The writer is a member of the Canadian Home Builders’ Association (CHBA).
This homeowner hired a friend-of-a-friend for a basement renovation and to do some exterior refinishing. Although no contract was signed, an advance payment was made to the “contractor,” and he started work. The basement was gutted and the resulting debris piled in the backyard. The exterior of the home was partially replaced, and then everything ground to a halt.
We’re not sure exactly what the “last straw” was for the homeowner, but when we got the call the basement was unusable. Water was entering from the unfinished window wells, the exterior renovation was botched and the backyard was so full of construction debris that the owners’ children had nowhere to play. Fed-up, the homeowner was looking for a reputable firm to fix and finish their disastrous renovation.
How did this happen?
This common mistake is made by many homeowners when looking to have work done: they ask friends and acquaintances if they know someone, but once they get a name, all the rules of how to hire a good contractor are forgotten. A casual referral by a friend is not a substitute for doing your own research. You need to interview the contractor, ask for a formal price quotation, get a detailed contract with a work plan and payment schedule, ask for references and follow them up. You need to research and make sure the contractor is qualified, does business properly, and is someone you can confidently work with.
Our company went over to survey the situation and estimate the cost of the work needed to finish the job. When we heard their story, we had two of our crew come right away with a truck and trailer to clean up the backyard – even though we weren’t yet hired. By the end of the day, the kids had a safe place to play, the backyard was no longer an eye-sore, and our potential new client was left with a pretty good impression of us.
Afterwards, we provided a detailed price quote to fix and finish the work and entered into a contract with the homeowners. We explained that it was our busy time of the year, but they were prepared to wait for quality work and the family is happy with their basement renovation.
A story like this can happen to anyone; it’s very easy to fall into a bad renovation if you don’t get the right contractor from the beginning. Learn how to do it by following the recommendations of the Canadian Home Builders’ Association: www.hiringacontractor.com