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How to find a Contractor

Finding the Right Contractor for Your Renovation Project

Home renovations are usually handled by general contractors. A general contractor is someone who signs a contract with you and takes full responsibility for the project for a certain price. He will purchase the required material, hire tradespeople and assign subcontractors to different tasks. He will handle all aspects of your home renovation project and will be your point of contact, as opposed to the handymen and craftsmen working on your property.

Choosing the right contractor is the most vital factor in the success of your renovation project. Find someone with whom you feel comfortable and communicate well, even if he might not be offering the lowest price. Hiring a contractor only based on the price, will result in extra expenses further down the road. Since they are probably cutting costs by using low quality material or hiring the wrong craftsmen, thus delivering a less than desirable outcome. Moreover, expect the good contractors to be too busy to start your project right away, since the best contractors are always the busiest ones.

If you are looking to renovate your home or office in the near future, we have put together a list that can help you choose the right contactor for your project. Because a nice looking ad is no proof that a contractor will deliver quality craftsmanship in time.

1. Ask Your Friends and Family for Referrals

Your first order of business would be to ask those around you who have improvement work done in the past, because a first-hand referral is the best place to start.

2. Consider the Right Contractor for Each Project

Different contractors have different specialties. Someone who did a good job installing doors for your friend’s house, is not necessarily the best choice for doing a full plumbing and bathroom renovation in your home. You want to find a company that is experienced in the kind of renovation project you want done.

3. Do Your On-line Research, But Be Smart About It

Basically you need to find out how many years a contractor has been in this business, if they maintain permanent contact information, if they have an established presence in the community and if they have a good reputation among customers.

Thanks to the magic of technology, nowadays the world-wide-web can help you find information about everything. But be wary of false information. Always keep in mind that reviews can be fake and testimonials can be falsified. Unfortunately, posting fake reviews from multiple accounts is a big on-line business these days, presenting a challenge for honest businesses.

4. Know What You Want Before Asking for Quotes

First think about what you would like to be done, then contact the contractor. Maybe plan something ahead or have some ideas about the details of your renovation project. If you can be specific about your requirements and the material you want to be used, you will get a more accurate estimate when asking for a quote. 

5. Look at Their Previous Work

It is important to assess your contractor directly, even if you trust their referrals and reviews. Ask him for work samples from their previous projects that are similar to yours. This way you can assess the quality of their craftsmanship and the creativity of their design.

6. Check Their Credentials

Make sure the contractor possesses all the required licenses from state and local municipalities, because doing business with a licensed contractor gives you financial guarantee in the event of a dispute. Keep in mind that different licenses, cover different tasks and specialties. So, make sure that the contractor is actually licensed to do what you expect from him.

For renovations in Quebec, you can open the RBQ website (this page) and also the CMMTQ website (this page) to find out if a contractor is licensed, and more importantly, areas of work that are covered by his license. Below, you can see the information about Total Réno-Tech Inc. on both of these websites:

7. Check Their References

Talk to previous clients and If possible current clients of the contractor, to learn about their experiences regarding working with the contractor. Try talking to the subcontractors as well and make sure they are paid on-time.

8. Check Their Financial Status

It is very important that a contractor will be around after your project is completed. By checking their financial references, you can make sure that the contractor has financial stability. You can also ask for a copy of the company’s insurance policy to know what is covered and what is not.

9. Check Their Commitment to Budget and Schedule

Find out about the contractor’s track record regarding their adherence to budget and schedule. If a contractor offers you an unrealistically low price at the beginning, you should expect ending up spending way more than you expected to get what you had in mind. And if he can’t commit to the schedule, you will fall into a lengthy never-ending renovation, and as you know, time is money.

10. Review the Contract

Last but not least, it is a good idea to ask the contractor to provide you with a copy of their standard written contract which you can review before actually doing business with them.

In the next article we will be talking about all the details that should be included in the contact. Stay tuned.

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