How To Hire A Renovation Company

the complete guide

There are some important things to consider when hiring a renovation company.

Read our complete guide to save yourself time and also from making costly mistakes.

Table of Contents

3 Key Questions to Ask Your Potential Renovation Contractor

That Will Help You Decide Whether to Hire Them or Not


Do you have any referrals that I can talk to? Can I actually talk to any of the people who left you a Facebook or Google review?


What happens if you go over the quoted budget?


Can you show me documentation that proves that you have liability insurance, a business license, & WCB?

Do Your Homework

How long has the contractor been in business?

What is their background and experience?

Find out how long:

Once you’ve gotten a hold of them, find out if they have:

Check their website for testimonials and ask them for references, also…

Ask about specific skill set:

Ask the Contractor:

“Do you have enough time to finish my project?”

It helps to know this

If they're busy


Are you able to talk openly and honestly to the contractor? Do they have excellent communication skills?

Initial planning


You’re job as the client

If you don’t know, ask!

“What if I can’t get a hold of my contractor?”

This is a major red flag. If you can’t get a hold of your contractor during the project, it is a sign that they are either too busy, overwhelmed or unreliable.

Vetting your contractor and asking for references is a good way to avoid this. Ask in advance for their contact information and precisely when they’ll return your phone call or text (it should never be longer than one business day).

License and Credentials

Is the contractor properly licenced?

Licensing for trades

Contractor business license

“Does my contractor need a Red Seal?”

It is recommended for a plumber or electrician to have a Red Seal.

What’s important is that the sub-trades that are doing the work have the proper certification. All major trades have a Red Seal component that you can ask your contractor about.

Contractors and Sub-trades

Who is doing the actual work? Are they sufficient qualified?

What trades will be doing the actual work on the project?

Who is doing the work and when?

Are the sub-trades qualified?

The whole point of hiring a reputable contractor is they, in turn, will employ reputable, qualified sub-trades to do the work.

If you’re concerned about the sub-trades experience level—ask! A good contractor will be able to communicate to you their team’s background, experience, and skill level.


Do they have general liability insurance? Are they registered with WorkSafe BC?

“How do I know if my contractor is insured?”

Ask! A good contractor will be able to provide proof of insurance, no questions asked. Make sure you get this proof before you sign the contract and make sure the dates on the insurance align with the work scheduled at your home.

Building Code Requirements

Is the contractor familiar with the local building code? Do they know if and when permits are needed?

Specific codes

Permit requirements

“Will the contractor need permits?”

Homeowners are required to go to the city to receive a permit before contacting a renovation contractor.


Will the contractor provide you with a list of past clients and jobs completed?

A credible contractor will have no problem providing at least 3.

Make sure it aligns with the work you’re doing.

Call at least 3

“Why should I ask for references?”

If you haven’t been referred to a contractor by a friend or relative, you’ll probably need to ask for references. The main reason to ask for references is:

a) to find out if they’re legitimate and can actually do the work and,

b) to find out if they have excellent communication skills and if you can work together to complete the project.

Renovations can take up to 3 months to plan and execute, you’ll need to know if you can work with this person for an extended period without confusion or conflict getting in the way of a successful project.

Timelines, Deadlines and Schedules

Will the contractor provide you with a detailed schedule from beginning to end of the project?

Decent timeline

List of deadlines

Detailed daily schedule

“Why do I need a schedule?”

There are two reasons for a schedule: convenience and accountability. Since you may live in the house during the project, you’ll need to know the work schedule to plan your life around workers arriving and materials being dropped off.

A schedule also helps you keep track of the project and will help ensure progress is made to your satisfaction.

Material Purchases

Who is purchasing materials for the project? You or the contractor?

Most contractors get discounts on materials, find out if that savings is passed on to you.

Who is doing what?

“Who makes the material purchases?”

This really depends. A contractor is going to have relationships with suppliers and will often get discounts not available to the general public.

You may want to have an active role in selecting and purchasing materials such as paint colour and appliances. Make sure you outline who is purchasing what while the contract is being written.

The Unexpected

Who is responsible for when/if something goes wrong?


What happens if something goes wrong?

With home renovation projects (especially older homes) this is not a question of if, but rather when. Make sure the contractor has addressed this and ensure that they have a contingency plan in place if, for example, unexpected plumbing or electrical issues arise during the project.

This is another example of the importance of communication.

The contractor should be approachable and open communication should be available between the two of you.

Site Rules

Will you provide a list of rule for the contractor and his crew to follow while on the job site?

Site Clean Up

Job sites are dirty

“Who is responsible for workplace safety?”

Ultimately, you’re responsible for making sure the contractor has taken the appropriate safety precautions throughout the project. A great contractor will address these up front—if they don’t—make sure you ask!

Address site safety in the contract and ensure that the contractor has liability insurance, and WorkSafe BC should anything happen on your property.


What are your expectations for the crew? What is their arrival time and is there someone in charge of them?

Work crew expectations:

Site Supervisor

“Why are foremen important?”

General contractors will often have multiple jobs running at the same time.

The on-site foreman is typically a trusted representative of the contractor and should be able to answer most of your questions with the full faith of his boss.

The foreman should also be responsible for site safety and always remain on-site. Contractors may have multiple foremen for each of their sub-trades.


How much of a deposit is the contractor expecting?

“Why pay a deposit in the first place?”

The deposit is an act of good faith to the contractor and shows you’re serious about the project.

You should be wary of contractors that ask for more than 25%, especially if it starts getting up into the 40%-50% range.

This could signal they have a cash flow problem which means their business might not be healthy, and you may wish to steer clear.


Does your contractor have one? What is their timeframe to fix deficiencies?

“How long should I expect a warranty to last?”

A contractor that doesn’t provide a warranty is a major red flag – it means the contractor has no faith in their work.

A good warranty is a sign from the contractor that they believe in their service.


Will they provide you with a proper detailed contract?

“Why do I need a contract?”

First of all, a contract helps prove that your contractor is legitimate. If a contractor is unwilling to offer a contract, it is a major red flag.

It is literally in their job title!

Drafting a contract at the start of a project will help you determine the relationship during the project. Most contractor horror stories with this major step get skipped.