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Be careful who you hire for home renovations

We first ran this column in 2008. Based on the increased amount of information gathered by attendees at the Kitchen Bath and Renovation Show, it seemed like a good idea to run it again.

Deciding who to hire for your home renovation is an important part of planning for its success. You want to work with a professional contractor, someone reputable and in business for the long term.

You need to find someone right for your particular project and someone that you can feel comfortable with whom you can develop a good working relationship.

Not everyone who offers renovation services is in business legitimately.

Some are "fly-by-nighters" -- here today, gone tomorrow. Some are "moonlighters" -- they do renovation on the side but it's not their real job.

Others are "low-ballers" who ask for cash payment and fly under the radar by avoiding registration, taxes and other normal costs of doing business.

Any home renovation, no matter the size, is an investment in your home and your life. Look for a contractor who:

-- Offers proof of being in business: GST/business registration, workers compensation, insurance.

-- Works with a written contract.

-- Offers a warranty on their work.

-- Provides referrals to previous work and clients.

-- Is happy to talk about their company, their experience and their plans for the future.

Companies that belong to RenoMark, a program for professional renovators, commit to a renovation-specific code of conduct. Check www.renomark.ca or www.homebuilders.mb.ca for more information and a listing of members.

The term renovation covers a lot. While many companies are capable of taking on a range of projects, they may also specialize in certain types or size of projects or a particular type of client. You want to find someone who has experience with the kind of renovation you are planning and can add value through their expertise.

Ask renovators directly about their experience and possible fit with your project. Have they done projects like this before and how did it go?

Ask for references and follow up.

Your renovation is likely motivated by a desire to improve your home, to make it more comfortable and enjoyable to live in -- a lifestyle decision.

Reputable, experienced renovators are often booked well in advance.

Start your search early on and be prepared to wait, if possible. A small delay is a reasonable price to pay for a renovation done right.

Mike Moore is president of the Manitoba Home Builders' Association.

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