Choosing a Contractor: Key Indicators for a Reliable Renovation
Posted on January 12th, 2015

Thinking about renovating an area of your house, and hiring a contractor to perform the work?  There are certain things that you should do to cover liability and ensure your project runs as efficiently as possible.  These 5 steps will help to ensure you hire the right contractor, and have quality work performed in your home.

1: Look at a portfolio, ask for references
Would you buy a car without looking at it or taking it for a test drive?  The same logic should apply to hiring a contractor.  Unfortunately you can’t visit their previous job sites, but a reputable contractor will have photos and references, likely on their website.  Look at the details in the images and you should be able to tell if the contractor has an eye for detail, or rushes to complete a job without any interest in quality.

2:  Review the paperwork
Although it will be an added expense to your project, WSIB, liability insurance and building permits protect you during a renovation.  The WSIB premium rate for home renovators is 9.1% on all wages paid.  Building permits will range from $60 up, and liability insurance will cost your contractor approximately $40 per week.  This small addition to the overall price for the job will be more than worth the protection it provides.  Read our post about working for cash and the underground economy for more information.

3:  Know your budget
When your renovator knows how much you’ve budgeted for your project, they can provide options of which materials fit your budget.  Will your budget allow for porcelain tile, or does your it limit you to ceramic?  Will you have extra money to install in-floor heating in your bathroom, or do you have to compromise on your faucet selection to allow for granite countertops?  A good contractor and project manager will discuss your project during a site visit, and cater your quote to what you can afford.

4:  Hire a manager
Efficiency will make the best use of your budget, and a good manager will make your project as efficient as possible.  This doesn’t mean that there has to be a separate project manager, but make sure that someone involved in the project displays management skills, especially communication and time management.  The project manager will assist you in creative decisions and provide a wealth of knowledge on products and procedures. 

5:  Sign a contract
Along with the WSIB, insurance and building permits, a contract will outline timelines, financial draws, major project components, and any other details that are agreed upon.  This ensures the homeowner and the contractor are on the same page, and provides documentation to outline expectations and promises made.  All transactions should also be recorded, providing you with a receipt for every deposit made.  

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