If you’ve ever actually sat down and searched ‘renovation contractor North Van’ you know you’re going to get an absolute ton of results. A metric ton.
This differs from searching for other services in your area like barber shops, butchers or specialty stores. Why? Because these types of businesses require a store front, and there’s not that much prime real estate for prime rib. The reason you see so many home improvement companies in your area is that most of them are likely a home based businesses, and if the do have store front or a design center (rare), it’s doesn’t need to be on the main drag.
So you have a lot of options when you’re looking for a contractor – and you’ve heard the horror stories. So here’s how to choose the best contractor from the list, without just looking at reviews.
Cross Reference Reviews & Ask Around
What ever you, don’t rely on one point of truth for information about your contractor. If you find a contractor online, that has good reviews and a nice website, try searching their company name too. Look for negative reviews on other sites, check our The Better Business Bureau and make sure they’re not in the news for a bad reason.
If you’ve narrowed your search down to a couple of renovators, ask your neighbours if they know of their work and their customer service.
Check The Important Stuff
When looking for a renovation contractor, you want to get down to brass tax as soon as possible. Most people don’t know exactly what to look for or how to look for the technical stuff, so here’s a quick cheat sheet:
- Liability Insurance or COI. The coverage should be enough to replace your home if need be. Your contractor hoprfuls can send you a copy of this.
- WorkSafeBC. You can request a clearance letter from WorkSafeBC online in about 5 minutes, or you can ask your contractor to provide this.
- Better Business Bureau Standing. Not a huge fan of this one as it costs money to become a member, but if contractors are out their doing a good job, their rating should be a B or an A unless they’ve ad complaints
- Business License. Make sure they have one and it’s in your city/district. If they only have one in Coquitlam, you have a problem. A renovation contractor needs to make sure they have a license for every jurisdiction they work in.
- Incorporation. make sure they are an incorporated company. If their company isn’t incorporated, that’s a red flag.
- Contract. Get them to send you a copy of their contract. If it’s one page long or it doesn’t look like it was written by a lawyer, it’s safe to say they’re not the one.
- Warranty. Make sure they send you a sample copy of their warranty. This should be included in the contract too.
- Affiliations. Make sure they’re part of at least one builder association like HAVAN.
Take A Close Look At Their Portfolio, & Ask If You Can See An Active Job
Have a good look at the photos in the project gallery. Does it look like these photos are from North Vancouver or West Vancouver properties? Are they outdated and maybe look like the were from 20 years ago? Have a look at the fixtures, are they 2000’s fixtures or do they look new? A company that’s still in business and working, should have modern renovations in their gallery.
Most contractors and homeowners will be okay with you having a look at their project under construction. Of course, just make sure to ask!
The Bottom Line Is: There Are Other Factors To Consider
At the end of the day, price is important, but don’t let it be the only factor in deciding which contractor to use. Make sure you do your research. After all, it’s your castle!