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