Reno Tips

Here are some stray thoughts that might help you select a contractor on your renovation project.

  1. DON’T DO IT. It really is worse than anything you have ever experienced…EVER.
  2. If you absolutely have to do it, take heed: In addition to references, talk to the vendors (electrician, kitchen cabinet maker etc)…this is a very good thermometer on what type of business person he/she is.
  3. If the references don’t give you good and bad goods, they are not being honest…no renovation is perfect. Ask questions like what their expectations were, some people are more loosey goosey than others and expectations vary considerably. We had honest feedback from the references we were provided, and we were still surprised at some things.
  4. Make sure you detail everything thoroughly in your contract. This is what has saved us with all of our post discussions. I don’t think George has ever dealt with such detailed people before. It’s my impression that they normally like things really vague so they can add $$$ to the budget and if you don’t detail up front, you WILL get hit.
  5. Get close to the vendors. Remember that your contractor’s motivation is different than your’s. And the vendors would rather deal with you anyway.
  6. Make sure you lay out your expectations for dust control…craft paper on the floors, plastic off doorways, be extremely clear – obviously they will do the minimum if it’s not clearly defined.
  7. Make sure you let your contractor know when they have exceeded your expectation or when they have failed (hopefully more exceeding than failing) . DON’T TRUST YOUR CONTRACTOR.
  8. Meet the trades. Get to know them, after all they are in your house when you are not.
  9. It’s really nice if you can give the guys water, cookies and coffee…but at the very least, leave lots of water, particularly in summer when it’s really hot!
  10. Check the measurements on all drawings. Check measurements on all drawings. Check measurements on all drawings.
  11. If you have to do it, move out. No really. If you absolutely cannot move out, store your stuff…we covered our stuff and they are still filthy!
  12. Put support beams in BEFORE they begin the addition. It seems that what would be a time and hassle saver, has turned into quite a nightmare! We’re into week 7 waiting for tdb (the damn beam). Kitchen beam went in on week 6, basement is scheduled for week 8 of the beam fisasco.
  13. You, the homeowner control the draws. Yes, the contractor has the right to be paid, but if the project is not progressing due to scheduling or stupidity issues don’t give them more money until they reach the benchmarks that THEY SET in their work plan originally.
  14. If your contractor gives you a cleaning service, USE THEM. It is wonderful to have a clean house even for a short time.
  15. Have a really good idea on what’s supposed to happen next…and keep on top of the contractor. Remember, they have a 1000 different things they need to look after, you MUST look after your own interest.
  16. Make sure you get extras costed out BEFORE the work is done. DAH, you might say, but this is sometimes not as practical because projects can be delayed making work progress in spurts and contractors are not the best project managers (believe it or not), so paper work is the last thing they do.
  17. Know your contract scope…the trades do not, and may suggest things that are ‘extra’ and not even know it (bad management).
  18. Check on ALL your permits.Make sure your contractor closes all permits; you cannot sell your house if they are not closed.
  19. The Hold Back. You legally have the right to hold back 10% for 45 days after the last tool is removed from your house (until the last tool is removed, they are still working on your house). The 45 days are important because all vendors associated with your job have only 45 days to register a lean on your house (even though you contract with your contractor, the lean is on your house). So you hold back the 10% to make sure the contractor has paid everyone properly and there will be no leans on your house.
  20. Before you give the contractor the final payment (at 45 days) have your lawyer do a title search on your house to make sure there are no leans against it (this will cost about $200 in Ontario)
  21. Expect your renovation to be 1-3 months longer than estimated. Remember, his initial quoted time line is to get your business, after that your guess is as good as mine!
  22. Factor in parking permits if you live in the city. You will have to park on the street at least a few times during this reno and our tickets are $30 each!
  23. If you’ve had new wiring done or fixed old wiring, make sure you check ALL outlets to make sure they work.
  24. if you had new plumbing done, run the dishwasher, flush toilets and fill and drain bathtubs all at the same time and check for leaks (may take a few days to show up).

2 Responses to Reno Tips

  1. mike says:

    good tips.
    and don’t forget the one about threatening them with your bat and Eddy Greenspan as your lawyer.

  2. eiktaylor says:

    Don’t you mean “broom”?

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