By Francie Healy

You’re thinking of a major renovation. It’s a big decision, perhaps a turning point in your life.

How on earth do you find a first-class renovator?

All the experts warn, over and over again, not to hire just anyone. The worst thing you can do, say too many frustrated victims of renovation scams, is to sign someone up because they offer you a “sweet deal”.

Most homeowners find the renovator of their dreams by first doing their homework. They get to know what kind of people will be spending time inside and outside their home. They find the people who fully understand the project they have in mind, people with long experience and excellent references, people they can trust right to the finish line and beyond.

Researching renovators can take a lot of time, but so it should. The stakes are too high not to.

One helpful step in the “homework phase” is awaiting you Sun., Oct. 18 from 11am to 4 pm.

It’s Ottawa’s first annual RenoMark Renotour, presented by the Greater Ottawa Home Builders’ Association. Several renovators will be holding an “open house” at seven recently-renovated homes in Ottawa, and will be on hand to chat or answer questions. All proceeds from ticket sales ($10 each) will go to Habitat for Humanity for Greater Ottawa; so besides learning about participating renovators, you can add your support to a well-respected community organization.

One of the first things you might notice in your research is that many of the best renovators are members of RenoMark™. This is a program that guarantees a high-quality, finished, safe professional renovation. When renovators sign on to RenoMark, they’re pledging total excellence, from the work they do to the kind of people they choose to work on your site. Each renovator is unique in approach, personality, taste and interests; but no matter who you choose, if that renovator carries the RenoMark logo, it’s a true statement that you will be happy with your renovation.

RenoMark protects both sides: homeowners and also the many reputable renovation companies whose reputations stand to be harmed by unscrupulous people calling themselves renovators and therefore casting a shadow on the entire profession.

RenoMark renovators have the experience, the insurance, the ethics, the skills, the best tradespeople. And they are constantly upgrading their knowledge through ongoing training sessions for new products and techniques.

Although you should still research and interview potential renovators for your project, the first criteria should be that they are RenoMark members. You’ll know they’re members when you’re visiting their website or looking at their ads, because you’ll see the RenoMark logo.

What is RenoMark™?

RenoMark™ is a program that renovators pay to join. They must follow strict rules. These rules are made public to homeowners, who are advised to be sure any renovator they might hire carries the RenoMark™ logo.

RenoMark™ renovators are held to the highest industry standards. They have to do the big things – carry $2 million liability insurance and enforce strict workplace safety – and the smaller things that give you comfort: pledge to call you back within two business days, for instance.

In addition to insurance, safety and courtesy, they must:

  • Give you a detailed written contract for all jobs, big or small
  • Provide a minimum two-year warranty on all work except minor repair
  • Carry the proper licences and permits
  • Keep their worksite organized and safe
  • In the Ottawa area, be a member in good standing of the Greater Ottawa Home Builders’ Association (GOHBA) and abide by the GOHBA Code of Ethics.
  • Stay current, through consistent and continuing education, in their professional knowledge of building codes, permit procedures and technical skills.

For more on choosing a renovator, see “The Last Word” by Herb Lagois in this issue.