Tips for finding and using a renovator

It is the busiest time of the year for renovations. As an Interior Decorator, one of the most common questions I am asked is “how to find a really good renovator?” Many of our staging projects require renos prior to listing. Here are some great tips!

Never pay for a job up front

First and foremost, never, ever, pay for a job up front or before the product is delivered and installed. It is common to require a deposit to book your job. Once the job is scheduled to start, again it is typical to ask for an additional partial payment. This covers materials and a portion of the labor required for the job. If the job is larger, arranging for interim payments with progresses is common. This type of payment arrangement should be discussed and agreed to in advance by both parties. A consumer should never make the final payment until they are happy with the job and both product and workmanship are to the home owners’ satisfaction. Keeping a portion of the payment back, ensures the contractor has the motivation to correct problems or replace defective products. 

I cannot count the number of times we have spoken to a home owner who gave the full amount of a project to a contractor, never to hear from the contractor again. We’ve spoken to clients who had their project on hold for months, with their home torn apart, while they waited for the contractor to return to complete the job. Kitchen cabinet companies that want full payment up front before product is delivered would cause me to look elsewhere. What if the cabinet stain doesn’t match? What if the cabinets were not the correct size? What if they caused damage to walls or flooring while they installed the product? A reputable company will make it right and do so quickly.

However, we have seen well-known companies that refuse to correct their mistakes or take months before they get around to it replacing defective items. They have your money in advance so there is no urgency for them to correct any problems. This is very frustrating for the client. It is just not in your best interest to pay someone in full before the job is done. 

Hire a reputable company

Do your due diligence to ensure you hire a reputable company you can trust. I know there are many contractors who will book an appointment for a quote and not show up. When dealing with reputable companies, this doesn’t happen. Your top reno companies keep appointments and call if they are unable to make a meeting.

Ask important questions at your interview. Will the company be hiring sub-trades? Does the company carry liability insurance and how much? Do they have Workers Compensation insurance? You can easily check if a company is registered online at . If a company is not covered, I would look elsewhere.

When you hire someone to work on your home, if they do not have insurance and someone is injured, your home owners’ insurance becomes the back up.  Many home owners are not aware of this.

We were contacted by a client who needed his project completed. He had hired a gentleman from Kijiji. The gentleman fell off the ladder and broke his leg while painting. He was not insured and was not covered by WCB. He ended up suing the home owners and their home insurance policy had to cover the claim. Saving a few dollars on a job is just not worth the hassle, problems or additional costs of increased insurance premiums. A reputable contractor will have all necessary insurance in place to protect their clients and their employees.

Ask for references

References are important! Are they a member of any associations? Ask to speak to past customers and view finished projects. Anyone can take a picture and claim it is their work. We have customers who are happy to welcome new clients into their homes to show them our past projects and fully review their experience with us.

One additional step I learned as a Property Manager was to check the Court of Queen’s Bench registry. I would never deal with a company that is regularly in court with customers or subtrades. If they have a history of multiple legal disputes, chances are 50/50 whether you could be next.

Do they offer a warranty? Did they stay firm on their price or change it as the project went on? Contracts should be in writing and agreed by both parties. Changes need to also be in writing and agreed to by both parties.

You get what you pay for

Finally, you get what you pay for! If you are “saving money” compared to other estimates you are typically sacrificing quality products for inferior products, insurance and assuming the risk yourself, or time/money. Smart choices lead to successful renovations, that are completed hassle free, on time and on budget. 

Angie Kendel is the Owner of Maximum Impact Plus and part owner of KAT Reno. Please visit our websites at or or contact us at out showroom at 1924 Main street 204-668-7500.  Happy Renovating!