12 Keys to Success When Hiring Contractors for Your Home Renovation Project

Hiring a Contractor - quinju.com

We all hope our home renovation projects to go perfect.  Following the following 13 keys of success when hiring contractors will help ensure your project is a success. 

1/ Make Your Project “Uniquely You”:

Before you hire a contractor, take some time to get “inspired”.  Dreaming starts as you walk in a store, visit a friend’s house, flip through a magazine, search the internet, or read interesting articles. The more ideas you consider the better.

Quinju.com can help you collect and organize your unique ideas from any source, anytime.  

While your contractor can be a very good resource when making project decisions, only you have the power to make your project “uniquely yours”.

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2/ Hire the Right Contractor: 

  • The Right Contractor is experienced in doing projects like yours.
  •  The Right Contractor has a reputation of being reliable and are strongly recommended by their  past customers.
  •  The Right Contractor shares your vision of your renovation project 
  •  The Right Contractor has a system of communication that keeps you informed and involved in  your project.
  •  The Right Contractor is available when you need them or is worth waiting for. 
  •  The Right Contractor make your feel confident that your renovation project will turn out perfect.       

3/ Maintain Good Communications:

A good system of communication should:

  • Keep you informed and involved in your project, even when you’re not there
  • Provide a quick and easy way to share thoughts or ideas
  • Provide quick answers to your questions and concerns
  • Provide quick and easy access to your project information anytime and from anywhere
  • Be simple…allowing you to communicate from anywhere, at anytime
  • Save time
  • Record all your communications for future reference
  • Allow you to include other people in your conversations.


4/ Carefully Define Your Project:

Not all products or ideas are right for your project. Start shaping your project by eliminating those products and ideas that are not right until you are left with the products and ideas that are right. 

If you hired the right contractor they should help guide you with these decisions, however don’t under-estimate the power of knowledge!  Remember, your contractor is hopefully a good resource, but they will be focused of the products and ideas that are right for them not what is right for you and your project. 

5/ Do Your Homework: 

Success is not a game of luck. It is a combination of knowledge and attention to details. 

Not all products perform the same or last as long.  Doing some research; downloading manufacturers specifications; watching installation videos; reading consumer reports; talking to experts; searching for deals…will all help ensure your home renovation project is a success. 

6/ Put it in Writing: 

A wise man once said, “the more writing, the less fighting”. 

Most home renovation contractors are very good at what they do…but writing detailed contracts or agreements is not what they do well.  Often their contracts are very vague, providing little detail on what is included in the agreement and what is not.  The terms on the contract usually offer more protection to them than it does to you. 

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Should you have a dispute with your contractor, what is written on the contract will determine whether you win that dispute or loss. If you are not satisfied with their “Agreement”, don’t hesitate to write your own Agreement and have them sign it.

A good agreement should include:

  •  The legal names and addresses of all parties involved in the agreement
  •  The address where the work will be performed
  •  An approximate timeline of when the work will be performed 
  •  A detail list of the work to be performed and the specific products to be used.  If plumbing is involved, are they using copper pipe or PVC? What type of fittings?   Should it comply to building codes?
  • What products are included in the agreement and which are not.  You need to be specific here.  You may be responsible for supplying the floor tile for your bathroom, but who is supplying the cement, grout and sealer?
  • The method products are to be installed.  You can include support documents in the agreement, like Manufactures Installation Guidelines.
  • Include a list of any drawings, designs, pictures, etc. that clarify the expected outcome of the project.
  • The payment terms of the Agreement and when each payment is due.  Payments should be based on progress of the project.  No progress…no payment. You have the legal right to hold back 10% of the contract for 45 days or until proof that all workers, sub-contractors, suppliers and professional services have been paid.
  • Is the contractor required to get specific permits and inspections?
  • Protect you and your family in the event of injuries to workers or damages to your home (see #8).

While I still value the importance of a good firm ‘hand shake’, it does not replace the need for a detailed contract or agreement. Clearly communicating expectations will make everyone happier.

Not only should your Contract be in writing, so should any changes or conversations throughout the project. It is a good practice to follow up and conversations or meeting with a e-mail outline what was discussed and agreed upon during that conversation or meeting.  Not only will it help ensure your contractor communicates any changes or decision to people involved in the project, it also provided proof that the verbal agreement was made.

7/ Don’t Set Unrealistic Expectation for Your Contractors.

No one is perfect…everyone makes mistakes.  Don’t judge them on their mistakes, judge them on how they deal with their mistakes. A good contractor will not promise that problems will not occur during your project…but they will promise to fix them should they occur.

8/ Record Everything:

You never know when you will need to access your project information.

Quinju.com has an organized structure that facilitates the collection, storage, and organization of all your valuable project information and then ensures you have fast and easy access to your information anywhere, anytime.

9/ Protect Yourself:

There is only one person responsible for protecting you…and that is you. 

You must be diligent in ensuring:

  •  All contractors are properly licensed
  •  All contractors have adequate liability Insurance
  •  All contractors are covered by WSIB (Workers Safety Insurance Board) in good standing 
  •  All workers have received the required safety training (WHIMIS, Fall Restraint, Equipment                    Certificates, etc.).
  • All workers, sub-trades, suppliers and professionals used for your project are paid prior to                                          paying your general contractor. 

10/ Stay Alert:

Look for signs of trouble:

  •  Sudden lack of communication
  •  Contractors / Worker’s not showing up when expected 
  •  Work progressing much slower than expected
  • Unexpected change in contractors / workers
  • Workers asking questions about things they should already know
  • Contractor asking for money before they should be

If you sense there is a problem brewing, stop all work and activities until the you have a clear understanding of the situation and a solution has been agreed upon.                 

11/ Attention to Detail:

This is your project!  You have the right to demand the work be done to your expectations.  It is much easier to fix deficiencies in workmanship or design during the construction than it is to wait until the project is completed.

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12/ Create an Archive of Your Project:

quinju.com stores all your valuable project information, including project details, pictures, product specifications and warranties for future reference. Imagine the Book of my house available for you anytime, anywhere!

13/ Provide an Honest and Fair Evaluation of Your Contractors Performance:

While no one likes to get negative feedback, honest and fair criticism should ultimately improve their business but do it tastefully.  Try to point out some of the good things they did as well as the things that could have been better.


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