We all know someone who can tell you a nightmarish story about a renovation project gone wrong. Sometimes it is was a contractor who was grossly over budget, or produced a substandard quality of work, or it could be a project that took weeks or months longer to complete than expected. Sadly, these incidents occur on a regular basis for many trusting and unsuspecting homeowners who hire contractors to complete renovations to their homes.
Your home is your largest investment and there is a huge financial and emotional commitment involved in the home improvement process. Hence, the importance of choosing and working with a contractor who is reliable, reputable, and understands your wants and needs.
First and foremost, you need to consider the fact that you will be welcoming your contractor into your home, and that they will be around you and your family for weeks and sometimes months. If you do not “click” with them and their crew, or feel any level of discomfort leaving them in your home unsupervised, it is probably not a wise idea to hire that particular person.
Martin Porteous from The Outside Guy is a local contractor who has built his business on the premise that the relationship you have with your contractor is of the utmost importance. With both Landscape and Construction Divisions, Martin and his crew have been helping people to achieve their home improvement goals for more than 12 years. “My ultimate goal is to remove the stress from the customer by providing excellent quality workmanship, on time and on budget. By using local suppliers for everything from electricians to building materials, we can ensure that we are fulfilling our commitment to our customers from start to finish” says Porteous. “We have long term relationships with many of our clients. They have gained confidence in us and our knowledge of their homes, and they trust us to look after everything – both inside and out!”
I recently visited a lovely estate home in Mono with Mr. Porteous, where he and his team have had the opportunity to complete several projects over the years. The homeowner was kind enough to allow us to take some pictures and have a look at the results of some of her recent home renovation projects. This particular home was built in the sixties, and, as a result, required some updates to bring it up to modern standards. I was immediately struck by the working relationship between Mr. Porteous and his client. An elderly woman living on her own could easily be the target of a contractor with less than good intentions. Instead, Barb welcomed us into her home, and proceeded to tell me right away how much she appreciated everything that Martin had done for her over the years, and how thrilled she was at the quality of workmanship. I asked her what the number one reason was for her continuing to use The Outside Guy. Her response was simply “They do a great job at a fair price and I trust them in my home”.
It can be challenging to find a contractor that understands your overall vision as to what your renovation will look like once it is completed. Working with someone you trust, and with whom you feel comfortable communicating with on an ongoing basis, can be the difference between a successful makeover or a disappointing result.
This can be avoided by following a few simple steps before hiring someone.
1. DO YOUR HOMEWORK: Always get references. Ask family, friends and coworkers who they use and what they liked or did not like about them. Check with the local Chamber of Commerce or Better Business Bureau to see if they are members in good standing, or if they have had any consumer complaints filed against them. Search the Ontario Court of Justice website to see if there are any past or current litigation suits against them.
2. INTERVIEW A FEW DIFFERENT COMPANIES: Be sure to meet with anyone you are considering hiring to discuss your project in detail. Use this time to determine if you feel you will be comfortable working with them. Do they listen to your needs and wants? How will they be communicating with you before and during your project? How will they address any issues after the fact? Ensure that they are fully licensed and operate as a legitimate business.
3. BE CLEAR AND CONCISE: Make sure you lay out your expectations up front. Know what you want your project to look like, establish a budget, and research materials and products. Use pictures whenever possible to convey the “look” you are trying to achieve.
4. BE FLEXIBLE WITH TIME LINES: Good contractors are busy contractors. Establish a timeline with your expectations for completion and ask up front when they can begin and how long they expect it will take to complete the job. If you can be flexible, they may be able to fit you in between jobs or start your project on off days.
5. MANAGE YOUR EXPECTATIONS: Like anything in life, you always get what you pay for. You cannot expect a top of the line kitchen renovation on a low-end budget. Make sure you lay out in advance what your budget will be, and discuss any overages as they occur. For instance, If you decide to upgrade your light fixtures and faucets to top of the line models, do not expect that your contractor will be able to meet your original budget.
Renovations can definitely be stressful, but with a little planning and effective communication with your chosen contractor, you and your family can muddle through the mess and disruption and go on to enjoy the results for many years to come.
The Outside Guy is a fully insured local contractor, Baeumler approved and Home Depot Pro Referral Company. Contact them for all of your renovation and landscaping needs!
Written By: Tanya Bottomley