Hiring a contractor can be a little – or a lot! – scary, especially now, thanks to reality TV and shows like Holmes on Homes, we are shown the devil himself in the world of home renos: the deceitful, rogue contractor!
The task of hiring a contractor can also make you feel overwhelmed if you have little or no experience of doing so in the past. Here is some great information to help you out, along with some general contractor questions you should definitely ask before signing on the dotted line and handing over your hard-earned cash (actually, you should never hand over cash, but more on this later).
First Things First
Before you even set out to find a contractor, you first need to figure out exactly what work it is that you want done and check to see if you will need a building permit. For Moncton residents, the City of Moncton website will provide you with all the information you need to get going, including a detailed FAQ and permit application forms that you can download. If you don’t live in Moncton, you can find out more by contacting your municipal office.
Finding Potential Contractors
Get the word out that you’re looking for a contractor to see what recommendations pop up in conversation. By letting your friends, family and neighbours know that you’re hiring a contractor, if they have any positive or negative experiences with a contractor, you can be sure they’ll let you know. “Hey! You should totally hire so-and-so, they did my kitchen last year and I’m so happy with it!” or “Oh, don’t even think about hiring so-and-so, I got them to do my deck and I’m having nothing but problems.”
Don’t just try to find recommendations the conventional way either; use social media to help you find the perfect contractor. Post on your Facebook Wall that you’re looking for a contractor, or use Twitter to see what sort of response you get: tweeting “Know of any great remodelling contractors in #Moncton?” could provide you with some great recommendations.
Once you’ve shortlisted some potential contractors, make sure you check out their reputation with your local Home Builders’ Association:
General Contractor Questions
Okay, so now you think you’ve finally found the perfect contractor for the job. Here are several questions you should ask before you hire:
How to Hire a Contractor by Mike Holmes: In this HGTV article, Mike Holmes covers a lot of important details, such as: what questions you should ask the references of potential contractors; what kinds of terms you should make sure are included in your contract; information on payment schedules; your rights to hold back a percentage of your final payment for a certain amount of time to ensure the job was done correctly; and more. (Another great read by Mike Holmes is an article called Contractor Red Flags: How to Spot Trouble.)
Hiring a Contractor by CMHC (Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation): This article has an abundance of helpful information on finding and choosing a contractor, information on getting estimates and proposals, consumer protection laws, information on insurance, and more. This article also includes a great checklist to assist you in hiring a contractor. You should also check out CMHC’s sample renovation contract.
Success Stories / Horror Stories
What sort of experiences have you had hiring a contractor? Share your stories by leaving a comment below!