Renovating your home can be a huge financial investment. Knowing what to expect before the project gets started will help you better prepare for the process.
Hiring the right contractor can make the difference between your project being a success or a nightmare. Here are some questions you should ask first, to clarify your decision.
1. How experienced are they ?
Everybody deserves a break, but you don’t want your home to be a training ground. It’s a basic question, so don’t be shy about asking how long they’ve been in the industry and how long they’ve run their company.
2. Are they licensed and insured?
Your contractor should be fully insured to cover any accidents that might occur while working on your project. Remember, being licensed does not mean they are insured. General liability insurance protects your home from damage or negligence of the contractor, his employees, and any sub-contractors. Workers’ compensation insurance will also protect you from liability in the event a worker is injured while working on your property. Make sure they verify the insurance is in force.
3. Are they familiar with the current local building codes and permits?
Some general contractors may not be familiar with your area and the codes related to those specific homes. While not a deal-breaker, it helps if your contractor is familiar with these.
4. Are they comfortable providing you with a list of past clients?
A credible general contractor should have no problem providing multiple references.
5. What is a realistic timeline and schedule for this project?
Ask them to be as specific as possible, within reason. While unexpected problems might arise, an experienced contractor should be able to give you a realistic timeline for completion of the project. Remember, renovations always take longer than planned.
6. What is their current capacity?
You probably want them to be a little busy, otherwise, you may begin to question why you are the only one hiring them. On the other hand, if they have too many jobs going on for the size of the company they have, they may be spreading themselves thin, and this could impact the performance on your job site.
7. Who will acquire building permits and purchase the materials?
In a perfect world, you would have your contractor do this to ensure your project runs smooth, and in compliance with regulations. Most contractors get discounts on materials, and often pass these savings on. But you still need to clarify who is responsible for what.
8. What if they find something unexpected?
It is quite common to find something you didn’t plan for in the course of a home renovation project. Walls can hide a lot of problems and regardless of how good or accurate a contractor is, they are not magicians and cannot see through walls. Know who is responsible and for what.
9. What is their after service support?
Does the Contractor have checklists to go over together before you sign off. Is there a process for resolving items you feel are not up to standard.
10. Do they provide contracts?
The answer here should be a resounding yes. A true professional always work with a proper, written contract. This protects both of you and is just common sense. A written contract should include:
- A full description of work, including timelines, materials and products.
- A clear payment schedule.
- What lien holdbacks are required.
- The contractor’s warranty detailing what is covered and the duration.
- Confirmation that the contractor has business liability coverage for your project, and that required Workers’ Compensation coverage is in place.
It won’t take long to ask your prospective contractor these questions, but by doing so, you’ll ensure that you are setting yourself up for home improvement success.
About Square One Insurance Services
Established in 2011 and based in Vancouver, Square One offers the only home insurance policy in Canada that can be personalized to your unique needs.
That means you only pay for the protection you need. Square One is also one of the few providers to automatically include earthquake, sewer backup, and broad water protection in its policies. Square One currently serves British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Ontario. For more information about Square One, or to get an online quote, visit squareoneinsurance.ca.