22 Nov Who is Responsible – “Due Diligence”?
As an industry professional, I never want to hear bad things about my industry, however, I hear far too many horror stories about home renovations gone wrong; everything from a project that was scheduled for three months that took twelve months to complete to a contractor who never showed up and kept the deposit. These problems hurt my industry and I would like to eliminate or greatly reduce the likelihood of them happening to you. The following article will provide guidance on how to protect yourself from creating your very own renovation horror story.
For starters, you should know that not everyone who calls themselves a “contractor” has the carpentry skills and professional qualities required to operate a successful company. There are virtually no barriers to entry in the residential renovations or building industry; no requirement for experience or professional qualification, no licensing in most provinces, Nova Scotia being one of them, and minimal oversight by any authority. If you have a business card, a name on your truck, and possibly a website, you can call yourself a contractor! This extremely open industry allows for increased potential for dishonest or incompetent persons operating renovation or construction companies. Therefore, it critical you as homeowners to complete your “due diligence” before hiring a contractor.
Often, people are taken advantage of because the average person is uninformed, naive, or too complacent when hiring a renovator. Home renovations are a significant expense and require you to spend your hard earned money, so you should do your “due diligence” and make sure your potential contractor is actually capable of completing your project. It is the client’s responsibility to protect themselves against disreputable people.
Another common mistake clients make when selecting a renovator, which can lead to disaster, is hiring based on low price. Looking at a project through the rose coloured glasses of low price can make it difficult to see the thorns. Here’s a quote I stand by: “the bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten”. It is important to be realistic! In an ideal world, every contractor should give you exactly what you what you request for the price they quoted, however, realistically, in order to experience a smooth renovation process, it comes down to who you select to complete the job. You should base your decision on reputation, skill, quality, and price, without hyper focusing on one aspect. Often, clients will question a high price but never the low price when, in reality, the high price is often most accurate. While studying engineering, we discussed the low bid system as being flawed because it rewards cutting corners and, more often than not, the low bidder actually forgot an important detail or simply made a mistake. Select your contractor based on qualifications first, then price, not the opposite.
It may appear challenging to find a professional renovator but here are a few steps to facilitate the process:
· Google search the company and check out the website & social media links! A reputable company will likely have a solid online presence and several reviews on platforms like Facebook or Google which will help with your research.
· Check for company association memberships! Confirm whether the company is involved with any associations such as the Canadian Home Builders, Better Business Bureau, and Chamber of Commerce. All are indications of professionalism and commitment to a higher standard.
· Confirm the company is professionally operated! The company will have a GST number, a safety certification, warranty, and insurance (WCB & Liability). A professional will have all of the above and will provide you copies upon request.
· Ask for references! Make sure to call a few of them and ask one simple question: “would you hire them again?”. Listen to their answer because most people will tell you the truth.
If you follow the above process, you will find a reputable and professional renovator! Be prepared to pay a little more for the service of a professional because, in the end, it will be worth every cent as it will significantly reduce stress during your renovation project.
I hope you find the above comments helpful and they guide you through a successful renovation project. Hiring a professional is the first step!
Dan Monk, P.Eng. / Red Seal Carpenter
Owner – MONK Renovations