Hiring a Contractor

Hiring an experienced and knowledgeable renovator is key to a successful renovation project. You are placing what may be the largest asset you own - your home - in someone else's hands, along with your dreams. You are also inviting someone into your life for days, weeks, sometimes even longer. So you need to find a renovator you can trust and work with.

Ten Reasons for Hiring a Pro - Renovating your home should be a positive experience - free from worry and stress. You should have full confidence in your renovator and know that you are getting the best. That's why you should choose a professional renovator. From start to finish. A professional renovator will help you to put it all together - from ideas to design, products to plans, and construction to completion. Experienced advice. A professional renovator has the experience and knowledge to help turn your ideas into great results. They listen, make suggestions, and look for the best way of doing things. Technical know-how. Professional renovators understand construction, how to deal with challenges and problems, and how to improve the comfort of your home. Expert teamwork. Behind every professional renovator, there is a solid network of staff, subtrades and suppliers ready to go to work for you. A proven track record. Their business is an open book. You are invited to talk with past customers, look at their previous…

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What is a Professional Renovator - Hiring a professional renovator is your best assurance that you will get the results you want and the best value for your money. A professional renovator is a general contractor, sometimes referred to as a renovation contractor, who can put your whole project together. The renovator will assume complete responsibility for the work contracted and give you a warranty once it's completed. A professional renovator has an extensive business network of suppliers, trades, installers and experts that they draw on as required for your project. A professional renovator understands the technical aspects of construction in detail and knows how houses work. They can assess your project and explain what is involved, as well as identify potential problems and provide solutions. If your project requires design services, your contractor can advise you on the most suitable approach and recommend a design professional. Design-build renovators offer both design and construction services, and you may hire…

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Finding a Renovator - Finding the right contractor for your renovation project is key to getting the results you want. The sooner you get someone involved, the more you can benefit from their knowledge and expertise. With a little legwork, you should have no trouble finding the person who is best suited for your project. Get the names of renovator members of the Greater Windsor Home Builders' Association Membership in an industry organization is a solid indication of professionalism. Association members have access to training and the latest information on all aspects of renovation, and they agree to the Association's Code of Ethics, which sets out a framework for fair and honest business practices. Ask friends, family, co-workers and neighbours for recommendations Also look around your neighbourhood for renovation projects underway and talk with the homeowners. Most people enjoy sharing their renovation experiences. Visit home shows This is a perfect opportunity to meet the professional renovators…

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What to Look for in a Renovator - As you collect names of suitable renovators, you need to think about how you will judge the renovators you choose to interview. Presentation Professional renovators operate in a business-like manner. They respect your schedule and show up for appointments on time. They present themselves well, are organized and deal with your questions and concerns directly. They earn your confidence because they follow through on promises - if they say they will call you back tomorrow, they do. How a renovator deals with you before a contract is signed tells you a lot about how you can expect to be treated once the job begins. Communication Renovation is a "people business" and good renovators are good listeners and communicators. Professional renovators must "translate" your ideas and goals into a workable plan and a pleasant experience. This requires a solid working relationship and good rapport. If you're not comfortable with renovators you interview or don't feel you can…

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Interviewing Renovators - Once you have a list of renovators, your next step is to meet them and discuss your project. These initial interviews will help you determine who is qualified to handle your project, and what each can offer in terms of ideas, suggestions and guidance in developing your plans. Initial interviews provide the opportunity to get to know renovators - their background, experience, business stability and trustworthiness. Take your time and ask lots of questions. Don't be afraid you will offend potential candidates. Professional renovators welcome the opportunity to tell you about their experience and services. Many homeowners wonder how many renovators they should interview before deciding who to hire. While there is no simple answer, normally three should be adequate. If you can't establish a comfortable rapport with a renovator, or if you feel your questions are not answered properly, then you should talk to someone else. On the other hand, if you find someone who you have a high level…

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Checking References - In order to select the best renovator for your project, you need the right information. A renovation contractor's past customers are probably the most reliable source of information available to you. Each renovator you interview should be able to provide references from previous customers. Ideally, these past projects should be similar in scope and scale to yours. Once you have the list, make the calls. Surprisingly, many people who ask for references never actually follow through and check them. This is a mistake. Don't feel you are imposing. If the homeowners were not willing to be contacted, they would not allow the renovator to give you're their names. * Download Worksheet "G" and use in conversations with previous customers to record their answers.

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Getting Bids - Price is a critical aspect of your renovation project. What will it cost to do the job you want? Alternatively, how far can you go on a set budget? Determining the cost of a small project is usually fairly simple. On larger projects, it often happens as a series of discussions between you and a renovator as you develop the vision and fine-tune the plans for your home. On some projects, it may be a good idea to hire someone to develop the design and the plans first as a separate job. Many renovators offer a full range of services, including design and plans development. Alternatively, you may choose to work with a designer or architect and then tender the actual work to renovators. "Guesstimates" Experienced renovators can sometimes offer an educated opinion or price range on the spot, based on similar jobs they have done in the past - for instance, a per-square-foot estimate for additions or basement recreation rooms, or a rough cost estimate for upgrading your bathroom. This…

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Deciding Who to Hire - Once you have interviewed renovators, checked their references and received written price quotes from those you are interested in hiring, it's time to decide who will be doing your job. Renovators should be allowed adequate time to prepare a bid for your project, and you must ensure that each renovator is working with the same plans and specifications. For all but the simplest projects, you should expect the renovator to present their bid in person, so that they can discuss each aspect with you and answer any question you may have. Once you have met with the renovators who are bidding on your job, you should review each set of bid documents carefully before deciding who to hire. Compare every aspect of their bids - the description of the work, specifications (materials and products), price and allowances, deposit and payment milestones, project schedule and any additional recommendations or ideas for your project. Review the information you collected during and after your initial round…

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I Want to Do the Work Myself - For many homeowners, do-it-yourself home renovation and repair projects are a source of considerable enjoyment and pride. The best advice we can offer is to consider your own skills and abilities carefully when planning your projects. Getting in "over your head" can end up costing more money than hiring professional help in the first place. Do you have any knowledge of building codes and good building practices which is essential for many projects? Do you have the time to research, plan and do the work properly? If required, do you know trade contractors and subtrades that will do a good job on your home? And will you be able to schedule their work without overlaps or lengthy delays? If you act as your own contractor and hire someone to work for you, do you know how to protect yourself against liabilities in case of accidents or mistakes? Or against damage to your home in the course of the work? Do you have the proper tools to do a good and attractive job? If your primary reason…

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