Spring Renovation Special: How to… Select a Renovator

Bob de Wit
April 18, 2016

As seen in...

Westcoast Condominium

The first step in hiring a professional renovator is to source renovation companies that seem well suited for your project.

Look around your neighbourhood for renovation projects underway. Ask family and friends who have recently completed a renovation. Most people enjoy discussing their renovation experiences. Talk with suppliers you may be considering for your renovation. Reputable renovators will have a network of suppliers with whom they conduct business regularly. Visit home shows, and check out industry programs such as www.ovationawards.ca for award-winning projects and renovators. The GVHBA also hosts several free home renovation shows that offer useful advice and that give you opportunities to meet directly with renovators in one easy location.

Prepare a List of Questions 

Once you have narrowed down a list, you will need to sit down with each renovator to discuss your project and their services in details.

Make sure you discuss the same criteria with each company to help you compare them later. Be prepared to talk about your project in detail. Outline your plans, what you want to achieve, and the renovation services you are looking for. If you are uncertain about your needs, ask the renovators to explain the entire process and the services offered by their company.

Meet with prospective renovators in your home, one at a time. Do this as early in your project as possible, when you have a good idea of what you want, but before you have worked out too many details. A renovator's technical experience and practical knowledge with building codes and design trends can be a great asset in the planning phase of your project. Don’t be afraid to ask for ideas and suggestions. Experienced renovators often see possibilities overlooked by the homeowner.

Ask about Experience and Past Projects

Ensure the renovator has the kind of experience and skillset you need for your job. How long they have been in business? Do they have any special skills or expertise?

Always follow up on the references provided by the renovator. If you found the renovator through a personal recommendation, you should still follow up. Ask previous clients about their satisfaction with the company and the results. Was the project completed on time? On budget? Would they hire the renovator again or recommend the company to friends? 

Get Several Quotes

Three companies should be sufficient. Most often the bids of experienced professional renovators fall within the same price range of five to 10 percent. Make certain the renovators are specifying the same quality materials and are offering to do the same work. Verify that taxes are included in the price.

Then get the specifics in writing. At a minimum, contract details should include a description of the work, the materials used, start and finish dates, as well as the price and payment schedule. Ask your lawyer to check it before you sign. 

Good management is essential to achieve your renovation goals. Professional renovators will coordinate your entire project. Once complete, a professional renovator will still be there with a commitment to after-sales service.

Professional renovators show a commitment to maintain their professional status through continuing education and industry involvement, always offer contracts, will provide a list of references for previous projects, and show proof of liability insurance and workers’ compensation. When you add it all up, working with a professional renovator is your best assurance that you will get the quality and value that you can enjoy for years to come.

Bob de Wit
Bob de Wit is the CEO of the Greater Vancouver Home Builders’ Association (GVHBA), the voice of the residential construction industry in Metro Vancouver. GVHBA has more than 850 members and is proudly affiliated with the provincial and national Canadian Home Builders' Associations.