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Your renovation starts here: 7 questions to ask potential contractors

Insurance? Unexpected challenges? Here’s how to get the answers you need
You’re excited to transform your home and have LOTS of ideas in mind, but who will you hire to do the work? Here are a few questions to ask to get you started. MAC Renovations photo

So you’ve decided to move forward on a long-awaited renovation – maybe updating your kitchen, adding a second bathroom for the kids or building out the basement for more usable space.

You’re excited to transform your home and have LOTS of ideas in mind, but first things first: Who will you hire to do the work?

Recommendations from friends and relatives can be a great place to start, along with browsing membership lists of reputable construction and design organizations or even visiting a home show. But once you have a few potential contractors in mind, it’s time to narrow it down. A few questions can help, says Ken Lydiatt, Project Leader with MAC Renovations.

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  1. How long has your company been in business? Longevity in the industry is an important factor when choosing someone for a job as important as renovating your family’s home – and your biggest asset! With 43 years in the industry, for example, you know award-winning MAC Renovation has the experience, knowledge and reputation to undertake successful projects, Lydiatt says. As an added bonus, that long tenure also means they’ll be there if you ever had any warranty questions or concerns down the line.
  2. Are you licensed and insured? It might seem like a basic question, but the last thing you want is to discover that a contractor lacks WCB coverage or insurance … after an employee accident on your project. The same principle applies to this other essential: Do you offer a warranty? Understand what the warranty is, what it covers and – equally important – what it doesn’t.
  3. Will you provide the design, or will I source that elsewhere? Working with a design-build team ensures one source of accountability, rather than homeowners having to navigate between designer and contractor to solve issues. With MAC projects, the designers work closely with construction teams from start to finish, Lydiatt says.
  4. How do you handle unexpected challenges? The key here is having a process in place that helps prevent unforeseen issues. MAC Renovations’ robust pre-construction process identifies issues such as asbestos, outdated wiring or drainage problems, not to mention municipal issues like setbacks or height restrictions, all of which can seriously impact the final cost of a renovation. While there’s a cost to doing pre-construction planning, the result is a fixed-cost project without costly surprises.
  5. How do you manage your subcontractors? We’ve all heard how busy the trades are, and you don’t want to be left mid-reno with no plumbing or drywall. How does your potential contractor handle that? It all comes down to planning and relationships, Lydiatt says. MAC’s well-established process schedules work several months ahead, allowing trades time to plan, continually updates a project’s progression, and ensures prompt payment. “Those established relationships are important. We take on the trade management so the homeowner has more time and energy to do what they love. And – looking back to question No. 2 – we also take care to ensure they’re insured and Worksafe compliant.”
  6. How do you handle timelines? A home renovation is like a puzzle where one piece can only be added once three other pieces are in place. Solving that puzzle means keeping everyone connected and communicating. For MAC, that begins with an extensive pre-construction process, continues with a site walk-though allowing everyone input on potential challenges and solutions, then connects everyone through an online program that keeps everyone up to speed, including homeowners.
  7. Do you have references? It’s not enough to ask for references for projects similar to yours, you need to follow up, and with a few more unique questions: What was the nature and scope of your project? Did anything unexpected come up; if so, how was it handled? And perhaps most importantly, would they hire the contractor again?

To learn more about planning your ideal renovation, visit or call 250-384-6091.