HOW TO FIND A CONTRACTOR
For many homeowners, the hardest of a renovation isn't the work itself but finding a reliable and competent contractor to do the work. We all probably know someone who had some sort of bad experience with a contractor and wont ever stop telling you about the story. To make sure that doesn't happen to you, there are some key practices you can follow to get the best contractor for your renovation.
Before you even start talking to contractors, you need to first know what you want to achieve and what you're going to need to get there. This will make it easier to know whether or not a contractor can accomplish what you want done and makes communication with them much easier.
Once you know what you want, you can start asking around through friends and neighbors. If you have noticed that they had work done on their property recently, you can ask how they got it done. You can even ask local hardware stores to see if they can get you referrals to contractors.
After getting a few referrals, you should ask for written proposals and get estimates from each. This means interviewing at least 5 contractors. You can compare and contrast bids between other contractors to give you a general estimate of costs. It's really up to you to educate yourself on the renovating process because the decisions you make will ultimately depend on what you know.
Also you need to understand what the availability of your contractors are as well. This will depend on where you live and what time of year it is but most contractors are consistently getting work meaning you are probably going to have to get in the queue.
You also want to get a sense if subcontractors will be needed and if so what work will they do. This can give you a bit of insight into what to expect from the process such as how many people will be involved and how much they will cost. This also tells you where people will be working and what impact that will have on your living space, as an example, say your contractor needed to bring in an electrician as a subcontractor who is going to rewire the electrical system. This lets you know that whenever they are working, you are probably not going to be able to access power meaning loss of lighting and your Wi-Fi.
You must make sure that the contractor you use is the best for your project. Just because a contractor did a great job on your neighbors tiling, doesn't mean they would be great for redoing a kitchen. You need to find a contractor that has worked specifically on the type of project you are looking to get done.
Also remember to check licenses before you sign any contract. Most contractors should have a license through their province or state. Check out what your province says about licenses and you can even ask your contractor for a copy of their license.
You can also check with previous clients or subcontractors to find out how well contractors kept to the budget or got work done on time. This will inform you on if they pay on time or can accurately estimate costs. You can even read online reviews from sites such as Home Advisor or Angie list.
The next step is to get a detailed contract of everything you want done. This should include everything from deadlines, payments schedules, materials, model numbers and who will provide those materials. Anything that you may want to add on later, make sure you get it down in writing to avoid any confusing down the road.
Make sure you also get the proper permits because nearly all home renovations require them. Some companies may try to tell you that you can save some money by not needing them but this might subject you to fines in the future. Not only that but you might violate local ordinances meaning the city wont inspect it to make sure its up to code. This can also make it difficult to sell your home. Just remember its your contractors job to get permits, not yours.
You also shouldn't be paying more than 10% of the final payment before the job starts. Your contract should have a schedule of how much exactly needs to be paid and when. Some materials may need a deposit up front so make sure that is clearly written out in the contract.
Remember to budget for unexpected cost.
Not matter how well you and your contractor plan, there are always going to be things that pop up, adding more cost to your budget. Expect to spend at least 10% more than what was originally planned.
Negotiate what the ground rules are such as what times they come in the morning and leave in the evening, where they park and what washrooms they use.
Remember to communicate any concerns you have directly with your contractor and not any workers. This keeps information clear and open with trying to play broken telephone with your contractor. If you have any issues with anything that's going, bring it up instead of of waiting until its too late to change anything.
Make sure to check up on your insurance coverage.
Just in case any unforeseen accidents happen or things get broken, its important to understand what would be covered under your homeowners insurance and what would be covered under your contractors business insurance. Get a copy of each.
Also make sure you get lien releases and receipts for the products.
You should get copies of everything, especially receipts before you pay anyone.
Lastly don't make the final payment until everything is 100% complete. Its quite common for contractors to finish the majority of a project and start working on the next project they have.