When looking for a contractor, looks can be deceiving so it is important to do your research.
Veteran contractors Manny and Anderson at Hardcore Renos always tell their clients that you wouldn’t say “I DO” on a first date so don’t do it with a contractor. Even if it is a referral, make sure you do a thorough background check. How many times have your friends said ”I know just the right person for you”?
Hardcore Renos recommends that you consider these 10 points before you take the plunge with a contractor:
The Dating period:
The contractor you choose will effectively become a major part of your life for the duration of the renovation, so take the time to do the research. Meet with multiple contractors and go see their work. Remember that your contractor has a family too. Soccer practice, date night and other events mean they will have other obligations. If you expect them to work on your home all day, every day, you will be disappointed. Follow your gut, if you get that sense that something isn’t quite right, you may not be ready to commit.
Pre-reno agreement: Before any work begins on your home, you should have a contract or agreement in place outlining the work involved and the estimated costs. It should also spell out responsibilities and the expectations for the finished project as well as potential unforeseen variables.
Plan together: It is a mis-belief to think that the build will take the most time. Your contractor should spend more time planning than building. So before any work begins on your home, make sure there plan that is agreed between you and your contractor.
Picking up the permits: Research whether you need building permits as you will likely need one. You even need a permit to do demolition. Always expect permits to take longer than anticipated. Some contractors will handle the permit paperwork while others will leave that to you.
Budget: Your contractor should provide a detailed estimate of the renovation, with a clear payment schedule. Payments should be made according to the work completed, rather than particular dates. It should also include a detailed breakdown of expected finish material and installation. If you agree to install a simple light fixture and then purchase one with more than 200 pieces of crystal, you can’t expect your contractor to do it for the same amount.
Expect a rainy day: Even with the best planning, any renovation will hit unexpected twists and turns. Your contractor should be able to tell you about the changes and clearly communicate your options, even when all the choices mean more money. And there should be a little wiggle room. There might be some issues that will cost $100 while others might be more pricey. If you are going to get nervous about every overage, you probably need to re-do your budget.
Agree on a schedule: A renovation will take longer than expected but make sure you agree upon a basic timeline.
Communication: Handing over the keys to your largest investment will probably involve some stress. Make sure you are comfortable talking with your contractor before you start, and that he or she takes the time to answer your questions. You will need to communicate with each other throughout the build. Social media might be able to help. If your contractor is posting photos of progress on Twitter, you will know exactly what’s happening.
Listen: As the build starts, your contractor may have suggestions or changes based on what is found. So your plans may have a certain layout but if you find your floor joists go the other way, be willing to discuss other options or additional costs. And don’t be afraid to take advantage of uncovered useable space for a few extra dollars such as a built-in cupboard or shoe drawer.
The inevitable break-up: While many marriages last, your relationship with your contractor will eventually end. Make sure the parting is amicable, because you never know: after some time, you may start feeling that you would like a little more work done.
Hardcore Renos is a renovation show built like no other. Intrepid renovators and high school friends Manny Neves and Anderson Hinds embark on renos that will not only amaze you but also inspire. For updates on their current project – an entirely new re-build of a home in Toronto – visit www.hardcorerenos.com as well as on Twitter at @hardcorerenos, Facebook and the show’s YouTube channel.
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