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10 Tips for Hiring a Home Improvement Contractor

The day has come: You are fed up with the old (perhaps ugly or stained) look of your kitchen, or you are tired of a small and outdated bathroom. Perhaps you just decided to expand and finally finish the basement. If you are considering any improvements to your home, you need to be in good hands — that means hiring a licensed, professional contractor.


Why spend the time to find the right builder? — Because the internet has a wealth of “DIY tips” that might convince you that a novice can do a major home renovation. Remember: They’re just tips. You might end up spending more than you imagined to correct mistakes you make.

Whatever look you choose for your reno choose a qualified contractor. Unless you do, you can lose money, time, and the ease and comfort of a finished project.


1. Create a Budget

First, figure out how much you are willing to spend to see desired changes made. Know your maximum budget before talking to potential contractors. Mention it each contractor you consult. Experienced home renovators will explain your options and make recommendations.


A budget will also help your contractor determine a contingency amount for unexpected costs (or jobs you may not have considered, such as:

  • Electrical repair
  • Dumping waste
  • Demolition
  • Hauling

You should also have in mind that price will reflect the quality of work you receive. The lowest bid is not necessarily the best one. It could be a sign of substandard work materials, or the contractor could disappear mid-job. To prevent this nightmare scenario, ask for a written description of the work materials.


2. Get the Contract in Writing

Remember this is a contract, and it is admissible in a court of law. All the details of the contract should be spelled out in writing and signed by you and your contractor.

The contract shows:

  • Total cost of the project
  • Estimated time for project completion
  • Method of payment
  • Project details (area of house, materials to be used)
  • The parties involved
  • Contractor’s legal certification (such as license number)

3. Fund Contingencies

Sometimes contractors fail to deliver what they promised. Establish a clear project time frame. Keep all the documents regarding the project in a safe place. These include payment receipts, invoices, and contracts.


4. Verify Contractor Qualifications

Professional home improvement contractors in Canada are certified offered by trade organizations. Check abbreviations such as local Building Industry Association Membership (BIA), certified aging in place specialist (CAPS), or CGR (certified graduate remodeler).

Ask the contractor for evidence of insurance evidence. If they reject your request, do not engage them or sign a contract. If a worker gets injured while working for you, you can be held liable.


5. Involve Your Insurance Agent

Whatever changes you make to your house will alter the assessed value, which affects your homeowner’s insurance policy. To avoid future problems, make sure your insurance agent is up to date on your plans and progress. You don’t want to lose your policy over lack of planning.


6. Consider Online Reviews

You should be able to go online and find out information about your chosen contractor. This will give you some idea of who you are dealing with. If your contractor does not have online reviews and cannot show you referrals/testimonials, you may wish to look elsewhere.


7. Get the Right Permits

All home projects require a legitimate permit. An unscrupulous contractor could suggest that you can do without one. This is dangerous; the work will be done without inspection and you will be violating the law.


8. Have Ground Rules

You can negotiate with the contractor on some basic rules like the time they work at your home, what washrooms will be used by workers, and so on. Do not pay more than ten percent before job starts; establish a payment plan to ensure your work is completed.

Some good contractors have enough capital to start the project, but if they are dealing with expensive materials, expect occasional payments of up to 30 percent of the total.


9. Stay in Touch

Talk to your contractor frequently; remember that a problem will be harder to fix if ignored. Address any concern as it arises.


10. Don’t Make the Last Payment until Everything is Finished

Do not pay the last installment before you are satisfied with the job. Fly-by-night contractors will run before finishing the project and doing proper cleanup.

Build and Comfort works to make our clients as comfortable as possible during intrusive home renovations. We use both the latest building approaches and techniques that stand the test of time, along with high-quality materials. No job is too big or too small for us; call us now at (03) 9055-4620.



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