Ahh The Dream Begins

So with pen in hand you begin the exciting task of making your detailed wish list, for your dream ‘home renovation project’.

Its going to be great!

Its going to have beautiful bamboo floors, with radiant heat (see info on pairing bamboo flooring with radiant heat  http://www.ehow.com/about_6572892_bamboo-flooring-radiant-heat.html ) with a beautiful skylight, and a gorgeous sliding barn door… oh how I love the look of that! I cannot wait to show off our new space!!  

I can just see it now! Dream…dream…dream…

Of course its the finished product that we are all visualizing right, not so much the process of getting there! Well Ummm YAH that’s kind of a silly question, I mean isn’t that why we fork out all that dough for, the end result? The beauty, the splendor, the pretty details and new technology we get to play with once it’s all done. Yup, I couldn’t agree more, that’s exactly what it ‘is‘ all about. After all, that is what our company  does, it makes dreams become reality, I get it!


What is Going on behind the Scene?

Are you watching your contractor every step of the way? Okay, of course you aren’t, that’s a bit extreme for the most part. It would be unrealistic to always be on top of every little thing your contractor is doing. Because of this reason we put an awful lot of trust  in that they know what they are doing and they have our best interest in mind. Right!? 

Even if you did watch them every step of the way, would you know for sure that what they are doing is right? We’ve all watched TV shows where contractors uncover terrible mistakes that the ‘other contractor’ did. How devastating it all becomes when the home owner to finds out that all of the TIME, MONEY, and TRUST they invested was all to ‘no avail’…. it all has to be re:done. Ouch!!!

Get involved with what is going on with your renovation. I am not suggesting that you be breathing down your contractors neck, that’s a bit inappropriate and there are many great contractors who are honest and really care about what they do. I am simply suggesting that you ask questions. So here are some very important questions you should be asking yourself along the way;

Be Informed

  1. Do the products seem suitable for my interior/exterior climate? Dependent on where the renovation is taking place inside our out, or both in some cases, this is important to know.  Ask for recommendations and product information directly from the manufacture.
  2. What is the manufacture’s warranty on this product?
  3. Is this project moving too quickly? Believe it or not, this can be a red flag. I realize that we all don’t want to undergo long renovations, but if your project is moving quite quickly ‘for the expected timeline and scale of your project’, there could be risk that your contractor is cutting corners.
  4. Is the work being done according to code?
  5. Do I know that they are using proper materials? Do you know if the ‘proper’ materials that they are using, can be used together (see link on bamboo flooring and radiant heat above)?
  6. Has there been good lines of communication right from the start?
  7. Do you require a permit? Does your contractor have the permit visibly located on site? REMEMBER, if you do not have a permit and something goes wrong down the road, your insurance will not cover damages!
  8. Are proper safety measures being adhered to on site?
  9. Is your contractor insured?
  10. Does your contractor have WSIB (Workplace Safety and Insurance Board) coverage?
  11. Does your contractor have a website or testimonials that you could look into of past projects? Also, are the photos on their site their own, or are they taken from the Internet?
  12. Have you sourced whether they have a good standing reputation with the Better Business Bureau or a valued score on sites such as Trusted Pros? See our personal profile on Trusted Pro’s (Total Home Trusted Pros Profile).
  13. Is your contractor providing you with a guarantee? Total Home offers a 3 year guarantee on all labour!

When it Comes Down to Price

Renovations in and of themselves are expensive… lets not try to avoid the truth of that fact. Materials alone are costly and then you add labour and unforeseen incidentals that seem to periodically find their way into the Renovation.

  • When you are pricing out the bids for your renovation, do some investigative work on the companies you are considering to hire. Social media is a great place to reference their company.
  • Look at the estimate they have provided you and be sure that you understand their prices and ask questions for clarity. It would be a shame to miss out on a great contractor simply because there might be something that could easily be cleared up with a phone call or email.
  • Go with your gut! Do you feel comfortable with this person? Your instincts are usually right!
  • On the three main price points of HIGH, MEDIUM, LOW ask yourself this; do the skills, knowledge, materials, presentation, timelines seem reasonable to the price? Does your contractor come highly recommended (view our testimonial page here Our Reviews), seems to know what he is talking about and can provide you with a guarantee of his work? You may feel that if his price sits at a MEDIUM price point, it is fair market value for the scope of work and what he has brought to the table.
  • Make sure you are comparing apples to apples with your bids. A ‘handy man’ and a ‘certified carpenter’ in most cases will bring two different qualifications to the table!
  • If you like the contractor at your consultation and your estimate seems high for your budget, ask them if there are ways that you can negotiate the price? Don’t just simply walk away, after all, some contractors factor in an allowance for fixtures and this can be adjusted according to how much you want to spend on said items. This can change the price considerably. Or, he could be factoring in a variety of variables that could influence price, that other contractors are not i.e. insulation types he typically uses, that may be of higher quality and cost. Be aware before you refuse the bid on a contractor you feel good about and comes highly recommended, for a lower bid, that at the end of the day, does not bring you ALL of what your first contractor took into consideration.
  • What is the quality of their work? Quality doesn’t cost it pays!!
  • Remember, fair market value pricing doesn’t always come at the lowest bid. A certified contractor running a professional company has overhead costs and is most likely investing in his company yes, but his product knowledge and quality tools it takes to get the job done right.
What are your renovation nightmares or success’? Have I covered some valuable points and what where they in your opinion? Did I leave anything out that should have been included in this article? Share your thoughts and ideas with us.

As always, helping you in caring for your Total Home

Created and written by;

Cindy Charbonneau

Professional Property Stylist – Designing Beautiful Interiors to Live and Sell.



Gilbert Lutes

Certified Carpenter – Building Quality Interiors and Exteriors for your Home and Business.


Owners, Total Home