Hiring the wrong contractor can turn your home-reno dream into a nightmare. Here’s how to hire the right professional for the job

By Bryan Tuckey, Toronto Star

The term “a fresh start” can be interpreted differently by different people. Some consider it an opportunity to close the door on an existing routine and develop a more productive one. Others may view it as an end to a pleasant, comfortable setting and a challenge to create one that is equally secure.

When it comes to renovation, I like to think that the interpretation is a mix of the two. The excitement of seeing your home get an upgrade and increase your quality of life, not to mention property value, is often balanced with the realities of budgeting, timing and quality of work.

With a home renovation, you don’t have the option of letting the things naturally fall into place. You are putting your home into the hands of a contractor, with the cost of fixing his mistakes potentially outweighing the cost of the renovation itself.

This is why it’s important to hire a professional contractor for your renovation needs. My recommendation is to consider members of the RenoMark program founded by the Building Industry and Land Development Association.

All RenoMark contractors have agreed to abide by an industry code of ethics as well as a renovation-specific code of conduct.

As you collect names of suitable renovators, you need to think about how you will judge the renovators you choose to interview. Start by looking at:

Presentation: Professional renovators operate in a business-like manner. They respect your schedule and show up for appointments on time. They are organized and deal with your questions and concerns directly.

Communication: Renovation is a “people business” and good renovators are good listeners and communicators. Professional renovators must “translate” your ideas, goals and budget into a workable plan and a pleasant experience.

Skills and experience: It takes years of experience in the business before most renovators are ready to manage a major project on their own. It also involves a lot of different types of work, some of which require specialized expertise. Whatever the scope and nature of your project, your renovator needs to have solid experience.

Professional reputation: Established renovators will provide you with references from previous customers and, in fact, you shouldn’t even have to ask for them.

Renovating your home should be a positive experience – free from worry and stress. You should have full confidence in your renovator and know that you are getting the best, from start to finish.

Bryan Tuckey is the president and CEO of the Building Industry and Land Development Association.

First published in the Toronto Star on  July 7, 2012.

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