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You vs. The Pros: How to decide who will handle your home renovation

Darpan, 07 Feb, 2014
  • You vs. The Pros: How to decide who will handle your home renovation
Maybe it’s the leaky pipe in your basement desperate to be fixed or the blue bathtub and matching tiles just screaming for an update. It may be a kitchen transformation, an office addition or a dining room redo. Whether it’s a baby on the way in need of a new room or a change in scenery thanks to a fresh paint colour, the many reasons to renovate your home bring about an abundance of decisions before your new beginning can even begin.
 
One of the biggest decisions to be made, after determining a renovation is feasible and necessary for both your lifestyle and your budget, is how your house will transform into the home you wish it to be. Of course, pipes, paint or the perfect pillows mixed in with some money and muscle will change your home but proper planning before taking down walls or tearing out toilets will save homeowners time, money and a whole lot of hassle.
 
So where to begin? For some handy homeowners, taking on a remodelling project is a chance to show off their skills. However, there are some who think tools are only a way to get a word count and calling a contractor may be their only option. While the size, difficulty level and scope of your project may help dictate which route is best for you, deciding how it will happen is an important step in ensuring a successful renovation.
 
Homeowners no longer need to go far to find an abundance of tips and tricks to complete countless home renovation tasks. A quick search online for do-it-yourself home improvements produces a long list of tutorials on how to do everything around your home; from painting clean lines to building basement stairs, homeowners no longer need to be experienced to have a hand in their reno. 
 
Online videos and demonstrations by experts offer tips and techniques that give many beginners the knowledge they need to complete almost any home improvement project. Without having to hire a home repair expert, professional advice and expertise is available at the click of a mouse.
 
 
Adding to the ease of do-it-yourself home improvements is the cost savings that often comes with not having to hire help. Labour costs can add up quickly, leaving homeowners with hefty bills for services that they can often do themselves. Without researching the cost savings (or lack there of), homeowners can end up paying much more depending on the project. Conversely, paying a professional can certainly be worth the extra money if the project will be completed quicker, safer and with more precision.
 
Working on your own home leaves you free to work at your own pace and at the convenience of your own schedule. Waiting on developers or taking time off work won’t be an issue but keep in mind you may find yourself working at a much slower pace than the experts, especially for those learning as they go.
 
While DIY can be enjoyable and budget friendly, hiring a professional is highly recommended, especially for large, complicated projects or for those not confident in their abilities. The Greater Vancouver Home Buyers Associate recommends hiring a contractor for home renovations as they will help get the most value for your investment and provide peace of mind during a potentially stressful procedure. Contractors come with an in-depth knowledge of the construction process as well as the tools, skills and resources to get a job done efficiently and to code.
 
While it may be tempting to take down a wall on your own, certain projects should always be left to the professionals. “Tasks that are a liability” should be left to someone else, Marcel Studer, principal at Econ Group Ltd. says. “The homeowner should stay away from it if he or she is not 100 per cent sure how to do it; structural framing, roofing, electrical and plumbing”.
 
Consulting qualified professionals may help avoid costly mistakes as they bring the expertise that most DIYers lack. Contractors, designers and construction professionals are there to draw up plans, obtain permits, coordinate colours, and complete specialized tasks among many other things. Hiring a contractor or specialized professional takes the guess-work out of an important investment, saving homeowners both time and stress.
 
Homeowners can be guilty of forgetting essential steps, doing them at the wrong time or just being unaware of the complete building process. Having a contractor can ensure these oversights will not happen. Studer notes that one of the biggest mistakes DIYers often make is trying to cut costs by buying cheaper materials. The wrong materials or poor quality supplies often lead to added costs – ones which the homeowners were trying to avoid in the first place.
 
Taking on a large home improvement may be too big of a jump for a beginner. By starting small, DIYers can determine what they are capable of and what they may feel confident in doing themselves. Without an idea of how much you really can and should do yourself, hiring a contractor will help answer any questions you may have and provide you with the confidence that your house is in good hands.
 
For some, the pride of doing the dirty work yourself is often worth more than the difficult days or lengthy time lines. For others, the price of peace-of-mind that comes with a professional can’t be beat. It may come down to saving money versus saving a headache but, before you proceed with your home renovation, ensuring you’ve done your research and made the right decision will end up saving you both.
 
 
Questions to Consider Before Hiring a Contractor
 
Do they have at least three references from previous clients?
 
What is their background or experience?
 
What certifications do they hold?
 
Do they specialize in the work you want them to do?
 
Do they carry workers compensation and liability insurance?
 
Will they provide you with a clear contract, billing structure and schedule?
 
What kind of warranty do they provide?
 
Will they allow you to visit a current job site?
 
Will they be using any subcontractors?
 
Will they take out all required permits?
 
Do they conduct themselves in a professional manner?
 
Do you think you will be able to work well with them for the duration of your project?
 
Don’t be afraid to ask questions – your home is a large investment and reputable contractors shouldn’t hesitate to provide you with the answers. And remember to get it all in writing!

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