How to Hire an Experienced and Licensed Contractor or Builder
Owning your home is one of the largest investments that you will ever make. When the time comes to build, renovate or remodel, choosing a licensed contractor and builder is important. In our jurisdiction all you need is a business license to be a renovator and you need to be a licensed builder in order to build new homes. To help you understand the process of hiring a professional, we broke down the steps you should follow when hiring a contractor or builder.
The first thing you need to decide is what type of contractor or builder you need. Is this a new build or a small renovation? Are you adding a room? Are you installing something new? Once you figure out the type of build or renovation you are doing, it will help with the hiring process.
You want to make sure that you don’t hire the wrong person, for various reasons. It’s important to stay away from cash deals, especially where there is no written contract or receipt. Many things can go wrong in these situations such as: unfinished and sub-standard work, accidents in your home, injured workers, and you won'y have a warranty. You can learn more about this on the CHBA website.
We recommend that you follow these steps before hiring a contractor or builder:
Step 1: Research
The first thing that you should do when wanting to hire a builder or contractor is do your research. One of the best ways to hire someone is to get a referral. Ask your friends, family, neighbours and coworkers who have they used in the past and ask them about their experience. You should also check out different websites of companies and explore Houzz. It’s important to read reviews but sometimes those reviews should be taken with a grain of salt.
Step 2: Interview
Once you have a short-list of the contractors or builders that you are interested in hiring, set up a time to interview them. CHBA has a lot of useful information about this process and we agree with the following information from CHBA:
It is important that you are comfortable with your contractor, that you trust them in your home, and that you have confidence they will complete the project as promised. If you don’t feel that way, you probably shouldn’t hire them. We believe there should be a "fit" between the builder and owner.
The best way to determine your comfort level is with a thorough an interview. In addition to whether they are able to do the job, you need to obtain the following information:
Their qualifications: How long they have been in business, how the company operates (e.g. using their own staff or subcontractors), and their experience with similar jobs.
Their references: Obtain contact information for at least three of the contractor's past customers with projects of similar complexity."
In addition we think that you should ask questions about the estimate:
Their estimate: Ask how they develop an estimate. Ask how accurate is the estimate and if they will guarantee the estimate. Ask when your project will be started and finished.
For a full list of questions to ask during the interview, click HERE.
Step 3: Verifying Licensing
If you are building a new home it’s important to verify the builders licensing. The best thing to do is to ask the contractor or builder what licensing they have. A new home builder must have a valid "Builder License" which is issued by B.C. Housing.
Ask if they belong to an industry association such as:
The Canadian Construction Association
The Canadian Home Builders’ Association of British Columbia
The Independent Contractors and Businesses Association
The Urban Development Institute of British Columbia
A local or regional association of one of the associations listed above
An educational body or professional organization, whether in B.C. or another jurisdiction
Also, you can find who is registered with CHBA on their website.
Step 4: Collecting Quotes
The price of your renovation or build will be important. Determine the amount you are willing to spend and make sure the quote from the contractor or builder is all inclusive, including a specification identifying which materials they will use. Sometimes you need to alter your budget after a few conversations with the contractors/builders, and that is normal. It's not uncommon to go through a few iterations before arriving at a budget and scope that will fit your needs.
Step 5: Hiring / Get it in Writing
When you are ready to hire your contractor or builder make sure to GET IT IN WRITING. This means that you should have a written contract before the project begins. You can learn more at www.getitinwriting.ca.
If you are looking to build or renovate, our Peak Ventures team wants to talk to you! You can test out these steps on us and we can answer any questions that you have.