Home renovations: Do it right, get it in writing!

If you’re considering a renovation – perhaps of your existing home to prepare to list it for sale, or a minor tweak to a new home – there are ways to do it right.

We’ve all heard stories about renovations gone bad – or worse, renos turned nightmares.

What can you do to protect yourself and ensure a successful project?

The best renovations follow a three-step process:

Step 1: Get informed

Step 2: Hire a professional

Step 3: Most importantly, get it in writing!

There are lots of resources out there, and sometimes it’s tough to know who to trust, or how to make your project successful.

Most homeowners focus on the obvious: how do I want the end product to look and feel, and how much will it cost me? But there is so much more to it than that.

Other important considerations:

  • What building codes apply and do I need a permit? Local building departments can certainly help you understand this, and it is important that if a building permit is required, you or your contractor obtain one. Not only does this ensure the project meets the codes required for your safety, you may be required to provide the information should you resell your home, or should something go wrong and you need to deal with your insurance company.
  • Insurance should be provided by your contractor for the work they are doing. Contact your own insurance company to see what impacts there may be should something happen to a worker while on your project, or should something go wrong or be damaged in the process.
  • Workers’ Compensation: Discuss these issues with the professional you hire to ensure that any worker who may be hurt on your project is properly covered, so this responsibility does not fall to you.
  • Liens: These are in place to ensure that suppliers are paid by the contractor. You should understand how you are impacted by these rules.
  • Warranties: What happens after the contractor has left? What warranty has he provided?

All of this leads to an important question: Who will you hire? Many people focus on getting several quotes, and going with the lowest bid. Price is an important part of the process, but make sure you are comparing apples to apples. And the reality is, you need to ensure that who you are working with is legit, and that they can discuss all these items with you.

Like in marriage, communication is key. Not only should you pick a contractor you get along with and who shares your vision, make sure you get your quote in writing.

A contract is key. Be sure it includes:

  • A full description of work, including products and materials to be used
  • Start and end dates
  • A clear payment schedule
  • The contractor’s warranty
  • Confirmation of liability insurance and WSIB coverage

And don’t sign the contract unless you are confident it covers everything you need.


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