Tips for successful renovation project:
Our living space is very important to our physical and mental health, lifestyle and happiness.
The amount of time we spend in our homes or workplaces each day, our daily activities and the air we breath in these rooms, have a direct impact in our lives, businesses, and relationships with people surrounding us.
It is essential to everyone to take the right steps to keep their living spaces healthy at the same time environment friendly.
A number of steps can be taken to achieve this goal outlined later in this piece, but first I would like to mention a few words about the fear and anxiety of dealing with contractors for renovation; a fear that holds many people back from taking steps toward improving their living spaces.
Here, I will explain the steps one could take toward a renovation job with minimal risks. There are challenges in each project, and in order to deal with them in the proper manner requires patience and knowledge. I hope the following will help you to get the necessary knowledge and confidence for your next project.
1- Identify your needs and write them down. Writing down or drawing a plan will help you memorize the changes you wish to implement and present it to the potential contractor for quotation.
2- The following improvements are considered a small project: changing windows; redoing the kitchen counter and floors or bathroom retrofit; painting; replacing the handrails or guardrails; replacing the floor covering; curtains and blinds replacement; crown molding baseboard and casing addition or replacement; painting; insulation addition; re-roofing; doors replacements; closet addition; repairs on the facade of the building; changing heating system or hot water tank; changing gutter and down pipes; repairing fascia boards or window trims; adding solar heater; redoing the drain tiles. Usually, they do not require city permit and it’s much easier to deal with:
- If you are the kind of person who wants to do things by himself or herself, all you have to do is to buy the material for the best price, get the tools and roll-up your sleeves. You might as well call up some friends to give you a hand. Either you’ll be proud of your work after it’s done, or you’ll get tired and will hire a contractor midway through.
- If you don’t want to experiment your ability to do things, follow the following steps: first, investigate about the product you would like to install by searching online; visit department stores or invite designers or contractors to offer their opinions. If you want to hire a designer they will charge you for their opinion, but you’ll get more professional result and you’ll minimize the risk in your investment. However, some contractors have design ideas that could help or have a designer on-board which can help on the process. Many contractors don’t charge fees to come up with the quote but some do. Make sure to ask before hand to avoid surprises.
Choose a contractor:
You can find a contractor from many different sources: phone books, Google, online directories, websites offering leads, word of mouth, mail in advertisements, offers and so on. But remember to interview them face to face and make sure they are on-time in their interview and sharp about the scope of work.
What you need to know before getting in a contract: make sure the contractor carries WCB, construction liability insurance and has good referrals. Contact their referrals and make sure they are happy with his or her work. Being member of an association is not an added value, anyone can become a member of an association by paying their membership fees including BBB. You can check their standing in BBB to make sure the contractor doesn’t have a claim. Make sure they already have or will obtain the municipal working license.
Explain to the candidate contractors about what is in your mind and listen to what they propose. Each person has different ways of doing things, some could fit your job, some not. What is common in this industry is that everybody wants to criticize others for faulty workmanship in order to keep themselves ahead of competition. You be the judge and choose the one you feel has the most experience. Please don’t hire the least expensive contractor unless s/he gives you a valid reason why his price is the lowest.
When you receive the quotes from different contractors, make sure their work, material and designs are same and compare them accordingly.
If you have more than one task or trade to deal with, then hiring a general contractor over individual contractors is recommended.
A general contractor has better access to trades and material with better price and is responsible for each trades’ job. When you hire trades separately, you have to be the manager for their scheduling and their work. This would need building knowledge to know the chronological order for each trade.
The scope of work and finishing materials have to be discussed and recorded in the contract.
Make sure the contract covers the following items:
Contractor (name of company) ______________________________
Telephone __________ Fax ___________ E-mail _______________
Business Number ________________________________________
Telephone __ _______Fax ___________ E-mail ________________
Project address (if different from above)________________________.
Description of Work
Scope of work and details of material, if any drawings available refer to the drawing.
The Work does NOT include the following
Terms of Payment
The Contract price is to be calculated as follows (select one):
(i) Stipulated fixed cost basis (all inclusive) $__________________, plus applicable tax Payments shall be due and payable as outlined in the Payment Schedule.
(ii) Cost plus ______________% of cost, plus applicable tax Payments shall be due on a bi-weekly _______ or monthly ________ basis (check one).
(iii) Cost plus fixed fee of $_______________________, plus applicable tax
Changes in Work Utilities and Washroom Facilities
Owner reserves the right to let separate contracts in connection with the Work or to do certain work by Owner’s own forces as specified in Description of Work.
The Owner and the Contractor agree that in the event of a dispute as to the interpretation of this Contract or the extent of the Work, the issues shall be submitted to arbitration as agreed to by both parties or under the province’s arbitration statute.
Default by Owner
Default by Contractor
Since the payment method is laid out based on stage of work, make sure each stage of the job is been achieved before make the stage payment.
It’s wise to hold back a percentage of the payment for a short period of time to make sure the final job meets your expectations. This is an arrangement between you and the contractor. If you get a good relationship with him so you can trust him, it might not be necessary.
3- the following changes are considered to be as major improvements and needs a few more steps to take before starting:
Addition of a garage; addition of a room over the garage or any kind of extension vertically or horizontally; adding windows to the side of the house; removing any wall in any floor to create open space; adding kitchen in to the basement or adding a suite to any floors; adding bathrooms, adding deck or balcony; covering the existing entry; adding bay windows; adding load to heating system or hot water; adding load to electric pane or adding new one; adding window well for basement windows; adding new stairs or removing one; adding a car port or a covered patio.
Since some of the work above requires professional involvement, the municipality would like to see a permit has been issued for such work. It’s recommended to discuss with the building department of your municipality to make sure there are no objections to your project.
Next, talk to an architectural designer, certified building designer or a certified interior designer who is familiar with the zoning of your area. It’s easy to spot one and their price ranges are similar (except if you hire a draftsman or a college student, in which you pay less for less expertise).
In order to apply for a permit you need the filled application form from the municipality along with a drawing. Your drawing must include the following with proper scale: site plan, floor plan of the house as existing, floor plan of the house as proposed, elevations, cross sections and details. In cases that your project is dealing with structural load such as removing walls or adding floor area, a signed and sealed structural drawing with schedule B1-B2 will be required. In cases that your project is dealing with site work, set-backs or height, a signed and seal survey drawing from a certified survey engineer will be required. (the scope of work for survey engineer is differs in every project. Make sure your designer and survey engineer are in sync with the city requirement to avoid over paying.
A good designer can help you with introducing the structure engineer and survey engineer.
Municipality will take your application and drawings to check against local building code and municipal zoning and will issue the permit after you paid the appropriate fees.
Meanwhile the permit application is in process, you can interview your prospective contractors for quotations. In these kinds of projects having a general contractor is recommended and is a huge plus. The rest of the steps are similar to the section b mentioned above.