We’ve all heard stories of renovations gone badly. Reno time can be both overwhelming and confusing, however finding the right contractor can make all the difference.
According to reviews on HomeStars, the most popular categories for home improvement in Vancouver are roofing, home inspection, window and door installation and service, paint and wallpaper contractors and moving and storage – a clear indicator of the hot real estate market on the west coast.
Whether you live in a house or a condo, this site’s home renovation experts help homeowners via sharing tips to guide you through the hiring process, whether prepping a home for sale or acquiring a new abode.
Here’s a couple of first steps followed by several important questions you should consider asking when looking to hire a professional contractor.
Step One: Narrowing options
Begin your research online; be sure to check out Homestars.com where you’ll find thousands of reviews to read as you develop a shortlist. From there, talk to your network – friends, neighbours, family – and see if they’re familiar with your top choices.
Step Two: Strategic interviewing
Meeting prospective contractors can pose a challenge to find the most capable person for the job.
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; make sure they’re current, otherwise you could be held liable for any injuries and damages occurring on your property during the project.
How will you communicate with me?
Regular communication throughout the renovation will ensure you’re kept in the loop with 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?
To guarantee you’re covered from an insurance perspective, make it a priority to get 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 district.
Can you provide me with itemized pricing?
When project costs for labour and material expenses are broken down, comparing quotes from each contractor simplifies the process.
Can you provide recent customer references?
A reputable contractor should be able to share at least three clients with similar projects. In addition, 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.
A note to condo owners
Before making any renovations, be sure to check with your property manager to ensure 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.
This post produced in partnership with HomeStars. Images courtesy of HomeStars.