Do’s and Don’ts for Choosing a Contractor

How to go about choosing a contractor is a decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly but it doesn’t have to be an intimidating one. By arming yourself with a plan, you can be sure to land the perfect contractor to execute your type of renovation.

Don’t simply rely on one positive online review.
It’s great to find a contractor with an online presence, but even more helpful to directly speak with past clients. Obtain references to validate what the contractor has told you about prior projects. Ask as many questions to a contractor’s former clients as you possibly can. Was the project completed to your satisfaction? Were the contractor and his crew professional throughout the project?

Don’t forget to tap into another important resource – word of mouth referrals.
Ask friends, family, co-workers and neighbours about the positive experiences they’ve had with contractors and see who they would recommend. Meet with two to three contractors before making a decision. Shopping around for any big purchase is key and the same rule applies when searching for a contractor. After narrowing down your list to two or three contractors, meet with them and compare the prices offered by each. Choose the quote that best suits your budget.

Don’t release more money than the materials or services provided.
If a contractor requests the majority of the project’s total cost upfront, it’s a huge red flag. Legitimate contractors will not ask for this huge portion of money right away, even if a project is large in scope or very complex. It’s key to provide payments in installments as the work is being done and the materials ordered.

Inquire about the insurance and qualifications of all tradespeople working on the reno.
Be sure to ask about the type of insurance policy the contractor has in place for his company and the tradespeople he hires for the project. As well, inquire about the qualifications of all sub-trades contractors working on the project. On this note, ask if permits are necessary in order to complete your reno.

Don’t negotiate and agree to terms verbally.

It’s very important that you request a written estimate detailing all materials to be procured and all sub-trade contractors that will be working on the project. Once you and your contractor have agreed to the terms and cost, ask that it be drawn up in a formal contract.

Be sure to ask about the status of
the project.
A contractor should always be upfront should an unforeseen circumstance arise during your renovation. If a delay occurs, or more materials are needed than previously thought, a reputable contractor will explain the situation and seek your approval. Clear lines of communication are key and a legitimate contractor will actively update you on the project’s progress.

Finally, give honest feedback to the contractor
after the project is done.
If you’re pleased with the work, offer to serve as a reference. You just might be called by prospective client’s in the future and make their search a little easier.


johnreno1John Gordon, owner of Your Reno Guys, has been a renovations contractor for 19 years. He frequently speaks at home shows and events and was featured as one of the magazine’s ‘Top 25 People in the Capital’ last year. Your Reno Guys was recently named Service and Sales Business of the Year by the Orléans Chamber of Commerce. Visit for more information about John and the services he offers.