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Chronicles of a Home Renovation Project: Choosing our Contractor

Last modified: 2020-12-08 | Approximate reading time 6 mins

Léa Plourde-Archer

We have been working more seriously to go forward with our renovation project for about a month and a half. It should be noted that the work needs to start in January and be completed around the beginning of March, so we don't have any time to waste!

Even though there are 2 months left before the official launch of the project, we must make sure that everything is ready on time and that there are no potential delays once the concrete steps of the project are launched.

The good news is that we have chosen the contractor who will be carrying out the work! In this article, you will learn how we chose this contractor and what our criteria were.

If you haven't read the other articles in this series, click here.

How we chose our contractor for the renovation project

The process to find a contractor with the RenoQuotes.com platform is very simple. You just have to fill out the form describing the main elements of the project, while mentioning some useful information such as the approximate budget and the desired dates. The project is then sent to the contractors in the network and those who are available and interested will accept the project.

We had two contractors who wanted to bid on our project. In general, the platform aims to refer between 2 and 3 so that we can compare in-person impressions and quotes. As soon as the contractors accept the project, the client (us) receives an email with the name of the company and the information that the latter has put in their profile, including photos, examples of services offered and links to their websites and Facebook pages, where applicable.

Storage room during the renovation

Our storage room where we keep the furniture that we will donate and the boxes that will be used to store our goods.

Meetings with the contractors

Very quickly, we set up face-to-face meetings (while respecting social distancing measures) so that the contractors could assess the project in person. As this is a large-scale project, it was more difficult to organize remote evaluations. Both meetings went well.

In one case, the meeting lasted about 45 minutes and we looked at each room with the contractor, talking about the different options and looking at the plan created by the interior designer and her colleague.

The second meeting didn't last as long but was still very interesting. We appreciated having a different point of view on certain aspects of the project.

Once the meetings were over, we had to wait to receive the detailed quotes to be able to compare what the two contractors were offering.

How we analyzed the quotes

In all transparency, we did not receive two quotes. After the face-to-face meeting, the second contractor told us that he did not have enough time to carry out the work before March (which was important to us). Therefore, we only received one quote.

The contractor with whom we signed a contract presented an estimate that was not excessively detailed, but which presented an amount for each type of service offered, as well as the total price according to the work we are currently planning to carry out. We are aware that this amount may vary over the course of the project, as we are faced with the reality of the work. However, this allows us to confirm that we will be able to respect our budget.

Example of renovation quote

Have we paid a deposit?

Of course, the contractor requested that an amount be provided for the deposit. He asked for the equivalent of 20% of the total price written in the quote. This amount is used to reserve our place in his schedule and to cover certain expenses that may come up before the work even begins.

For more information on deposits, here is an article you should not miss:

General contractor or specialized contractor?

This is a great question, and for this project, we quickly determined that we preferred to use a general contractor.

The general contractor is a kind of conductor who organizes and oversees the work. They make sure that all the steps are connected in a logical way and they have easy access to the names of contractors for most types of work.

If we had instead opted for specialized contractors, we would have had to act as worksite managers, organizing the schedule, the budget and getting in touch with the contractors ourselves.

For a large-scale project, we felt that it was much easier to entrust the task to a general contractor, especially given that the work should last no more than two months! If we had had a looser schedule, perhaps we could have been tempted to manage everything on our own, but we preferred to opt for a mostly turnkey solution. It is slightly more expensive, but since we will save time, the excess amount we will have to pay will be worth it in our opinion.

Of course, we will still have several responsibilities, including the purchase of certain materials and preparing the house before the work starts. However, it remains simpler than if we had wanted to manage the site from A to Z.

To learn more about the differences between general contractors and specialized contractors, click here!

The other things we've been working on lately

In addition to finding our contractor, we also checked several other boxes in our list of things to do before work begins. Here are the most important points:

Finding a place to live 

While the work is being carried out, we will have to live elsewhere, because our entire home will be transformed by the contractor and his team! It would therefore be impossible to stay here unless we agreed to live in a construction site. With three cats and a remote job, that simply isn't possible.

We looked for a place that would welcome us during the 2 months planned for the duration of the work. The search process somewhat complicated, because we had to find accommodation where animals were allowed. In the city, this kind of requirement is not always easy to fulfill. Many landlords forbid animals, for fear that they will create permanent damage to furniture and surfaces.

Luckily, we were able to find an apartment with a flexible and welcoming owner! We will therefore be able to move into furnished accommodation, located between our condo and the office. I was anxious to be able to resolve this housing issue, so I'm very happy we got that taken care of!

The cats

2 of our 3 cats, who don't know what to expect

Finalizing the plans with the designers

In the previous article, we talked about our meeting with interior designer Valérie Bourget and her colleague Mathilde Robin. To this day, we still exchange emails about once a week with the team, in order to finalize the plans, the material choices and the answers to any questions we may have before the work begins. 

For example, the girls prepared an elevation plan for the kitchen and the bathroom to simplify the purchase of furniture and materials for these rooms.

We were also able to determine some necessary changes to the electrical plan, which will be very useful when providing the final plans to the contractor.

Kitchen elevation plan from Vivre Autrement

Source: part of the kitchen elevation plan created by the designers at Vivre Autrement

Making a few purchases and creating lists

Even though I slowed down the pace of making any purchases, especially for furniture and decorative accessories, I bought some nice items like posters that will be used to decorate the washroom and the bedroom.

We also created several lists that will be used to organize our next purchases:

  • List of things to donate (furniture and appliances)
  • List of materials to buy
  • List of things to buy from IKEA
  • List of things that remain to be done on my side

Preparing for the renovations

This other room also serves as a storage area, with among other things the objects and materials that we will be bringing to the eco-centre very soon.

What are the next steps?

You may have heard of the shortage of building materials that is going on right now. We see a lot of stock shortages at hardware stores and large furniture stores like IKEA.

Therefore, since we want to avoid delays once the work has started, we need to buy some essential materials including kitchen cabinets, flooring and backsplashes in advance to make sure we have everything on time.

In the next article, I plan to tell you about our meeting with an engineer.

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