When it comes to your kitchen renovation, finding the right contractor can be a real puzzle. Not to mention remodelling this central room involves a significant investment of time and money. It is therefore crucial that the process runs as planned, and the final product is flawless.
That being said, before you start on the first steps of your project, taking the time to research carefully your renovation contractor can save you serious problems along the way. The first thing to do is to get at least three quotes from different contractors so that you can compare them. Once you have a few contractors in mind, it’s time to filter out the unsuccessful candidates. Here are five questions to ask a contractor before hiring:
1. Are you Licensed?
In Quebec, contractors are required to have their RBQ licence; it’s the law. It gives the buyer a minimal level of protection. For example, if the workers abandon the project, their RBQ licence will allow you to be compensated. We recommend you not to take the contractor’s word for it; it is best to go to the RBQ’s website to check the validity of the licence and to make sure it has the same name as the one on your contractor quote. In Ontario, Alberta, and British Columbia, a licence or permit is required only if the renovations require new insurance coverage (with the exception of Toronto, where a permit is necessary for certain types of renovations).
2. Can You Please Provide References?
Getting references from former clients is an excellent way to see if a contractor’s work will meet your expectations. Many contractors will have a portfolio to look at, if not, don’t hesitate to ask for photos of kitchens that they have renovated in the past. The most important thing is to make sure that the references are legitimate. Request contact information of previous clients, and call them to ask about their experience. You can even ask the contractor to take you to view a completed project in person. By doing so, you can see if the work will meet your expectations, and thus avoid disappointments.
3. Do You Work With Subcontractors? Who Are They?
A kitchen renovation often requires electrical work, painting, plumbing, or masonry, and the contractor is allowed to hire subcontractors to fill these tasks if they don’t already have the proper staff in their team. Sometimes, this can be a problem, for example, if you chose a certain contractor for their expertise in a particular area. In extreme cases, contractors will pass the whole project off to another contractor, never to be seen again. Ask for information about the subcontractors that will be hired, and the tasks they will be doing in your kitchen. That way you will be protected against bad surprises.
4. Can you Provide a Copy of the Contract?
A written and signed contract is essential. Not having one is problematic not only in the case of a lawsuit with the contractor but also if there are any unexpected events or changes to the plan during construction. Without a contract, you are powerless. Your kitchen renovation could, for example, take three months instead of three weeks, and without a contract that clearly states how long the project is expected to take, the contractor has every right to impose this inconvenience on you. The more detailed the contract is, the more you are protected if something goes wrong. The contract should include:
- The guarantee.
- A description of the work and the materials to be used.
- Payment terms (down-payment, installments, etc.).
- Timeframe (how much time the work will take).
- Consequences of not meeting the deadlines (costs, late fees).
- End-of-project agreements (debris collection).
5. Do you Have Liability Insurance?
While the work is being carried out, if, for example, your home is damaged by an accident, or if somebody is injured, the contractor’s liability insurance will protect you in terms of civil liability. Ask to see the contractor’s insurance certificate and do not hesitate to call the insurance company to make sure that it is in date and valid
6. What kind of materials do you use?
It is recommended to check with your contractor the type of materials used. This will greatly influence your budget and the life of your kitchen. There are even rankings of the best materials, countertop, ceramic and cabinet. For example, here are Main Line Kitchen design’s Kitchen Cabinet ratings for 2017.
Smart Reno has already approved many contractors for you. All the contractors in our network have an RBQ licence and insurance that have been verified. Use our search tool to find the right partner for your kitchen renovation.
SmartReno can help you find the right contractor for your Kitchen project