By Samuel Lapidus of Keystone Ridge Developments Ltd.
Everyone has a horror story about a home renovation gone wrong, from losing your deposit, spending more than you anticipated, or a project that took too long to finish. The reality is that the average homeowner doesn’t know all they should know when undertaking a renovation project.
Ask a RenoMark Renovator is a new column where you get to ask professional renovation experts your renovation related questions and get educated on the important steps you need to take to be successful in renovating your home.
Your questions will be answered by me or other RenoMark renovators that have years of experience in the renovation industry. RenoMark was established by the GTA-based Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) to identify professional contractors that have agreed to abide by a renovation-specific code of conduct. The RenoMark program has been endorsed by the Canadian Home Builders’ Association and the Ontario Home Builders’ Association.
So let’s get started and go through the critical steps in a renovation which most homeowners don’t know about.
1. Define your project. The more you know what you want out of the renovation, the more accurately the renovators can help you achieve that goal.
2. Set your budget and expectations on the same path. If they are not realistic or in alignment then you will be disappointed before you even start.
3. Select the right renovator, you should look to reputable organizations such as RenoMark as a source of professional companies. Plus, these companies must adhere to the RenoMark code of conduct and the association’s code of ethics, this alone means that they are a professional and not a fly-by-night company.
4. Sign a contract. The contract should be reviewed by a lawyer and it will be the basis of understanding for the work moving forward. At a minimum, it should include costs, payment schedule, construction timeline, product-specific details, a communication protocol, warranty clause, and a close-out plan. Avoid renovators who offer to do work without a contract in an attempt to avoid paying the HST. This type of renovator may also not be paying workers’ compensation or carry adequate insurance, leaving you at financial risk.
5. Check on progress. Regular communication between you and your renovator is essential and may avoid problems. During the course of a renovation, it is common for the homeowners to request changes or ask for additional work. These requests may affect the cost and time it takes to complete your project. It is important that you have a signed change order for all changes. Finally, remember to ask questions. The last thing anybody wants is to make an assumption or a guess that may lead to an error and then disappointment.
If this column has generated any thoughts or questions regarding a past or future renovation please send your questions to RenoMark@bildgta.ca and look for our answers to your questions in the next Ask a RenoMark Renovator. I look forward to hearing from you.
Samuel Lapidus is the chair of the Renovator & Custom Builder Council and a member of the BILD board of directors. He has been a member of BILD since 2011. Lapidus is also president of Keystone Ridge Developments Ltd., a company specializing in condominium remodelling, unique in the renovation industry.