5 Things to ask a renovation contractor before you hire them

Sep 20, 2023, 04:00 AM

When you hire a contractor to renovate your home, you want to feel confident they will do a great job. Moreso, you want to ensure a positive experience and a good return on your renovation investment.

Unfortunately, too many homeowners have stories to share about contractors who let them down. From shoddy work to unfinished work to a final bill with surprise costs well above a contractor’s original quote – finding a trustworthy contractor can be a stressful experience!

RenovationFind helps connect homeowners to reliable and honest home improvement companies and contractors. As an established resource in the home renovation industry, they share five questions to ask contractors before hiring them to work on your home.


Can I see your business license and insurance?

Whether you’re looking for a roofing contractor or the best painters in Calgary, it’s crucial to check for credentials before you hire anyone. First and foremost, you want to ask the contractors you’re considering for proof of valid business licenses, proper insurance and WCB coverage. If a contractor doesn’t carry these, it puts you and your home at risk if there is an accident, injury, or damage.

“You would be shocked to learn how many ‘contractors’ operate without insurance or a license. A legitimate company will have these credentials and won’t have a problem showing them to you,” said Keith Riley, Founder and CEO of RenovationFind.

Some jobs require specific certification, like electrical or plumbing, to comply with building codes. In addition, your homeowners’ insurance policy will not cover damage caused by work not done by a certified electrician or plumber.

RenovationFind.com offers a free online directory of pre-screened and certified home improvement companies. They’ve done background checks on every company on the listing, including licensing, liability insurance, and WCB coverage. In addition, RenovationFind’s third-party screening process includes legal and financial background checks. That ensures the company you hire is in a good financial position without any legal complaints.


Can I speak to a few of your past clients?

A lot of homeowners spend time reading online reviews before hiring a contractor. The issue here is that online reviews are not always reliable. Unfortunately, they are sometimes exaggerated or even fake in the home renovation industry. Online reviews can give you an idea about a company, but it is still vital to ask for in-person references. You want to talk to actual people about their experience with a contractor. Do this before you collect quotes. It’s one of the best ways to determine a contractor’s reputation.

“When asking for references, try to get their three most recent jobs. That way, the company can’t pick and choose their best jobs, and you’ll get a better idea of their work and what it would be like to work with them,” shared Riley.


What is your experience or specialty?

You want to ensure the company you’re researching specializes in what you need to do in your home. For example, if you need to have your poly-b plumbing replaced throughout the house, you must find the best plumbers in Calgary who offer that service. Not every plumbing company will.

When it comes to major renovations, you want to hire a company with years of experience. Renovations are expensive, and you don’t want your home to be one of the first a company works on. That extra experience brings knowledge, troubleshooting and problem-solving skills, and established relationships with other trades and suppliers in the industry.


Do you offer warranties?

A contractor who backs up their work and products with great warranties is a good choice. When contractors offer excellent warranties, they believe in their work and products. You will also feel confident about hiring them, knowing that if anything goes wrong, they’ll be back to make it right.

Many contractors, including the roofers, window companies, and best HVAC contractors in Calgary, will offer manufacturer warranties on their products. In this instance, you might have to work with the manufacturer directly to resolve issues. Some manufacturer warranties can also be transferable from one homeowner to the next. These details are worth asking and researching when doing these home upgrades.


Can I have that in writing?

When asking for estimates from contractors, you want to get everything in writing. Unfortunately, dishonest companies have added surprise costs and fees to the final bill, and homeowners were unprepared for it. You want to work with a contractor who is completely transparent about pricing from the beginning and offers clear communication.

An honest company will provide a detailed quote in writing. It should itemize every aspect of your job, including costs for materials, supplies, products, labour, and permitting fees. In addition, you should also get a contract in writing. Never let someone work in your home without those things.


Finding a trustworthy renovation contractor

RenovationFind.com is a great place to start your search for a renovation contractor or home services company in Calgary. As mentioned, every company on the directory has cleared rigorous background checks. Plus, RenovationFind employs a third party to continually monitor the certified companies, ensuring they remain compliant with their high standards.