Go Forth and Renovate: Tips for hiring the right contractor

The home renovation experts at HomeStars are here to help by sharing some tips to help you in the decision-making process.

Step one: Narrow down your options

Do your research, start online and make sure to check the reviews. That’s where a site like Homestars.com comes in handy. There are thousands of reviews that you can check out as you develop your shortlist. From there, talk to your network—friends, neighbours, and family—and see if they’re familiar with your top choices.

Step two: Strategic interviewing

When meeting prospective contractors, it can be challenging to differentiate which are most capable.

Here are a list of questions and why each is important to ask when looking to make an informed hiring decision.

  • How long have you done business in the area?
    Asking this will help you determine their knowledge of local subcontractors and suppliers necessary for the job. They may also have knowledge of local by-laws, which can vary by municipality.
  • Do you have professional designations or associations?
    A contractor who is a licensed professional and/or belongs to a professional organization will usually have better references and higher integrity.
  • Do you have contractor insurance?
    Contractors should have three types of insurance: personal liability, property damage coverage and worker’s compensation. Ask for copies of insurance certificates, and make sure they’re current, or you could be held liable for any injuries and damages that could occur on your property during the project.
  • How will you communicate with me?
    Regular communication throughout the renovation will ensure you are up-to-date on both timing and budget (you don’t want to be surprised with an unexpected expense). Make sure you understand how you will receive information, whether it’s through text messages, phone calls or email.
  • Will you be using subcontractors on this project?
    You want to ensure you are covered from an insurance perspective, so make sure to get their names, contact information and licenses.
  • Does this work require a permit?
    Many regions require permits for building projects, even for simple jobs like decks. A competent contractor will get all the necessary permits before starting work on your project. You should choose a contractor familiar with the permitting process in your county, city or town.
  • Can you provide me with itemized pricing?
    If the project costs for labour and material expenses are broken down, this will make it easier to compare quotes from each contractor.
  • Can you provide recent customer references?
    A reputable contractor should be able to share at least three clients with similar projects. Also consider visiting a current worksite to get a behind-the-scenes look at the quality of their work and how they manage the ongoing upkeep of the work site.

Whether you live in a house or condominium, your home is your most valuable asset so it’s important to protect your investment. Following these steps can help you better safeguard against a renovation gone wrong.

A note to Condo owners: Before making any renovations, be sure to check with your property manager to ensure your desired changes are allowed within the unit. If approved, ask for a status certificate so you have written proof of your compliance to the rules and regulations in your unit before moving forward. Unauthorized work can result in the homeowner paying to revert the condo back to its previous state.