Don’t for­get you’re the boss in ren­o­va­tion

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - HOMES - MIKE HOLMES

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.

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