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3 Necessary Steps Before Making Home Improvements

Whether you’re renovating the entire house, updating your kitchen or installing a new home theatre, here are three things you’ll want to do before you get started.

1. Get INto the details

Your project may seem quick and easy, but make sure you’ve gone through the details before you start. For example:

Know the goal of your project. For example, if the goal is to increase the resale value of the home, make sure you don’t add too many expensive improvements that you’re unable to recoup the cost.

Will you need a specialist or a permit? Even DIY-ers often need experts such as plumbers and electricians. Also, many seemingly small projects need permits before you can begin.

2. find the right contractor

One of the best ways to find a contractor you can trust is to ask friends or family for recommendations, then check for customer reviews on services like Home Stars. Lastly, check for any complaints from the Better Business Bureau.

If you’re not sure the contractor is the right one for the job, here are some questions you can ask:

• What kinds of projects do you specialize in?

  • Do you use subcontractors? If so, how are they chosen?
  • Can you provide proof of insurance to protect you and your other workers?
  • Do you have customer references?
  • Are you bonded to ensure the job is completed on time?
  • Can I see your Certificate of Liability to make sure your insurance limits are high enough for my project?
    • Their limit should be as high as the value of the project. For example, if you’re building a $3 million home, the contractor should have at least $3 million in liability coverage for any one occurrence.

3. Review the remodelling contract

Make sure you understand and are comfortable with the remodelling contract provided by your contractor before you proceed with the project. You may even want to have a lawyer look it over to make sure it covers what you need. For example, make sure the contract does not contain a section on “waiving your right to subrogation” — if the contractor is negligent and you had signed a waiver like this, you couldn’t recover your losses from a third party if there is a lawsuit.

Here’s what a contract should include (at a minimum):

• The details of the project.

• Start and end dates, including interim dates for multi-phase projects.

• Information about permits, licenses and inspections and who will be responsible for obtaining them.

• Payment amounts, due dates, warranties and guarantees. Experts recommend never paying more than one-third of the total project cost up front. Check with your province or local municipality for their regulations.