Hiring Home Improvement Contractors: Four Notes to Self for Homebuyers

Planning a house renovation involves seeing through a million moving parts at once. While we can’t root out all risks, we attempt to help dismiss some of the missteps if you’re getting your house renovated.

We all know that home renovations don’t come cheap and have ample scope to go wrong. We also know there are enough people in our lives to convince us against pursuing a home renovation.


We cave in to the well-meaning advice of our dear ones all too often without thoroughly evaluating the value of a renovation project. Just as there are horror stories being passed down since renovations became a thing, there are profitable remodels that provide top dollar when you’re ready to put it on sale.

To ensure your finances don’t fall in a pit, you should onboard a home improvement contractor who is qualified to execute the type of remodel you want. Right down to the last specification.

Here, we explore ways to uncover the right contractor.

Creating a Home Improvement Plan

Before you know which contractor will meet your needs, you need to know them well enough yourself.

That calls for building a thorough plan. While many homeowners refer online catalogues to draw from for their house redesign plans, it’s advisable to consult a professional home architect. Experts in house floor plans, architects convert lofty design dreams into realistic construction drawings that you can present to the contractor you’d choose.

In the absence of a construction plan, your contractor may quote you exorbitant prices for works otherwise done for way less. You’re in a weak spot to defend novel ideas that you don’t suspect would cost you a fortune.  With specifics in hand, you can never be nudged into making off-the-bat decisions.

At the same time, construction drawings and plans are preliminary. Their purpose is to narrow down the scope of construction. The construction process will have to be broken down by your contractor, for which pricing may differ depending on your requirements. Here’s a neat guide on surviving a full-scale home renovation.

Given the layout and design specifications, your contractor will formulate a full construction docket including interior and exterior build, structural build, and mechanical build. These specifics come from the initial design consultations had with your architect.

Consider a kitchen remodel. Dubbed one of the most expensive remodelling expenditures, kitchen makeovers can escalate into tens of thousands of dollars if gone unchecked for finishes, textures, and products installed.

Strive to pick your countertops finish, faucet design, cabinetry, flooring, and accessories in advance. Leaving it for the construction stage would open room for unbudgeted expenses made for unnecessary fixtures. Here’s a good source to find home remodelling contractors near you.

Knowing your associated costs and exactly how the building process will come through will prevent altercations, errors, and unexpected outcomes.

Creating Your Home Remodel Budget

A plan without its items priced serves nobody. Usually, the architect you contract for drawings and specifications puts you in touch with qualified builders who can price out your project.

While you await bids from multiple home improvement contractors, you must start shaping your budget. Recognize what’s affordable to steadily maintain your cash flow over the next several months. Consulting a financial planner would save you from under- or over-spending.

With construction jobs budgeted for before the first layer of concrete is poured, contractors will stick to agreed-upon pricing. If you’re opting for a complete home renovation, the costs can add up over time as installations don’t come cheap given that they require licensed professional help.

Homeowners need to factor the type of materials, finishing, and maintenance their chosen installations and fixtures would take—here, anticipated costs are much lower than actuals since homeowners don’t research these individual costs enough before allowing orders to be placed.

Checking Your Home Remodelling Contractor’s Insurance, Permit, License

There’s no dearth of terrible renovation blunders that new ones queue up from avoidable oversights.

One of the first criteria to shortlist contractors is to ensure they’ve got liability coverage. Hazardous incidents are routine in construction, moreover, house renovations can put occupants and visitors at risk. When a mishap occurs, you can file a claim if a contractor failed to enforce a safety protocol.

That being said, you need to work with your contractor to set up enough safety on site. Nothing spells doom than an uncaring owner dismissing their duty to supervise daily work. Verifying that your contractor is qualified to execute your desired renovations is another significant step.

Not checking your contractor’s professional documentation can expose you to costly risks. One of the more pronounced disadvantages being getting a house built that is not up to code. Hefty fines await owners negligent of city regulations and provincial code.

Background Checking Your Home Remodelling Contractor

To quality check your contractor, visit at least three to four customers that contracted with them. Assess the kind of renovations you’re looking for. Is it functional? Does it align with owner expectations? These questions would reveal if you’re in business with the right professional.

Anything that you can get your hands on is one step closer to hiring the right person. The more information you’re armed with, the better positioned you will be when you negotiate prices with the contractor.

The initial bunch of meetings would reveal if the contractor is a good fit in terms of communication and expertise. If it’s your first home renovation, you want a flexible remodelling contractor to work through discrepancies and change orders—pretty inevitable since home owners aren’t always thinking smart—issued throughout the build process.

If you live in a residential building, renovations can be slightly tricky to figure out since they can involve other residents in the process. Working with experienced contractors will skip several missteps—check this post out for the best and the largest construction companies in Canada nailing the game for years.

Being part of the plan, its execution, and following through will ensure you’re not stumped by surprises. Most surprises strike as contingencies that weren’t accounted for earlier. Your contractor may easily forget to price those little items like kitchen accessories or small bedroom furniture. But the price and make of these items can substantially cost you, stalling the project.

Bear in mind that every nook and cranny of your renovation must be nailed down before works kick off. Here’s when adding a contingency fund really pays off. The general rule of thumb is to set aside 10 to 20 per cent of your renovation costs as a contingency fund. Working out extras will depend on the scope and type of remodelling.

Final Thoughts

Saving the best for last, perseverance and level-headed judgement is key to getting the most return on your renovation dollars.

It’s quite possible that the renovations you planned may not pan out. They may not make sense eight weeks down the line since you’re more informed on the real value they’d bring.  The more costs you’re able to optimize, the more you’re saving yourself from getting into debt. One that will never serve you.

A haphazard remodelling project is as bad as hiring a poor quality contractor. Nobody wants that.

Abigail Jones

Hi, I'm Abigail. I like spending time tearing my house apart and putting it together back again. Join me on home improvement tutorials, tips on my blog.

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