From Contract to Completion

Once you have decided on the right renovator for your project, you are ready to draw up the renovation contract, get going and see your renovation plans become reality.

The Renovation Contract - Whenever you hire someone to do renovation work on your home - whether the job is small or large - you should get a proper, written contract. A contract defines the agreement between you and the renovator. It ensures that you and your renovator are agreeing to the same thing and outlines the responsibilities of each party. It also gives you legal recourse if the renovation goes off track - it protects you in the event of damage or accidents, or against claims by unpaid subcontractors. The scope and complexity of the contract will vary according to the size of your project, but most contracts will contain the standard information outlined below. If you have any concerns or questions about the contract, discuss them with your professional renovator before you sign. You may also want to ask your lawyer to review it first. Here are some of the points that should be covered in your contract: The parties to the contract (i.e., you and the renovation contractor), including street addresses, telephone…

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Check the Insurance - Insurance is often the last thing on a homeowner's mind when making renovation plans. Yet, before any work begins, you should make sure that you are well covered during and after the renovation, in case of damage, injury or theft. Then you can proceed with confidence. The renovator's business insurance Your renovator should carry commercial general liability insurance, usually with a minimum of $1 million, although they may carry more. This provides coverage in the event of damage to your home or neighbouring properties due to the renovation activity, or bodily injury caused to a third party. Your renovator's insurance protects you - without it you could be liable for damages or injuries. Ask the renovator for proof of liability insurance - a copy of the policy or a certificate of insurance. Take note of the limit and extension of coverage and the date the policy expires. Ask your insurance representative to review it to ensure that between the renovator's insurance and…

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Change Orders - Once work begins on your home, both you and your renovator will have one aim - to get the project done well, on time and on schedule. However, as the work gets going, you may find that you want to make changes to the plans. A visit to suppliers may trigger a desire for a different type of flooring. You may want to enlarge the glass doors to the outside, or change the location of the kitchen sink. Or you may simply want more electrical outlets. Professional renovators will gladly attempt to accommodate any changes or additions you want to make, even as the work is in progress. But before you make any decisions, talk with your renovator. Sometimes even small changes can have a significant impact on cost. It may mean changing some aspect of the construction-for instance, a change in floor coverings may call for a different sub-flooring. Changes can also result in delays. Your renovator works with a tight construction schedule and subtrades who move from one task to another and from one home…

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Living With Renovation....Comfortably - Once your project gets underway, you and your renovator need to work closely together to make sure that everything goes as smoothly as possible. The renovator needs a good working environment so the job can progress without problems or delays. You want as few inconveniences and disruptions to your daily routine as possible. Many of the responsibilities of both the renovator and the homeowner have already been spelled out in the contract. Before the work starts, sit down with your renovator and discuss everyone's expectations and responsibilities in detail. Good communication is key to a good renovation experience and a satisfying result. Before the Work Begins Discuss the renovator's requirements for the work. including access to electricity and water on a regular basis, delivery and storage of building materials, and disposal of wastes. Determine the rules of the house for the work crew. Clarify access to bathroom facilities and eating areas, as well as kitchen privileges, if…

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Final Inspection - Once the work is completed, you and your renovator will conduct an inspection of the work. This is the time to take a close look at everything and note any problems or imperfections, before you make the final payment. Occasionally, there may be items that cannot be completed along with the rest of the renovation. For example, lighting switch plates may be on back-order by the supplier, or a cabinet door may have been sent back to the manufacturer due to a flaw. Any items like this should be written down, along with your renovator's estimate of when they will be finished. If there is seasonal work, such as landscaping, that cannot be completed until warmer weather, the timing and payment schedule for this work should be set out in your contract. Remember to hold back the required amount from the last payment until the terms of the lien holdback provisions in your contract have been met, usually between 30 and 45 days. Maintenance At the same time, ask your renovator about normal maintenance…

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Final Clean-Up - Before leaving your home for the last time, your renovator will do a thorough clean-up of the renovated areas of your home and any other affected areas. All tools, equipment and construction wastes will be removed. Areas will be swept, vacuumed or raked as appropriate. It's a good idea to do a general cleaning of your home afterwards. Small amounts of dust may have found their way into corners and cracks, which will affect the quality of the air you breathe. Remember to change your furnace filters at the same time. If the renovation work created a great deal of dust, or took place during the heating season, you may want to have forced-air heating ducts professionally cleaned. If the renovation involved exterior work such as siding or re-roofing, conduct a final scan of the grounds for nails, small metal pieces and other debris. Some renovators use a magnetic device to ensure they pick up as much as possible, but even so, it is very easy to miss a few items.

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