Don’t forget you’re the boss in renovation
IKNOW I’ve said this before, but it’s pretty clear to me I’ve got to say it again because either you are new to the renovation world or you just aren’t listening.
You need to take responsibility when you are looking for a contractor. You are the boss. A lot of homeowners just check out when it comes to their renovation. They are too willing to hand over the control of the project to whomever they hire. You need to stay involved in the decisions made, in how the job is progressing, in any problems that arise. You need to own it.
I’m not saying get underfoot, or in your contractor’s face — that leads to a whole other set of problems on your job site. But you can’t just hand over the reins and hope the horse doesn’t run away.
To be in control of your renovation, you need to have knowledge. Knowledge is power, so you need to empower yourself and learn as much as you can about the materials, products and methods your contractor is using. How is that fabulous bathroom being built from the inside out?
Choosing the cabinets or fixtures or tile is important. It’s fun to play around with design and colour. But the quality of your finished project — how long it lasts and stands up to wear — is not going to be determined by the finish.
What kind of subfloor is being put down — OSB or plywood? What’s being used on top of that? A tile underlayment, I hope. Or is it wire mesh and cement? Why? What’s behind those wall tiles — cement board? Regular drywall or green board? I sure hope not.
If you don’t do your homework before the job starts, then you won’t know what you are looking at. You need to know the difference between products, and why certain ones are the correct ones to use for your particular application.
Obviously, you are going to get an estimate, but don’t make your decision based on price alone. You need to price the job based on materials and methods used. If your contractor’s bid is higher than the next guy, but he’s going to put in premium materials and do the job right, then that price starts to make sense.
You need to look for value, not just price.
The guy with the lowest price might not understand the project. He may be inexperienced and not really know the scope of the job. He might underestimate the time it’s going to take to do the work. He may just be undercutting the other guy.
When you talk to your prospective contractor, ask questions about your project. Ask about their experience doing that kind of work, what are possible options for how it could be done. Ask their opinion of what you’d like to do.
As professional contractors, they should have ideas and suggestions they can give to make it work better or give you better value for money. I’d think twice about hiring a guy who just shrugs and says whatever you want.
When you look at the price, think about what they’re bringing to the job. What are their skills? How long have they been in business? How willing were they to offer advice?
Be sure to check references. Are they happy with the work done? Did the contractor finish on time? On budget? Did he keep a tidy work site?
Recently I’ve had emails from homeowners who say they are thinking of hiring some contractor and the guy has either said he knows me, or he’s worked with me. In one case, the guy even said he used to be a business partner of mine.
I’ve had people tell me their contractor claimed he talked to me during their renovation and checked on how to do the job right. Or worse, that he’d said, “Mike always does it this way,” when it’s something I never do.
I’m happy these homeowners are checking references, that’s the good news. Not so good that the contractors they are thinking of hiring are lying.
You’d be surprised how many people don’t actually follow up on the reference check. They’ll ask for them, but not even call, much less actually see any work. This is a huge mistake.
If you’re a homeowner planning a renovation you need to educate yourself, find the right contractor, check references and take responsibility. Be the boss, it’s your home.
The buck stops with you and you’re the one paying those bucks to get the job done.
— Canwest News Service
MikeGs advice when it comes to renovations: To be in control of your renovation, you need to have knowledge. Knowledge is power, so you need to empower yourself and learn as much as you can about the materials, products and methods your con
tractor is using.