If you’re thinking about doing some renovations in your home, then this blog is the perfect place to start! Renovations can be nerve-wracking to embark on; there are many details you need to figure out and take care of to get the best result. Consider this blog your complete guide to home renovations. We’ll cover things such as hiring a renovation contractor, renovation ideas, avoiding mistakes while renovating, etc.
Top 7 Things to Consider when Hiring a Renovation Contractor for your Project
Home renovations are a big emotional and financial investment, so it’s important to ensure that you’re hiring a good renovation company that you can trust and deliver a great end product.
Here’s our list of the top 7 things you should consider when choosing a home renovation contractor:
1) Do a background check
Meet with the contractor face to face and ask him about his experience and portfolio. “He shouldn’t just flash a few photos off his phone,” says Jack. “Anyone can steal photos off the internet.” Ask the contractor to provide at least five contact numbers for references.
The next step is actually to call the references and ask the following questions:
- How much down payment did they pay?
- Did he start and finish on time?
- Were there any issues?
- Were there any hidden costs?
- Are you happy with the work?
In addition, an honest contractor will also divulge what a former client paid for a job. However, keep in mind if the bathroom was completed two years ago, you should factor in inflation.
2) The expertise should match the job
Always ensure the person doing the job is an expert in their field. A finished carpenter should not be installing the new electrical panel. The contractor should verify that his trades have the credentials for the job. After all, you want professional results for the work you’re paying for.
3) Ensure he (or she) is insured
Did you know you’re liable if a roofer falls off your house? Workplace safety is serious business. It’s critical to both your peace of mind and your contractor’s, which is why we have WCB (Workers Compensation Board) coverage in British Columbia. The Independent agency will pay a certain percentage of net wage loss should an accident occur on site. A homeowner should always ask for proof of WCB coverage. Every contractor should be able to provide his information, and you can go to the WCB website to confirm the contractor’s current coverage status.
4) Start a paper trail
The most common disputes after a job are finished revolve around money. That can be avoided with this advice: “Get a written contract. Extras can be commonplace in jobs and should be accounted for in writing. As a project proceeds, surprises could cost more to fix, or the homeowner may decide they want to add something to the job. In such cases, document the extras as the job proceeds, so the accounting is straight between you as the client and the contractor.
The written contract should never be vague and always include the following:
- Start and approximate finish dates
- Any potential additional costs
- Detailed payment schedule
5) The cheapest renovation contractor is the most expensive
The adage “you get what you pay for” comes to mind here, as does “a dude with a hammer doth not a contractor make.” Remember: get multiple quotes, and determine the man (or the woman) for the job only after you’ve done the background checks.
6) Pay some upfront
A deposit should never be more than 10% of the total cost of the job. Homeowners should never pay a contractor more than this before they’ve even stepped foot in their home. There are exceptions to the rule if the job requires, for instance, pre-delivery of custom expensive materials before the job commences.
7) Premium products are your choice
Not everyone wants a fancy toilet that could inflate the price of a job. The contractor should give you the option of choosing your materials. However, it’s wise to listen to the pros of insulation and other specialty materials; certain materials perform better depending on the circumstance.
Follow those basic steps, and you will get a qualified contractor who will get the results you’re looking for at the price point you have agreed upon!
If you’re thinking about renovating and don’t know where to start, we will take you through the most basic projects people decide to tackle around their homes for some inspiration!
Painting the House!
The quickest and least expensive “quick” renovating improvement you can do to your living space is to paint it. Adding a fresh palette to the walls always freshens up the space. A clean new look is always great, and you can stay trendy with the day’s new “in style” colours!
Update Your Existing Flooring
Flooring is easy to change and is a relatively quick solution to give your home a new feel. Even if you decide on a small change, such as the type of wood you use for your flooring, it will change how you and your guests perceive a room. Remember what the room will be used for before choosing the flooring. For example, you might want carpet in a nursery or easy-to-clean wood floors in the kitchen and throughout the home’s common spaces. Having wood floors may be a bit more costly than carpet, but the cleanliness and upgrade are both healthy and a great investment in your home’s value!
Swapping Out Your Lights!
Tired of your existing lighting? Changing some lighting can dramatically alter the look and feel of a space in your home. Nowadays, recessed lighting is a very popular choice. Paired with some ambient lighting, recessed lighting makes for a very elegant solution, not occupying visual space and illuminating the area properly. Be sure to have a professional electrician install the lighting systems selected as they need to be compatible with your old wiring!
Renovating Kitchen Countertops and adding an Island
Countertops can add the most personality to a kitchen. The option of only changing the countertops (instead of all the cabinets) can dramatically change the feel and look of the kitchen without breaking the bank. There is an infinite amount of options available for countertops. Modern quartz tops are all the rage now as they provide easy cleaning, super-tough durability, and virtually no maintenance.
Should you have the space when renovating, consider adding an island. This practical addition can serve as a good place for guests to congregate, and it also adds a working space that is always desirable!
Swapping old appliances with new ones can be costly, but the work involved is relatively minor. This upgrade can dramatically change the look of a space, and new appliances give you more efficient energy consumption.
Reno Projects that Require Professionals
As we’ve mentioned many times in the past. Renovations involving electrical work with existing or new wiring require the work of a professional and could be dangerous & very costly if attempted by yourself. Below are a few renovation scenarios that require professionals to complete reno projects.
Breaking Down Walls
Some walls (however inconveniently placed) are support and weight-bearing walls, which would have immensely negative repercussions if knocked down. A professional can help you determine which walls are safe to get rid of and which are not. This can prevent disaster.
A professional should do all bathroom reno projects involving plumbing and piping work. Any incorrectly done piping can lead to leakage and cause water damage to the rest of your house. Save yourself the hassle and cost of reversing mistakes by hiring a professional plumber to help you with your bathroom reno project.
There is a lot of room for error when finishing the walls and flooring of your basement. Any incorrectly done insulation and foundation will make for a terrible time. Hire a professional to help make sure there are no leaks.
Lots of companies are willing to replace your windows at a low price. It’s always a good idea to let them handle window replacements. As incorrectly installed windows are prone to leaks. Whether it’s water seeping through or your air conditioning/heat leaking out, driving up your hydro bill, or forcing you to make costly repairs.
Liability Insurance is a Must!
If you are considering having a company (or individual) provide home service for you, due diligence is key to protecting your biggest asset, your home!
High-quality and comprehensive Liability Insurance is a must if you are considering hiring a contractor. If the company does not have insurance or is underinsured, the homeowner can be held liable for the contractor’s actions and or damage.
Here is a potential hypothetical situation:
Jane and John hire ABC Contracting to paint the outside of their family home. Jane forgets to check the insurance of ABC Contracting or chooses to ignore the need for insurance altogether. Jane and John may have chosen ABC Contracting because they provided the lowest bid, but beware, it’s not always the cheapest company that is delinquent with insurance coverage. In reality, John and Jane are willing to “roll the dice” to save money.
Let’s assume an accident occurs. One of ABC Contracting’s employees falls from a ladder, and a serious injury (or death) happens. As the homeowners, John and Jane expect the Contractor to be liable for his actions. In this situation, ABC has no insurance, so the injured individual or the deceased’s family sued John and Jane’s Homeowner Insurance Policy for their loss.
This is where John and Jane could have the shock of their lives.
Unless John and Jane have a “separate contracting insurance rider policy” added to their basic Homeowner Insurance policy, they will have no recourse and have to pay out of pocket for the claim.
Beware, this happens… albeit rarely. Due Diligence is a must!
The long and short story is that you could be in a major financial crisis if you don’t deal with a professional contractor with the proper insurance and workers’ compensation coverage required by law. Finding out ahead of the project’s start is a must!
Tips on working with a Renovation Contractor
If you’re hiring a professional to do your renovations, it’s important to know how to deal with them to ensure your project runs as smoothly as possible. This will save you and your contractor a lot of time and effort.
Working Smoothly with a Contractor
Upon choosing the right Contactor, try to ensure that your project goes off smoothly by continuing to work as a team throughout the project. Just as you have expectations of your contractor, such as being available and on time, your contractor will need to rely on you for basic input and decisions.
Know what you want
Get off to a good start by having ideas of what you are looking for – nothing is more frustrating for a contractor than a client who does not know what they want or that is indecisive. Now, you don’t need to present a completed blueprint, but you should have an idea of your space – for example, if you are renovating your kitchen, do you like dark or light woods? Do you prefer tile or wood flooring? Do you like an “open feel” or a cozy feel? Are there certain things that you know you want and also things you do not want?
Understandably, there will be some difficult decisions to make. Your contractor will, and should, respect this, but generally, knowing what you are looking for (before you begin the discussion) will help your contractor to provide you with options relevant to your project, and this will ensure that you are going to be satisfied with the project’s results.
Be accessible for your contractor. This doesn’t mean that you need to be at their “beck and call” 24-7 but answer the phone when they call (it’s most likely relevant and important) and respond to emails in a timely fashion. Consider yourself the super-foreman of your project – give answers to your team when they need them and give feedback (constructively) throughout your project; if you like something, let them know. A contractor who is diligent and great at their job should and will love this kind of feedback.
Respect the contractor’s workplace
Obviously, you expect the contractor to respect your home, so ensure you respect their workspace during your renovation. It is your home, but the contractors will likely keep tools there during the renovation and create a space of “their own”. Tools can not only be dangerous (as can construction zones – things like nails and staples on the floor and fragile tiles or glass just waiting to be broken), but broken or missing items can cause costly project delays. If the site is organized (as a good contractor always insists on) and the spaces of the homeowner and contractor are respected (by both parties), the project will flow smoothly and without friction.
One of the best ways to work well with your contractor is by working as part of a team. After all, you are the “Head Foreman”! Be respectful to them, and they will most likely reciprocate the courtesy. There is nothing more discourteous to tradespeople than being treated poorly. Remember that you have invited them into your home and are all working toward the same goal.
How to Avoid Renovation Stress
Transforming your kitchen or bathroom into your dreams’ living space can be stressful. Here are some tips on how to avoid unnecessary stress during your renovation.
Work with a professional contractor
First, find a professional contractor by getting leads from family and/or friends in your area. Check references, and don’t be afraid to ask questions! You want to know how the contractor will manage your budget, how much professional experience they have, and what the quality of their work looks like.
Give your dreams a reality check
The next step is a reality check. Your cellar probably can’t be transformed into that sun-filled, loft-like retreat you have envisioned in your dreams. But don’t despair. There are a lot of other ideas and dreams out there you haven’t even thought of yet. Why not browse through renovation magazines and blogs to help you find more realistic dreams?
A reasonable renovation budget is key
A reasonable budget is a must for every renovation. Come up with a budget that leaves at least 10 percent for unplanned expenses. Be prepared with a little financial buffer for a potential change of plans or other accidental surprises. To help you draft a reasonable budget, visit showrooms for pricing and/or have your contractor give you an estimate.
To help yourself avoid unnecessary stress, consider expanding your timeline. Sometimes unexpected circumstances can put your renovation on hold. Imported material stuck at the border or the perfect shade of granite no longer being in stock is not uncommon and out of your hands. You don’t need to stress or compromise with a little extra time on your side.
There will be a mess
Finally, a mess is an ugly yet unavoidable by-product of any renovation. The key is not to worry too much about it because most contractors include a basic clean-up after the renovation. If you have the money left in your budget, you may consider hiring a heavy-duty cleanup crew. This will avoid stress and make your newly renovated dream space much more enjoyable.
It seems like stress while renovating is inevitable, but we can help ease the pain. Ask us how!
MC Renovation and Paint For Commercial Renovations
Commercial renovations require on-time and on-budget performance. MC Renovation and Painting goes beyond the industry standard in quality and commitment. We are committed to providing the tools, premium-grade products, and expertise to create the fashionable and adaptive styles of today’s commercial looks.
Our work is guaranteed. We offer a 5-year warranty on exterior paint projects and a 10-year warranty on interior work. Don’t hesitate to call and request references.
In over 26 years, we have never had a complaint at the BBB and hold our grade at A+.
Licensed Renovation Contractor vs Handyman
Even though their abilities may sometimes overlap, Acknowledging and understanding the difference between a handyman and a licensed renovation contractor is essential for any homeowner who wants to do renovation work on their home. When it comes time to hire one of these professionals, it is always best if you know which one is right for the job. You may spend more than necessary to get a job done if you don’t choose the right professional.
Below, M.C. Renovation & Painting has outlined the jobs (that each professional is best at) to help break down and simplify the important decision you are considering. The simple fact is that a licensed contractor should never have to perform the work of a handyman, and a handyman should never be performing the work of a licensed contractor.
The term ‘Handyman’ is the most appropriate name for a “Johnny on the spot” fix-it-up person. With no formal qualifications, licenses, or certificates needed, a handyman is simply someone skilled at performing certain tasks around the house. The main factor distinguishing a handyman is that he will typically take any job, no matter how small.
Typically, a handyman will be an individual, have a few assistants, or work for a handyman management company. Regardless of where you find your handyman, just keep in mind that it is best to screen candidates to ensure they can do what you need and fit your expectations. Ultimately though, a handyman should be able to tackle just about any small job you throw his or her way.
These professionals are used to doing anything from painting a room to patching a hole in a wall to changing a hard-to-reach light bulb. Ultimately, the handyman is like the utility player on a baseball team. They may not be the best at any one thing, but they will be good at a large variety of small jobs, a sort of “jack of all trades”.
The bottom line is that a handyman can be a relatively inexpensive asset to help you overcome the basic household problems that arise. Larger renovations or major overhauls should be referred to a contractor. A handyman rarely works with more than two people, and a handyman does not normally perform large projects.
Licensed Renovation Contractor
A licensed contractor acts as a director for larger construction projects for your home. If you want to remodel a kitchen, bathroom, or basement, a licensed contractor is an individual you will contact to get the job done. Unlike a handyman, these professionals must keep up with licensing requirements and consider the big picture and all aspects of a construction project. This is what M.C. Painting & renovation specializes in.
In most cases, licensed contractors will have the assistance of a team of people, which varies depending on the project. For example, if the contractor needs to work on a kitchen renovation, they would need to have a plumber, an electrician and a cabinet installer/carpenter at the very least. The contractor will likely have a tiler and some general labourers. On the other hand, if a home entertainment center is being installed for a basement renovation, the contractor will probably just need an electrician, a builder, and a floorer.
When it comes down to doing the actual work, the licensed contractor will typically be on the sidelines managing. Think of the contractor as a coach; his team’s formation depends on the project he needs to work on.
The bottom line is that a licensed contractor is someone reserved to performing full projects or renovation jobs rather than single tasks. They usually carry much larger insurance policies and give you a much more detailed plan. At the same time, the service of a licensed contractor is understandably a bit more expensive than a handyman’s.
Ultimately, the easiest way to decide whether you need a handyman or a licensed contractor is to look at the scope of your project. If you are considering a simple task that you could perform yourself, you do not need a contractor. If you are looking to do a major renovation, a handyman is typically not even qualified to help with your project.
How to Avoid Common Home Renovation Mistakes
You can read how to avoid the most common home renovation mistakes in the following.
Renovation mistakes could devalue your home
Often customers ask for a home renovation that could end up devaluing their home. Why not tap into our years of expertise to help avoid the most common home renovation mistakes?
Make sure not to spend most of your budget on just one room. Keep the overall feel of your newly renovated home in mind, as future purchasers will be put off by the fact that all other rooms are significantly more dated in comparison. Continuity throughout your renovated home is the key.
Choose structure and safety over cosmetics
Do not attempt cosmetic improvements while neglecting any underlying problems such as plumbing or electrical. These under-the-surface issues should always be a priority when you are renovating! In the end, it doesn’t matter how nice your house looks if key parts do not function properly. Ignoring safety and structure problems could ruin your new renovation and the sale of your home.
Ensure your upgrades are part of a bigger plan
Poorly planned upgrades can create a disconnect in a certain room. Adding fancy new countertops to old worn cabinets will NOT be the quick fix you were hoping for. Most homebuyers will not likely spend money on partial improvements, which they will have to redo. “Putting lipstick on a pig”, so to speak, does not improve the value of your house.
Invest in a professional kitchen renovation
A Kitchen renovation is probably the most expensive, and its outcome is often the make or breaks in the buyer’s eyes. Layout, materials, and general feel are crucial in a kitchen renovation. Invest in a professional designer or renovation contractor to look over proposed changes because it could save you a lot of headaches and money.
Please contact us to discuss your ideas with a kitchen renovation professional to avoid mistakes. We are happy to provide you with a free estimate as well!
Good, Fast, Reasonable Renovations
Finally, we will end this blog with general tips about home renovations that will ensure you start your project with a clear perspective!
Can home renovations be good, fast, and reasonable?
Clearly, home renovations can be good, fast and reasonable. Nevertheless, this is only true if you choose the right contractor for your project. Cost is important, but ‘good, fast and reasonable is not the same as good, fast and cheap. Alarm bells should ring if a company is only keen on competing on price alone. Certainly, a cheap contractor will cut corners and not use quality material or high-end professionals.
Low-cost renovations are not necessarily your best option
You may have a few requirements when finding a contractor for your renovations. Considerations like ‘local company’ and ‘eco-friendly’ are often factors. However, high on your list is, without a doubt, the cost of your home renovation.
But be careful! Focusing too much on only the cost could eliminate your best option for the entire project. Instead, focus on finding a reputable contractor who uses quality materials. Also, look for a renovation company with good time management. Consequently, you will end up saving money in the long haul.
High-quality renovations will last longer
If your renovations last longer, you must focus on quality material and craftsmanship. Some cheap contractors will get you across the line. As a result, you will have to replace, repaint and repair within no time. This might end up costing you more than choosing the right renovation company in the first place. Ensure your general contractor doesn’t cut corners and can provide you with different options.
A reasonable renovation contractor plans ahead
Planning with your general contractor is always a reasonable idea. Details like lighting and where to include electrical and data points can be crucial. Discuss different options on a variety of things. Keep your future in mind. Do you have a growing family, or will you be downsizing? That can make the difference in keeping space open or blocking off access. Good forward thinking and planning will save you money.
Get it right the first time
Ask critical questions before selecting a company to ensure your renovation is done right. After getting estimates from different contractors, don’t just choose the cheapest option. Research their reputation and talk to some past clients. Ensure the quality of material and craftsmanship. Remember that rectifying problems caused by a cheap builder might become much more expensive. A reputable renovation company will do it once and will do it right.
Thinking about hiring a Professional Renovation Contractor?
M.C. Renovation & Painting is a full-service home renovation contractor for all your reno projects. All client projects are handled professionally from design to completion with no sub-contracting. We have an A+ rating from BBB. Therefore our company’s one-on-one service ensures the highest standards of workmanship with a timely “no-hassle” completion of all reno projects. For more information, contact us today!