Hiring a Contractor?
Here’s What You Need to Know
‘Tis the seasons that many of you will decide to embark on home renovations, while the weather permits you to do so or perhaps you are planning for that fall project. There are hundreds of options laid out in front of you, so it can be a tricky task to weed through all the businesses and find the right contractor to meet your needs.
The first step is to determine what you really need done vs. what you want done and what you can afford to pay. It might seem like the easy way out to choose a cheaper contractor that can do it all within your budget, but as you’ll see below, there are dangers in doing that. Don’t underestimate the importance of doing your own research and familiarizing yourself with the work that is going to be done to your home. Knowing your stuff before you get on the phone helps prevent a potential bad apple from scamming you.
Remember that you are not obligated to hire anyone on the first phone call or even the first quote so a good start is to write out all of your questions and pick a minimum of three contractors to set up meetings with. Determine:
- how familiar they are with the type of job you want to hire them for
- how long they have been working
- how many times they have done the particular project before (ask any specifics about the job).
For contractors, their business is about making money, and the sad thing that happens in every industry is that some people don’t care how they make the money, just that they do. With the current downturn in the economy, people who are not qualified to be doing work are presenting themselves as experienced professionals. It is up to you to do your research before making the commitment.
Here are some other important things to keep in mind:
Proper Licensing & Permits
What are the required permits and bylaws associated with home renovations in Calgary? If you don’t know these, check online or call your municipality to get more information on what certification the contractor needs before he legally works on your home. Make sure you ask about their insurance during the initial telephone interview. If they don’t have the particular permit or license, they should be willing and offer to get it if they want the job. Never take out the permit for them because this places liability on your shoulders if they decide to break the rules.
Level of Experience
2016 could be called the summer of “Tailgate contractors”
Essentially, these contractors don’t have the same experience as more seasoned workers and are often people who have been laid off of other jobs and have decided to make some money ‘fixing houses’ in the bad economy. This can result in them being cheaper to hire but it also means they may be more willing to bend the rules to keep the job. It might seem fantastic that you can get a contractor for way cheaper, but it’s important to consider why they can offer their service at such a reduced cost. Similar consideration to when you go into a store to buy a really nice purse or jacket and the price is “cheap”… is it real? Is it from a sweatshop? Some of these things aren’t pleasant to think about, when you’d rather think about the cost savings, but it’s important to make these considerations when it comes to your home.
On the flip side of this argument is this: Just because they are new, doesn’t mean that they are uneducated or will do bad work, it just means they are less experienced. It is very important in these cases to check references or speak to someone they have apprenticed for. They have to start somewhere but that doesn’t mean you should pay the price in the process.
Without proper insurance, you, the homeowner, are liable for anything that goes wrong during the work. That’s not to say that it will, and taking that chance probably isn’t worth saving a few bucks.
The cost of good work
Take a moment to consider the workmanship. Is your particular job a job that needs to be aesthetically pleasing or just a functional upgrade? This is one of those cases where you might not get what you pay for. Or you might get exactly what you pay for and that could be scary when it comes to the value of your home.
A Step By Step Guide:
- Do your research:
Know the basics before you begin
- Phone around:
Get quotes, references, and meet them first
Your intuition will be very important in this case, but trusting your gut without having first done the background research is a recipe for disaster.
- Project Expectation:
Clearly communicate timelines and project expectations up front to ensure everyone is on the same page and there are no surprises halfway through the work.
- Draw up a contract:
No matter how much you like a contractor and immediately trust them off the bat, ensure you get everything in writing. Some people make a business out of being suave, fast-talking, personable con artists.
Everyone likes to save money and DIY sometimes, but at the end of the day the costs for hiring a professional are far less from the beginning than if they have to come in and fix something that you made worse trying to do it yourself. Prevention is always better and cheaper than costly emergency repairs.