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How to Choose a Company to Renovate Your Home

Whether you’re updating your kitchen, remodelling your bathroom or finishing your basement, here are seven things to consider when meeting with a potential contractor

Three people are standing in a kitchen. Two people, a man in a long-sleeved dark blue shirt while the woman is wearing a navy, pink and beige plaid shirt that is unbuttoned with a beige shirt underneath. Facing them is a man in a purple button up shirt that is not buttoned, with a burgundy V-neck underneath. Is is holding out his phone for them to look at something on the screen, which the couple is smiling at. On the marble countertop are papers and notebooks spread out.

Beyond a contractor’s technical background, you should be comfortable with the people and company renovating your beautiful home. Here are seven ways to find the contractor that’s right for you.

1. Review the company

Browse any potential contractors’ websites and social media platforms for information on how they do business. Look at online customer reviews about the company and its projects, too.

A contractor’s business background provides insight on the individuals who may be managing your project, says Matthew Brooks, operations lead and partner at Toronto’s South Park Project Management Inc.

“You want to make sure that whomever you entrust with something as important as your home is a professional and experienced person,” says Giovanna Helmer of Toronto-based CCS Construction Group Inc.

“Hiring a contractor who doesn’t have the necessary expertise can cause delays to the project timeline and higher than expected costs, as well as technical deficiencies in the execution,” Helmer says.

2. Check references

Speak to someone who has worked with the company and find out if there were any concerns.

“You want to make sure the contractor has experience with projects like yours and is able to deliver it in a timely and professional way,” Helmer says. “References are a good way to check that.”

3. Ask about their expertise

Contractors specialize in certain areas and have different styles. Some practice modern, contemporary designs while others are best at traditional or heritage styles.

Brooks and Eric Adelman, president of South Park, always invite clients to look at their online portfolio for projects that are similar in scale or scope.

“It’s important to see that a contractor can produce a high-quality end product and has valid experience with similar-sized projects,” Brooks says.

He encourages prospective clients to visit an active site to get a sense of how the company functions, too.

4. Talk about logistics

Ask if the contractor uses their own staff or subcontractors and if they include design services or work with independent designers.

Find out if they will look after any necessary building and construction permits, too.

But be flexible with scheduling. Construction projects never unfold in a straight line, so be prepared for unexpected scenarios.

The contractor may also make recommendations and ideas based on their expertise and experience.

5. Ensure you’re protected

Liability insurance protects you, the builder and the subcontractors.

Consider getting builder’s risk insurance, which covers things like damage, vandalism and theft during construction.

6. Request a written contract

A contract sets out the description of the work, number of workers, materials, costs, dates and how changes will be handled.

If something goes wrong, the contract can be used by you—or the company—in a legal dispute.

7. Trust your instincts

If you feel that you can’t communicate with the contractor, don’t feel embarrassed to walk away and choose someone else, Helmer says.

Taking on a renovation, regardless of the scale or scope, is a significant undertaking. Select a contractor whose style matches your own and one whom you can communicate with comfortably.

Review your policy

After a major renovation, it’s a good idea to review your home insurance policy to ensure you have the proper coverage. Speak with a licensed CAA Insurance Agent—even if you’re with another provider—by visiting CAA Home Insurance.

Image credit: kate_sept2004/iStock