From, Realtor Terry Black
HRM has a lot of housing stock that would be more than 25 years of age. It seems to me in housing sales that if homes are older than 25 they may require updating that is more than cosmetic. However, a 25-year-old home was often really well built, is well maintained and is in excellent condition today. However, not always the case. You may decide given the uptick in housing market values that it is a good idea to renovate for selling. Or to renovate for your own enjoyment of the home with a plan to remain there long term. With recent changes to HRM land use bylaws the addition of a “secondary suite” or “garden suite” to your property you may be attractive. They allow for pure rental income, down-sizing by moving into a new suite and rent the larger part of your home or take in a trusted relative or friend as a tenant.
Whatever your motivation, if you’re going to renovate, it most often requires selecting a contractor to provide the necessary skilled labour and materials for the job. If you are going select a general contractor who themselves sub-contract with other contractors to complete the job that also means hiring the general and their sub-trades. It’s would be an important decision to select the contractor best for your needs.
This mini-series is designed to help with that process. After using all my fingers and toes I recalled today that I’ve been a general contractor for new construction and for major renovations to homes 28 times over the years. I’ve also hired other general contractors another 12 times. Note that real estate sales are my forte and I no longer do general contract work. Sales are my bread and butter and I plan to continue that. Here are some thoughts I have from my experience in having work done to my/spouse’s property or for a developer I previously worked for.
A Good Communicator:
Understand that whomever you hire you are working together. They may be the one with the tools but if you are like the majority of people having renovations done…you are the one living there. You eat and sleep at their job site. So, you’ll want to be sure that they are a good communicator. That requires the contractor to have one mouth and two ears. You’ll want them to listen to your thoughts, requests and needs. I think that it is important to meet with you at least once per week in person (or video call if covid persists). If your contractor does not listen for example to changes or additional work requested mid-way through the process of renovating it will cost time and money plus frustration.
Good Scheduling Start to Finish:
This comes with experience and knowledge of what each trade is doing.
You don’t want to have a week or two of waiting for work to be done with nobody showing up onsite while you wait.
Good Control of Sub-Trades:
You don’t want to be told the plumber will be there Wednesday, for example, when you think it means April and the plumber thinks it means July. A good general contractor will either have a plumber in house or be on good terms with a good plumber that does work for several general contractors. Good control applies specifically to the workmanship of the trades work being done, the cost being on budget (no surprises unless they couldn’t have been planned) and the timing of the work being on schedule.
I remember our first home in Halifax having work done to complete it while our family lived in a hotel room for what seems a year but was likely a month. I was 7 years old and was thrilled to invite my new school mate’s “home” to our hotel room after the first day of school. They really looked forward to going for a swim in the hotel pool. Mom was less than thrilled when we discovered after our dip that the hotel beds were bouncy like trampolines.
Do you think she wanted the general contractor to finish on time? Yup. She was very not thrilled that the work slowed to a snail’s pace once the drywall had been installed (this is normal by the way). The contractor told her every Friday afternoon “yes we’ll get right to finishing that item first thing Monday”. The problem was that the promised Monday, when the task was actually to be completed, never seemed to be the following Monday. We nicknamed him Mr. Monday. You don’t want to hire Mr. Monday.
Photo by ThisIsEngineering: https://www.pexels.com/photo/engineers-looking-at-blueprint-3862135/