Finally fixing up that disgusting bathroom? Updating that 1990’s (1970’s!) kitchen? Landscaping your backyard? Whatever home renovation project you’ve picked, you’re now asking yourself, who’s going to do the work?
Finding the right contractor is the next step, and your decision on who you hire will make or break the success of the project, and may seriously impact your budget and peace of mind for many years to come.
When it comes to choosing a contractor, studies show there are five main places people start their search:
All of these sources have their pros and cons, but regardless of how you find them, every contractor has to be thoroughly checked out - in the reno business, it’s called vetting.
Vetting Prospective Contractors
Neither a half page ad nor a recommendation from your brother-in-law is enough to ensure you’ll have a good experience. And pretty much every contractor who comes to your door will assure you that they’ve done this 100 times before and that “you have nothing to worry about.” Uh huh.
Always ask for at least 3 references. Call the references, ask lots of questions. Were they on time? On budget? Did they clean up after themselves? Did they communicate throughout? Don’t forget to ask about the specific work they did...just because a guy did a good job on their landscaping doesn’t mean he knows anything about tiling your shower.
Getting Multiple Quotes
Once you’ve narrowed your choices to THREE excellent contractors, get a quote from each of them (don’t waste your time getting quotes from someone you wouldn’t hire). Make sure every quote includes what work the contractor will do (the scope), and how much it will cost. You need to compare apples to apples...are all the contractors quoting for the same scope of work? Are they using the same materials?
Evaluate the quotes based on price, scope of work, and materials used. If it’s important to you, you may also want to get them to give you a timeline of when they can start and about how long it will take.
Accepting a Quote and Signing a Contract
Now, it’s time to sign the contract and agree upon a time frame for the work to be done.
Make sure the contract includes:
Booking and Managing Your Project
Get a schedule - What work will be done when? How long will it take? Are there any payments due at certain milestones?
Plan for delays - even the best contractors run into delays, unexpected repairs uncovered in demolition, or late material deliveries. Delays may cost additional time and money, budget an extra 10% time and money.
Note: In most jurisdictions, any changes to the contract (change of scope, price, time, etc) require customer approval before work can continue.
Stay in contact with your contractor - communication is key to a smooth renovation project. Talking with the contractor throughout the process will help you stay up to date on delays, and track the progress of your project.
Obviously, most problems occur after a job has started, but before it’s complete (duh), but a lot can happen in that time. As the Customer, you have to be reasonable (unforeseen stuff happens), but firm (don’t get taken advantage of or bullied).
Does this Sound Like a Lot of Work?
Finding and vetting a contractor, and managing your renovation project can feel like a lot of work and there is a simple explanation for this: IT IS A LOT OF WORK.
One thing that is usually much, much MORE work, however, is not properly vetting your contractor. Wasted time, wasted money, and, perhaps worst of all, that knot in your stomach everytime you look at that reno you were once so excited about, and which now only makes you angry and brings you pain.
So, the best advice I can give you: don’t shortcut the process. Take the time to vet. Get everything in writing. And, stay on top of it. Stick to these things, and you should have a great renovation experience.
It’s Too Much Work to Do All That!
Some people say they don’t have the time/interest/knowledge to do everything I’ve suggested! If this describes you, you may be wondering if you just have to hire the first guy and take your chances?
In days gone by, it was either that or not get the work done at all. So, homeowners often left jobs undone, or else they’d hire the first guy who showed up and usually get burned. The good news is that’s all changed. Now, there’s an app for that...
The new Omnee app easily takes you from start to finish on any home renovation or repair job. If you haven’t heard about it, when it comes to home renovations (or maintenance and repairs) it’s a lifesaver!
Omnee vets all contractors and chooses up to 3 that fit well with your preferences. . Our vetting process is robust. It’s based on their past performance in 23 different categories - including communication, quality of work, and much, much more. All contractors are given an OmneeScore, so you can easily compare them with their competitors.
From your phone, simply add a job to your Orange List (your to-do list of the future) with a couple photos and a description, and we’ll find you up to 3 excellent contractors to send you a competitive quote. When you accept one, a contract will automatically be generated and you will be notified when the contractor is on their way. You’ll also receive notifications of their progress each step along the way until the job is done to your satisfaction. If you have any questions before, during, or after the job is completed, you can always contact them right in the app!
Considering the Omnee app is free to use, it really is a no-brainer for most people. Check it out at omnee.ca.
Remember, it’s your home...You’re the BOSS!