Watch out for red flags
Renovating? Where do you start? What should you be looking for?
There are so many things to consider.
Begin, first of all, with a RenoMark™ renovator. In this issue, you will see why that’s important.
Here are some of the most important things to understand:
These are meant to protect both you and the contractor and to make sure you’re on the same page. They should clearly define:
- A minimum two-year warranty on all work
- The contractor’s liability insurance, which must be, at minimum, $2 million
- Workplace safety and employers’ liability
- All the applicable licenses and permits
- The contractor’s education, training and professional development
- How the workshop will be kept safe and organized
- A promise to return calls within two business days.
Contracts are something you should read very carefully. Make sure you understand everything that is written. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
If a contractor does not have a contract, this is a red flag right from the start. Communication is critical. Know exactly what’s included in the price of your renovation.
If your contractor is not offering a warranty in writing, this should also be a red flag. My first question to that would be “Why?” All RenoMark™ renovators will give you at least a 2-year workmanship warranty. Some of your products may come with their own warranties as well. For example, the renovator will not warranty your new furnace but the manufacturer will – assuming it was installed properly and by a licensed installer.
This is for you. If your renovator can not provide a certificate of insurance to prove coverage, move to the next one. You want to make sure you’re protected from liabilities imposed by lawsuits and similar claims.
Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB)
Not only is this required by RenoMark™; it’s also required by law. This is something you can check online. You can search to make sure your renovator is eligible, which means they are up to date with their WSIB payments. Your renovator should also be checking to make sure all their sub-contractors are registered. Ultimately, if your renovator is not with WSIB, it could come back on you. As a renovator, we are responsible to make sure our sub-contractors are covered; and, as a homeowner, you should make sure your renovator is in good standing.
Licenses and Permits
I’m a licensed carpenter; however, it’s not a requirement by law. Anybody with a truck and a tool belt can call themselves a carpenter or contractor – which is a little scary. This is why is so important that you make sure you’re doing your due diligence.
Check to make sure sub-contractors, such as the electrician, plumber and HVAC contractor have all the appropriate licenses. Confirm that the appropriate permits are being pulled for your project. Yes, there’s a cost for this, but it’s not something you want to cut corners on.
The City of Ottawa will inspect things like structural, insulation, plumbing, finishes, etc. The Electrical Safety Authority (ESA) will inspect the electrical, and Enbridge will inspect new gas meter hook ups. Make sure your renovator is providing you with all the inspection forms for your project.
It seems like a lot of work and money. But we’re talking about one of the largest investments of your life – your home – so I believe it’s worth the time and money to do it right. Cutting corners or going with the lowest bidder will often take more time and cost more money in the end (not to mention the headaches along the way).
The right contractor will make this process as streamlined as possible, make sure you know what you’re getting, and lay out the potential speed bumps that lie ahead.
Chair, The Renovators Council of the Greater Ottawa Home Builders’ Association and the local RenoMark™ program
CEO, The Conscious Builder, Inc.