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Ask the right renovation questions

Ask the Right Questions about your Renovation

Raise your comfort level and make an informed decision when selecting a contractor

With the growth in popularity of the home renovation market, I'm very happy to see that today's consumer is much better educated and involved with their projects. Great work has been done by groups such as the Manitoba Home Builders Association to provide education and the popularity of today's TV shows have all led to a much more knowledgeable consumer.

Because of this awareness, now when I go to client meetings I'm asked questions that I've never been asked before. But, there's still a long way to go to make sure you know who you are bringing into your home and what they bring to the table.

The basic questions being asked, and that should be asked, are the ones like, do you have references? Do you have liability insurance? Are you current and in good standing with the WCB? Are you familiar with this type of project and do you feel comfortable doing it? Not only should these questions be asked and answered, but you should also require proof. Any legitimate renovation contractor should be more than happy to provide you this information. You should also confirm if the contractor has the ability and is willing to (at no additional cost to you) name you specifically on their liability insurance as an 'Additionally Named Insured.'

Once these questions are satisfied, it should get the contractor onto your list of qualified candidates. However, this is not yet enough information for you to make a completely informed decision as to who to award your project to. Once you have your list of potential contractors, the following questions should now be asked:

  1. How many projects will you have going on while mine is underway?
  2. Will I have an assigned project manager to deal with issues and concerns?
  3. How long will my project take?
  4. Will I receive a copy of the contract you plan to use?
  5. Do the people coming into my home work for you or do you subcontract the work out?
  6. How do you handle changes in the work? What labor rates and markup should I expect in that event?
  7. How much of a deposit am I expected to put down and how frequently will I be billed?
  8. Do you have a safety program?
  9. In the event of a design build project, does the designer work for you or are they an independent contractor? How available will the designer be throughout the project and will there be any costs involved?
  10. What type of documentation package will I have prior to proceeding with you?
  11. Do you provide maintenance or operation manuals when the project is completed?
  12. What is your warranty policy? What does it cover and for how long?

Good, solid and readily available answers to these more in-depth questions should raise your comfort level and allow you to make an informed decision on who to let into your house and perform, with minimal issues, what will likely be the biggest investment you will make in your home.

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