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How to hire a contractor for home renovations

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After the expense and hassle of a home reno, there’s nothing worse than finding you’re unhappy with your contractor’s work. Fortunately, by learning how to hire a contractor for home renovations, you can avoid problems and find the right person for the job.

When a contractor installs a fixture wrong, the loss to you is often far more than just the replacement cost. You’ll have to cut through drywall to access the pipes and wires, which means patching and painting all over again. The expense is even steeper when you damage tiles or wall finishes, which you may not be able to match again. 

In this article, we’ll show you a way to ensure your contractor is legitimate and hold them accountable in case of problems. Protect yourself and your home by following these steps during the hiring process, at the start of work and throughout the project. 

Ask for the right documents when hiring a contractor

There are a few key items you should ask your contractor to provide before the start of work. As well as making sure they’re licensed and insured, you want to make sure you have their full contact information. That way, if there’s a problem, you have what you need to pursue legal action.

We recommend you ask your contractor for a copy of the following documents and make photocopies for your records.

  • Trade License: This is what separates a “handyman” from a licensed professional. A license shows that your contractor has the necessary training to do the work up to code.
  • Liability Insurance: If the contractor causes damage to your home, you want to make sure they have insurance to cover it. You can also look for a public record of your contractor’s insurance through the Ontario College of Trades.
  • Driver’s License: In the event you need to pursue legal action, you want to make sure you have your contractor’s full name and contact information.

Don’t forget documentation for sub-contractors

Part of how to hire a contractor for home renovations is remembering that contractor often bring in subcontractors. And just because your contract is a licensed specialist, that doesn’t mean their subcontractors are.

If there are other people involved, it’s just important to get their trade license, insurance and contact information.

Pay contractors for work and supplies on a schedule

Work out a payment structure that treats your contractor fairly without putting you at risk. The best method is to stagger payments, so the contractor is compensated for work as it’s done. 

Ask for an itemized list of materials at the start of the project. This helps you stay on top of your budget and prevents any surprises down the line.

On the first day of work, give payments for materials only. The rest of the payments can be made in installments as the work progresses. This way, there’s no risk of your contractor walking away from the job with money for work that hasn’t been completed.

Have a contract with your start and finish date

A clear contract protects both you and your contractor and can help prevent disputes halfway through the project. Your contract should include a timeline for work to be done, so that things can progress on schedule.

Make sure your contract includes the:

  • Start date when the work should begin
  • Finish date by which all work should be completed
  • Penalties for delay of work past the finish date. You can negotiate a percentage of payment to be lowered per extra day or week.

Take photos throughout the project

Make sure you take photos of everything before, during and after the renovation. If something goes wrong and your home is damaged during the reno, you may need to make a legal claim against your contractor. In that case, you’ll need the photos as evidence.

(And if all goes well, you’ll still be happy to have the before pictures to compare them to your beautiful new space.)

Get work inspected before the drywall goes up

Many people mistakenly skip a pre-drywall inspection of plumbing and electrical work. They’re in too big a rush to get the renovation done or they think an inspection is an unnecessary expense. However, an unnoticed problem can be a much more expensive and inconvenient headache down the line.

Let’s say, for example, you spend $30,000-40,000 on a kitchen renovation and don’t get an inspection. A few months later, there’s a problem—your contractor did the work wrong. As well as a complete rewiring or getting the plumbing ripped out, you also need to pay for the cosmetic work again. The wall that was torn up needs to be patched, painted, tiled, etc. The end result looks the same, but costs the time and price of a whole new reno.

Save yourself the time, money and stress. Before the drywall goes up, have a third party specialist (a licensed plumber, electrician or HVAC specialist) do an inspection.

Looking for an inspection company? Neighbourhood Plumbing is part of Triple Check Expert Home Inspections. We send you a licensed plumber (that’s us!), electrician and HVAC specialist to make sure nothing gets missed. For more info, visit the Triple Check Inspections website or call us at 647-404-7139.

Now you know how to hire a contractor for home renovations!

By following the steps in this article, you can feel good about hiring a contractor. After all, you know they’re licensed and insured, you’ve agreed to a contract and you’re paying for work as it’s done. And, if something goes wrong, you have what you need to pursue legal action.

Contractors know the dangers homeowners face when choosing someone to work on their home. The right contractor will understand why you’re taking precautions and be happy to accommodate you. If they’re not, it’s a clear sign they’re not the right person for the job.

Looking for a licensed and insured plumber for your kitchen or bathroom renovation? Neighbourhood Plumbing serves East Toronto communities including Scarborough, East York, Leslieville, Riverdale, the Beaches, Cliffside and Guildwood. Contact us today to get your project started!