It's quite easy to overlook the process of home improvements before we start a renovation in our own home.
Flipping through the latest issue of your favourite "Style at Home" magazine with its glossy pages, mesmerizing tastefulness, and artful design can be an impressive and an equally forgettable experience.
Although your home improvement project can turn out to be as aesthetic as that bathroom you spotted in a magazine, don't forget that renovations are journeys in themselves to reach a final, beautiful product. It's important to have grounded expectations when you approach your next home improvement project. While areas like quality service, honesty, and good workmanship deserve our high expectations, it is important to keep in mind essential components to the home improvement procedure to save you frustration and energy.
3 Things to ensure before diving into your project
1. Decide on a contractor who is licensed, ensured, and can deliver quality service, honesty, and workmanship.
Without the proof of your contractor being licensed and insured, don't bother going any further. You need to protect your home and family from any issues that can arise from hiring someone with no credentials or qualifications. Moreover, with amazing resources at your fingertips like TrustedPros, you can find a contract professional with a solid track record, proven excellence, and fantastic quality with clear proof in reviews, photos, and a TrustScore. TrustedPros is an excellent resource in determining which contractor can deliver what they claim and which cannot. Do your research so you know what to expect, and what you will be paying for.
2. Establish rules for the job.
Creating on-the-job-rules before you hire (or even meet) a contractor will help you secure a working environment that you are comfortable with. This rings true for a number of reasons:
- Your rules will help you find a contractor who aligns with your values
- The ball will be in your court if timeline and job decorum negotiations arise
- You will set the stage for work performance
- Clear rules set beforehand will help you avoid getting taken advantage of in the future
Bear in mind that choosing a reliable contractor sets the stage for how the project will play out. Nevertheless, nobody has a crystal ball!
Always remember that it is inexcusable for contractors to be absent unless there are extenuating circumstances. Like any office employee, your contractor should show up at the daily agreed upon time until project completion. Responsibility as such can be easily detected on your contractor's TrustedPros.ca profile.
3. Understand how to pay your contractor properly.
You must understand that payment goes to a contractor for completed work! Never jump into a contract before reading about your provincial consumer protection laws. Most provincial consumer awareness websites have clear information specifically about signing contracts and paying contractors.
Do not pay a contractor a huge sum of money up front--always remember that! If you need an example for clarity, read this story about a contractor who left a house in shambles and ran off with the homeowners money.
A contractor asking you to shell out a large sum of money upfront is a red flag. Making sure that you have a detailed contract can go a long way to avoid tumultuous contracting nightmares.
3. Take advice from industry experts because they have worked in the industry.
A review in 2012 by The National Post showcased Mike Holmes' opinions about good and bad contractors. Holmes explains that "Pros don't need a lot of money up front. They don't live week to week. They just need about 10% of the total cost of the job to secure their time and your work", and TrustedPros agrees. Your contractor should be confident enough in his/her work that they don't need to gouge your wallet in case things don't work out. Any sensible established business owner should have enough capital to cover some of their losses along the way.
4 Things to expect of your home improvement project as it happens, because let's be honest, a smooth and perfect ride is unlikely.
1. There will be construction mess.
Demolition is usually in order when it comes to renovations. You should expect dust, debris, and unsightliness. However, you should also expect that your contractor takes care of this mess in a respectful manner within the home by using plastic sheeting, drop-cloths, and padding. Address any unique concerns before construction in a clear manner to avoid unnecessary frustration. If you fail to do this, you may establish unfair expectations about the project. This may create tension between you and your contractor. Consider the following:
- Moving furniture in your home to avoid damages and dust collection
- Establishing which rooms in the home the crew is and is not able to access
- Water and utilities usage rules
- Appropriate parking for the crew's transportation
- If you prefer certain projects done in your garage rather than in the house (with a power saw, for example)
2. Timeline flexibility.
Your project can run over schedule, especially if the work you are having done is dependent on weather conditions. Weather related setbacks accompany landscaping, home addition, and roofing projects. Another setback is back ordered or damaged products. Minor setbacks such as this can happen and can extend the project length, but more major setbacks and unexpected issues can extend the length of your project too. You may even want to move out of your home during large reno projects to avoid setbacks interfering with your life.
However, be wary of contractors that push project timelines to extend on and on.
3. Price differences and fluctuations happen.
Be sure to plan flexibility into your project with a 10% to 20% contingency fund to avoid monetary issues.
Keep in mind that products you see in magazines can cost differently depending on your location; make sure that you are not building expectations for prices coming from an American magazine. Moreover, principles of supply and demand for products can change their value (i.e. oil, and unique marbles).
Materials that you saw on TV or in a home magazine can cost much more than what you anticipated. Companies donate materials in exchange for advertising. Factoring this into your price expectations can be helpful. Items featured on TV may be generated by ratings and advertisements. This enables shows to use expensive materials and contractors at lower rates. Hiring a contracting company you see on TV with the expectation to pay a similar price can quickly disappoint when an 'affordable' job triples in price once you take it on.
Additionally, the price you receive for a particular project may be higher than your friend's project done in the same year.
There are many underlying circumstances that can change the cost of your project such as the complexity and quality of your existing plumbing, your home structure, and desired materials.
4. "Measure twice, cut once".
If you develop expectations about the price of the total project, the timeline, and style, and then decide to make major changes midway through your project, you set yourself up easier for disappointment in more ways than one. Expect that changing your mind can cost you more time and money.
Measure twice by doing thorough research about products before you purchase them. For example:
- Read about the pros and cons of deck materials and their relationships to each other to really know the ins and outs of your project.
- Use the Home Renovation Guide to inform yourself about the relevant material.
- Inform yourself about the best products and experts who can exceed your expectations and give you what you pay for.
'Cut once' by thoughtfully and resolutely renovating--once.