How to Select the Right Contractor

Cash Deal Contractor

The process of building a new home is quite straightforward when compared to the renovation process. The complexities of a major renovation require a vast amount of knowledge and experience. Tying in old with new structure, sometimes completely restructuring, old building codes and new codes, making roof lines work to not look like a renovation, a myriad of issues that can arise once the walls are opened up, all the while trying to pull this off with some clients who wish to remain living in the home and watching the process. No easy challenge. So how do you, the client, know who to select and trust to pull this off.

There used to be an old rule of thumb to do preliminary inquiries, which was, go by the size of the contractor's ads. Small ad likely geared for smaller projects and large ads meant they are more substantial and involved in larger projects. There are flaws to this suggestion but it does have some common sense to it. You shouldn't be calling some of the larger firms to do a simple add of a two-piece bathroom in your basement and alternatively stay away from one or two man shows if you're planning a major home renovation. Not that there's anything wrong with smaller contractors. They do have their strengths and some are very good but likely not set up to undertake large projects.

As I deal for the most part in larger scale renovations, here are some of the key things to look for when selecting your contractor. Are they simply a management company and just sub out the whole project? 40 years of experience has told me this business model does not work well in residential renovations so look for a company that has its own skilled tradesman and great subcontractor relationships for the specialty work (like plumbing and electrical).

Do they belong to any local industry organizations, such as the Manitoba Home Builders' Association? Members go through a screening process and are more likely to be invested in the long term success of their business. I would stay away from online referral organizations no matter who has celebrity endorsed them as they are usually just pay to join referral services that anyone with the money can join.

Do they have a successful history with projects similar to yours and are they willing and able to enlighten you on what you may expect during the process? Do they have a website that shows samples of their work with written references? Have they ever won recognition for their work, all which again indicates a strong investment into the success of the contractor?

Obvious other strong indicators would be if they provide a detailed budget or estimate and full written contract. Do they have a formal change order process, are they covered by liability insurance and how much, are they current with WCB and do they provide warranty? When you meet with them, do you feel that they are going to hear what you say and understand it and that you will have a good working relationship with them (for what could be the next year).

None of the above alone indicates a deciding choice, but the more boxes you can tick off is a solid indicator that you are on the right road.

HOME DÉCOR AND RENOVATIONS
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