When undergoing a renovation of any scale you should get at least three estimates. The estimate or consultation is similar to an interview - you need to ask about their experience with similar projects, view their ‘befores and afters’ and ask for suggestions or alternatives to obtain the best value and quality. Your working relationship with a contractor will greatly impact your satisfactions with the renovation experience and the end results.

As a homeowner you are entitled to review the Contractors insurance policy and get references from their previous clients. All Contractors (and sub trades) should have business liability insurance and workers compensation for all employees.

You need to provide a detailed description of the project to ensure an adequate comparison of bids. If you ask the contractor to choose the layout and the finishes you will have drastically varying quotes.

The written contract should include a number of items:
  • a detailed quote for both labour and materials
  • a valid HST or business number
  • an exact price (excluding any hidden deficiencies)
  • a written warranty
  • an outline of who is responsible for obtaining permits

When making structural changes a building permit is needed – make sure the Contractor informs you about all necessary permits (before the work has started) Building codes are designed to protect home-owners, without permits structural work completed will not be covered by your house insurance and may be ordered to be taken down by the City.

There are often changes in a contract due to hidden deficiencies or additional work. Hidden deficiencies are defects that are not visible from the surface such as an inadequate sub floor or faulty wiring behind a wall. The Contractor is responsible to inform you of any deficiencies as they arise, and the terms and price are agreed upon in a written change order form.

Once you have received all the bids make sure you understand all aspects of the contract prior to signing. When comparing bids you need to look for the best overall value not the lowest price.

For information on planning a renovation visit: Canada Mortage and Housing Corporation

For more information on building permits visit: City of Sault Ste. Marie



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