By John Herbert
Try Googling “Ottawa renovator” and you’ll get almost 100,000 search results. How do you know which ones are reliable, professional and have the skills to get the job done? Choose one of the 47 renovators which are members of the Greater Ottawa Home Builders’ Association (GOHBA) and are recognized as RenoMark contractors.
The home renovation business is booming in Canada. Canadians spend $64 billion dollars a year on home renovations, outpacing the purchases of new homes. The renovation sector accounts for four per cent of Canada’s GDP.
On average 40 per cent of Canadian homeowners renovate each year, spending $15,000 per renovation. While these figures may come as a surprise to some, they shouldn’t. “For most of us, our homes are our most valued investment. On top of that, Ottawans love their homes,” explains John Herbert, Executive Director, GOHBA. “The popularity of television programs, magazines and websites dedicated to new homes, design and home renovations speaks to our love of home decoration and development.”
With all this home renovation activity, it’s hardly surprising we hear more and more stories about projects gone wrong, contractors disappearing with money and the stress that bad renovations causes people. The GOHBA gets two to three calls every month from homeowners with non-member renovation problems.
Every renovation is a unique project – no two are alike. This poses challenges for both the contractor and for the homeowner. There’s often pressure on the homeowner to make fast, mostly irreversible, decisions. With older homes, renovators often face unexpected challenges and issues. Renovations are prone to go over budget, and homeowners would be wise to have a 20 per cent contingency budget.
The benefits of hiring a RenoMark contractor
RenoMark contractors are bound by a code of conduct
Ottawa’s RenoMark contractors abide by a renovation-specific national code of conduct, supported by the Canadian Home Builder’s Association and by GOHBA’s own code of ethics. This states that members shall deal honestly and fairly with customers and shall avoid misleading or deprecating advertising.
RenoMark contractors provide detailed written contracts
One of the most important keys to a successful renovation is planning. Before starting any work, a RenoMark contractor will prepare a written contract with a detailed scope of work (SOW). An SOW describes the renovation work to be performed and lists all milestones, reports, deliverables and end-products along with a time line for all deliverables.
RenoMark renovators provide warranties for their work
When you use a RenoMark renovator you will receive a minimum two-year warranty on all work, excluding minor home repairs. With renovations, a warranty is a written guarantee promising to repair or replace the renovation within a specified period of time. This will give homeowners peace of mind when choosing a renovator.
RenoMark renovators have proper insurance in place
Every RenoMark renovator is required to carry a minimum of $2 million liability insurance. This protects homeowners in the event that someone is injured on their property as a result of the renovation project. This insurance can also be counted on should a renovation project result in damages to neighbouring properties.
RenoMark Renovators are also required to have coverage for workplace safety and employers’ liability too. And all subcontractors must have proper insurance and workplace safety coverage.
RenoMark renovators are knowledgeable professionals
Homebuilding is a highly-regulated industry. These regulations are both municipal (City of Ottawa zoning by-law) and provincial (Ontario Building Code). A RenoMark renovator has up-to-the-minute knowledge of all regulations. RenoMark renovators understand how to shepherd applications for building permits and approvals through the approvals system. They are competent and experienced in working with municipal staff – crucial knowledge in getting renovation projects completed on time and within budget.
John Herbert is the GOHBA’s executive director