The keys to any successful renovation are careful consideration and preparation and working with a professional.
The first step in ensuring that your renovation is a success is understanding why you are renovating. Are you renovating to improve the value of your home for a quick sale, or are you doing it to improve functionality and increase your enjoyment of your home?
Another critical early step is to hire a professional renovator. The easiest way to know they are a professional is to ask if they are part of our national RenoMark program. BILD created the RenoMark program in 2001 to help GTA homeowners differentiate professional renovators from underground contractors. The program has been so well received that it is now used to distinguish professional renovators in nine provinces and more than 40 municipalities across Canada.
RenoMark renovators abide by a renovation-specific Code of Conduct, which includes things like providing a written contract, offering a minimum $2 million in liability insurance, providing two years warranty on all work, and having all applicable licenses and certificates.
Many renovation projects require you to obtain permits, which can a complex process that can take several months. A professional renovator will know what permits are required for your renovation and they will know how to get them.
Some renovations require architectural or design services while others require an engineer. Such services are necessary to obtain building permits and should be factored into your budget. Your renovator will know what services you need and give you a pretty good idea of what the rough costs of the project would be.
When it comes to budgeting, set aside 10 to 15 per cent of the project cost as contingency. Changes during the process are not uncommon, and they can impact the cost and timing of the job. Just make sure you and your renovator agree on how potential changes will are handled.
A detailed written contract is vital to a successful renovation. Your contract should clearly outline the scope of work, project timelines, payment schedules, warranties and how to handle any changes. If you don’t sign a contract, chances are that you’re not working with a professional and will have no legal recourse should you receive substandard work.
Professional renovators also have legitimate business licenses, are insured and offer warranties on their work. They regularly attend educational seminars and courses to stay ahead of the curve and keep their knowledge and skills up to date. That means they know about any changes to the Building Code or municipal requirements.
Talk to several renovators and interview them before deciding who to work with. Find out what kind of experience they have doing similar work to what you want done. Ask for references and if they are members of a professional association.
Your renovator is your partner in realizing your vision for your project and you need to work with someone that is right for you. Visit www.renomark.ca to find the right RenoMark professional for your project.
Bryan Tuckey is President and CEO of the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) and is a land-use planner who has worked for municipal, regional and provincial governments. He can be found on Twitter (twitter.com/bildgta), Facebook (facebook.com/bildgta) and BILD’s official online blog (bildblogs.ca).