Real Estate  Resources

Real Estate Resources

Sales Representatives "Turning Realty Into Reality"

Harvey Kalles Real Estate Ltd., Brokerage *

Email Me
Real Estate  Resources

Real Estate Resources

Sales Representatives "Turning Realty Into Reality"

Harvey Kalles Real Estate Ltd., Brokerage *

Email Me

Renovations by Design Generation. Vision.Design.Build

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Back in 2007, Ken’s renovation experience started with small repairs at home with his own hammer and a home depot book. Then gradually increasing his skill set with good old fashion trial and error. He finally found that it was easier to leave it to the experts and manage the outcome from start to finish by managing the general contractors and tradesmen for his other projects.

Speaking from his own experiences, Ken can help save you time, money and headaches when it comes to answering some of the most common renovation questions. Such as costs, contracts, timelines, storage and what to look out for when negotiating the services you want with builders, contractors or tradesmen.  Having been through dozens of renovations and inspections, he has positioned himself as a go to guy to ask about what to look out for and who you can rely on to complete your renovation on time and within budget.

Read Below about more specific renovation questions or contact Ken below to start talking about how he can help you with your renovation idea.


Questions to Ask Your Contractor

By asking your contractor these questions before you start your renovation project,  you are setting yourself up for home improvement success. It won’t take you more than 10 to 15 minutes to ask your prospective contractor these questions, and the answers should clarify your decision. You may not ask every question. But the more you do, the better off you’ll be.


Are they licensed? And will they provide proof of their general liability insurance?

It is important that your contractor be fully insured and capable of covering any accidents or mishaps that might occur while working on your project.

If your contractor is uninsured, they should not be working on your property. Remember, being licensed does not mean they are insured.

General liability insurance protects your home from damage or negligence of the general contractor, his employees, and any sub-contractors brought onto your property.

You may be a very trusting person but resist the temptation to take their word for it. For your protection, make them prove it with a copy of their insurance certificate and check the expiration dates.


What is their background and how experienced are they in the specific type of job that you need for your home?

Everybody deserves a break, but you don’t want your home to be a training ground for someone trying to learn the business.

It’s a very basic question, so don’t be shy about asking them how long they’ve been in the renovation industry and how long they’ve run their company.

Do they have workers’ compensation insurance?

Workers’ compensation insurance protects you from liability in the event a worker is injured onsite Make sure you hire a fully insured general contractor.


Will they be hiring sub-contractors?

Most contractors will use trade contractors to some degree. It is important for you to know how this will impact your project.

It’s important that you know which workers will be at your home during the renovation. You should know who they are – if the contractor will be there and any details about the team working on your home.

Don’t hesitate to ask your contractor direct questions about who will be supervising the subcontractors on site and who you should call on a daily basis with any questions.


What is a realistic timeline for this home renovation project? And is your contractor able to document a schedule?

While unexpected problems might arise as the project unfolds, an experienced contractor should be able to give you a decent timeline for completion of the project.

A schedule is more than just a start and end date. You should have a schedule that outlines tasks and completion milestones. With this, you’ll get the big-picture view of sequencing and deadlines. It will also give you concrete things to measure to ensure that your whole project is going according to plan. A good contractor will give you a daily schedule and will do their best to stick to that schedule throughout the job.

But remember, renovations always take longer than planned. It doesn’t hurt to find out what kind of future jobs they have after they complete your project. You don’t want to have them disappear to their next job and not completely wrap everything up on your site just because they have lost interest, or the other job is more of a priority.


How many projects are they currently working on?

It doesn’t hurt to know this. First, you probably want them to be a little busy. Otherwise, you may begin to question why you are the only one hiring them.

On the other hand, if they have too many jobs going on for the size of the company they have, they may be spreading themselves thin, and this could impact the performance on your job site.


Will they take care of the process of getting all of the required building permits?

Although there is some cost and additional time required for obtaining building permits, in a perfect world, you would have your contractor do this. It’s best your contractor does this. It means your project will be done according to code. With an expert handling the permitting process and setting up the inspections, your job should run smoother and in compliance with regulations.

That being said, you should be a part of the inspection. First, you want to guarantee that it happens. And, you want to hear any feedback from the building department. This will ensure that you know if there are any changes or corrections that need to take place.


Who purchases the materials?

Most contractors get discounts on materials and often, they will pass some of those savings on to the homeowner.

But you still need to define who is doing what – for example, are you responsible for picking up the hardwood flooring or is the contractor? And is this a part of the quote or not? All of this should be documented as best as possible, so it is clear who is paying for what.


What happens if they find something unexpected?

It is quite common to find something you didn’t plan for in the course of a home renovation project. For example, walls can hide a lot of problems and regardless of how good or accurate a contractor is, he or she is not a magician and cannot see through walls.

The important thing is to know who is responsible and for what.

What is the clean up going to be like on the job site?

Are they going to clean up the site every day at the end of the day? You should both define what “clean up” means, because a contractor may have a very loose definition when compared with a home owner.

And make sure there is an understanding about dirty work that must go on during the job. For example, if mudding and sanding are required on drywall, there is no getting around that fact that there is going to be a great deal of dust created. The question is, are they going to be prepping the site properly so that dust does not blow throughout your entire house. Will they temporarily seal off vents and cover doorways to limit the exposure of areas of the home that are not a part of the work site?


What is the payment schedule?

This varies from company to company, but you should never pay the entire amount up front.

According to Mike Holmes, a 10% deposit is standard, with payment instalments based on completion milestones.


What is their after service support?

A construction project usually does not end with the crew leaving the site. Ask the Contractor whether they have checklists that you’ll go over together before you sign off. And make sure some kind of process is in place for resolving any items you feel are not up to acceptable standards.


Will they provide you with written lien waivers?

Your contractor should be willing to provide you with written lien waivers for them and any sub-general contractors that worked on your project.

A lien waiver is a legal document that verifies you have paid the general contractor in full for the services rendered.


What type of communication will they be using throughout the job?

You certainly want to know that he or she is updating you about the process of your renovation. The medium of communication depends on both of you. Just be clear if you prefer emails, texts, or phone calls.


Do they provide detailed contracts?

The answer here should be a resounding yes. A true professional always work with a proper, written contract. This protects both of you and is just common sense.

A contract should detail a clear project plan and identify what you and your contractor have agreed to.


A written contract should include the following:

A full description of the work, including the materials and products to be used.

Dates when the work will start and be completed.

A clear payment schedule that lays out when and how much you will be charged.

What lien holdbacks are required.

The contractor’s warranty detailing what is covered and the duration.

Confirmation that the contractor has business liability coverage for your project, and that required Workers’ Compensation coverage is in place.



What to watch out for

Below are some things to look out for when talking or negotiating with contractors.  Remember the old adage “you get what you pay for”.

Contractors that give free Quotes

A quote is a breakdown of a job that includes general estimates on like as demolition, framing, drywall, painting, carpentry, flooring, electrical, plumbing and HVAC. The quote is supposed to give you an idea of what a job will cost. A good contractor is busy and will charge you for a quote rather than advertising one for free. Why? Because a good contractor is a busy. They don’t have a lot of time to stop what they’re doing and give a proper quote, so when a client is willing to pay for a quote, it lets the contractor know that they are serious. So, be wary of those contractors who offer free quotes.

Cheesy One Page Estimates

A quote doesn’t provide you enough information to make a serious decision.  You want to see a detailed estimate before hiring someone, and that will cost you too as they take time to put together.  A detailed estimate is pages-long and should list every aspect of a renovation. Everything from materials being used to what permits (if necessary). It will help you make the right decision when selecting a contractor because it helps you when comparing others. Why would one contractor charge you $55,000 for your renovation and another charge you $35,000? It could be the brands they’re using, or the materials. Also, some contractors will undercut (be cheaper) the other quote in order to get the job because price is lower.  Then halfway or three quarters through, they’ ‘ll come to you for more money saying they ran into issues or problems and cannot finish for the quoted price. SO… either you pony up the money to finish or go through the process of finding or sourcing another contractor to finish. So don’t settle for a flimsy, one-page estimate and be skeptical of extremely cheaper ones.

Doesn’t Work With a Contract

It is up to the contractor to supply you with a contract that has every detail about the work that will be completed on your property.  The contract should include timelines, estimates of all materials being used, a list of all sub-trades, what happens in the event of a change order, and a payment schedule tied to milestones or stages, not dates.   A contract should also contain information about the contractor, like a clause showing proof of insurance so if they get injured while working on your home, they’ll be covered by their own insurance. Another piece of important information is the contractor’s business number or GST/HST number. You can use this number to search the CRA registry to make sure their business is registered. A contractor is not a contractor without a contract. Get it in writing down to the last detail, like “a showroom finish” product


A good contractor should not ask for more than 10% as a deposit.  Any contractor who doesn’t have enough money or stock to get a job started is a clear indicator that business is not good. Why would a contractor need money today to start tomorrow’s job? A deposit or retainer only serves one purpose – it’s a security measure for the contractor and lets them know that you’re serious about the renovation. So a contractor who asks for more than 10% is a definite red flag.


Referral sites can be good tools to use when researching a contractor, but don’t just trust what you read. I’ve heard stories of people being burned by a contractor who goes belly-up, even though the contractor had stellar reviews on a referral site. You need to research the referral site too. Who writes the reviews? Does the website do background checks on the contractor? Are they recommended by other pros in the industry? If you can, pick up the phone and contact a client directly. Keep in mind that experienced contractors don’t just need referrals; they need a few good jobs under their belt, insurance, integrity, and a network of professionals. Word gets around fast; research beyond the 5 stars on a referral site.

Do some research and pay attention to the above. Protect yourself and the money you’re investing in your renovation. Plan it right, hire the right professional.

Click the here to review a reputable company that I believe meets the above criteria.


How much can I expect to Pay?

Estimating renovation costs can be very challenging as there are so many variables to consider. Things like the material quality (standard, premium or luxury), quantity needed, the labour to install and clean up are just to name a few.  The best way to really get it close is to get 3 quotes/estimates. You can get a ball park by multiplying the square footage of your renovation space by a quoted dollar amount per square foot by a contractor. So an example would be: ABC contractor tells me his typical charge for a premium kitchen is $300/sq ft.  Lets say your kitchen renovation project is 20 x 20 sq/ft. So, 400 x 300 would be $120,000.

If your interested in learning more, call or email me and we can talk about what your renovation might look like and put you in touch with the right people in order to make it happen.


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