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How to Avoid a Renovation Disaster

32 Must Ask Questions Re-cap

By John Liptak, CEO & President, OakWood

The 8-part blog series, “How to Avoid a Renovation Disaster”, reveals how customers make assumptions that lead to six big (and often costly) mistakes. Each blog shares “must ask” questions you can ask to avoid being taken advantage of by a dishonest or unqualified renovator. Here is a re-cap of all 32 Must Ask Questions to ask when hiring a contractror.

Part 1: The lowest price saves me money

  1. Does the renovator specify all products and materials by brand, model, and finish?
  2. Has all work and tasks associated with the project been included as a line item in the quote?

Part 2: A short quote is all I need:

  1. Will the renovator provide a written fixed-price proposal with a fully itemized breakdown and price guarantee for the work specified once your design is complete?
  2. Will the renovator include scaled drawings for the work being done?
  3. Does the quote include applying for and purchasing all Permits including: building, plumbing, and electrical permits?
  4. Does the renovator guarantee in writing the price they have quoted is the price you will pay unless you request changes in writing?

Part 3: Lots of experience means quality work:

  1. How many years has the renovator been in business under the current name?
  2. Does the renovator have a minimum of ten years of experience designing and building renovations in the City of Ottawa?
  3. Does the renovator provide a list of client references for relevant projects that you can call and visit?
  4. Can the renovator provide you with a current project site that you can visit?
  5. Does the renovator meet the elite standards of the Greater Ottawa Home Builders Association Renovators Council and does it abide by its strict members’ code of Ethics and Business Professionalism?

Part 4: If the contractor offers a warranty I’m protected:

  1. Does the renovator provide a minimum five-year warranty on labor and installation with the option to extend this to 10-years?
  2. Will the renovator guarantee that all work will meet the Ontario Building Code and, as required, be reviewed by a City Inspector?
  3. Does the renovator abide by the Ontario Tarion Warranty protection guidelines applied to home renovation projects?
  4. Does the renovator provide a satisfaction survey at the conclusion of your project – and will final payment be conditional on your complete satisfaction?

Part 5: Written references are all I need:

  1. Is the renovator a member of the Ottawa Better Business Bureau with an A+ rating and zero complaints?
  2. Is the renovator a member of the Greater Ottawa Home Builders Association Council?
  3. Does the renovator meet the elite standards of the Greater Ottawa Home Builders Association Renomark ™program?
  4. Has the renovator won any major industry awards such as the Consumer Choice Awards (for Best Home Designers and Home Renovations company), or Ontario Home Builders Association or Ottawa Home Builders Association awards?
  5. Can the renovator show examples of designs and completed projects for relevant renovations with before and after photos of the actual completed renovation?
  6. Does the renovator offer an in-house design service with 3D-renderings so you can see what you are purchasing?

Part 6: The contractor’s financial stability won’t affect my renovation:

  1. Is the renovator a member of the Ottawa Better Business Bureau with an A+ rating and zero complaints?
  2. Does the renovator you have any company debts that could place your project at risk (i.e. what does a search reveal)?
  3. Does the renovator maintain the $5 Million of Liability, Commercial Auto and Workers Compensation Insurance and will their insurance agent send you their certificate directly?
  4. Does the renovator have a letter of good standing from their business bank – and can you call them if necessary?
  5. Does the renovator provide a statutory declaration of protection – the most important protection for homeowners?
  6. Does the renovator maintain business accounts with local suppliers and are they in good standing?

Part 7: Your #1 key success factor: planning

  1. Does the renovator have licensed Interior Designers & Architectural Technologists with BCIN & LEED certification on staff?
  2. Does the renovator use a professional CRM Project Management system with Gantt Charts to control every phase of your project?
  3. Does the renovator review a pre-construction checklist with you in your home prior to start of construction?
  4. Does the renovator have a company policy to return phone calls within two hours of receiving a message and maintain a 24/7 emergency line?
  5. Does the renovator provide start and completion dates in writing for your project?

John Liptak is CEO and President of OakWood, an Ottawa-based renovation company. Established in 1956, OakWood is a fourth generation family run business. Under John’s leadership, OakWood has grown to become Ottawa’s largest and most established full service renovation business and Ottawa’s first and only Mike Holme’s approved renovation partner. A winner of numerous awards, OakWood has been voted Ottawa’s Best Home Designer and Renovation company every year since the Consumer Choice awards were introduced in 2007.