When in doubt… ask &  listen…ask someone else & listen again..lol

Hiring someone to work on your prized possession is not as easy as you would think. Say you’re out for dinner with a bunch of girlfriends, (obviously this analogy is meant for the women ) and you meet someone new at your table with a great haircut, perfect colour, perfectly coiffed, flattering, and best of all it looks easy. You are going to ask her where she got her hair done, you may try the new stylist yourself, it’s hair, it will grow if you don’t like it, still…….. you are afraid to try someone new right? WHY on earth do we hire people to work on our homes when we haven’t checked into their references or credentials?

Rule #1
No matter what the project is, go to see Ken Middleton, he’s the building inspector for Scugog Township (905-985-7346), don’t tell him I sent you… 🙂 Explain the proposed project to him; renovating a kitchen, bathroom, basement, adding a family room. Questions to ask the building inspector are:
a) if you need a building permit
b) can he give you a list of new codes by todays standards? So, if/when you are going to sell that house, it checks out!
c) ask him if the project needs to be inspected during the construction period
d) ask him for any referrals he might have had great experiences with. Who better to ask than the man who has to inspect most things anyway right?
e) Find out which parts of the project need licensed pros, plumbers? electricians? or general contractor? Generally in a smaller town like Scugog Township, General Contractors are NOT licensed, in Toronto they are. Whether this is set to change or not, we don’t know for sure. I hope it does, and soon.

Rule #2
Ask your friends and neighbours who they have used, not who they ‘would’ use, but who they have actually hired so you can see the quality of work for yourself in their home. Don’t skimp on the time to investigate. If you’re looking at having a bathroom renovated for example, check the same type of reno in your friends house, how is the finishing? How does the plumping look? Test it. How does the tile work look? Do you like the overall ‘finish’ of the room? If it was your bathroom and you were soaking in the tub for an hour is there some little finish that would drive you crazy every time you looked at? Is there wall paint on the ceiling paint?…. grrrrrrr… I hate that!! Is the space between the tiles different or perfect? Are the wall switches level? It is a complete waste of hard-earned $$ to have to hire someone else to come in and fix what should have been right the first time. Look at everything. If you not happy with the work let your friends or neighbours know what you thought. They may take a second look and never hire that guy again.

Rule #3
If you require licensed pro’s…. ask to see their license, they will be proud to show you their credentials. They’ve worked hard for them and pay every year for continuing education and fees. You will get what you pay for.

Rule #4
Enter into a written contract, details, details, details and more details!
a) cost of labour?
b) cost of materials? If they are included in the quote or not?
c) Who picks out and picks up materials?
d) make sure that if you are picking out and picking up, that you have everything ready for the contractor, otherwise you will be paying for the wasted time.
e) ensure everything is written into the contract including site clean up
f) ensure the full price of the job is in the contract.
g) agree with your contractor on a payment schedule, subject to the provisions of the Construction Lien Act and include the schedule of deposits plus payments in the contract
h) also have all contingencies built into the contract too. For example what happens when the wall is opened and there are problems there were un-expected, make sure it is in writing how this will be handled.
i) if there is any mention of tools, like screwdrivers, paint brushes, paint trays, sand paper, or any other type of equipment (other than large machinery to rent specifically for your project) do not sign that contract.  Every professional has invested his money into his tools and equipment and uses them to make an honest living. You are never required to buy their tools for them.

Get at least 2 quotes from “Reputable Contractors”; you will have a chance to meet them all when they come in to see the proposed project. DO NOT do an ‘online quote’. DO NOT let someone in to do work simply based on how great they say they are!!!

“There are some unscrupulous individuals who prey on the unsuspecting public and suggest doing building renovation work that is not needed. Do not sign or agree to allow people to do work without consulting someone who is Knowledgeable and Trustworthy.”  (excerpt from the City of Toronto.. Licensing.. Contractors website)

We have a list of great Contractors, carpenters, plumbers and electricians to talk to.   And a short list of ones to stay away from.

The Maven Lane Gang  🙂