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The Planning Process

When a company or an individual compromises one time, whether it’s on price or principle, the next compromise is right around the corner. -Zig Ziglar

What should a contractor do for me?

Every project is composed of thousands of different steps and pieces. There can be literally hundreds of people involved in a custom house construction project – from delivery people and technical product support reps, to a huge variety of tradespeople and their managers. A good contractor knows how to work with these people to get you to your goals in the most efficient way. A well-orchestrated project avoids costly issues that would arise from a poorly planned one.

The industry standard is for a contractor to charge a percentage of the cost of the project as the fee. This percentage varies, but for a qualified professional contractor it is commonly in the seven to 15 per cent range for the Greater Victoria area. This fee is often offset by the contractor’s ability to leverage lower pricing on materials, increased efficiency of trades, and the ability to determine the most cost-effective solutions for all situations.

Custom home construction or custom home renovations are a big expense. A contractor can help make sure that expense delivers value.

How do I pick a contractor?

Choosing a contractor can be the most agonizing stage for the first-timer. How do you know who will be the best fit for you? How do you find out? You need to trust that even the parts you don’t understand are put together right. You need to trust that the people in your house know it’s your home.

The Internet is full of articles and opinions and by the time you’ve read them all you will know 100 ways and hear reasons why each one is wrong. There are two tried and true methods that rarely let people down.

  1. Get to know your contractor a little. Meet with him/her a couple of times to go over some details of the project. Talk to people who know your contractor. Past clients especially, but even the guy behind the desk at their primary supplier will know the type of person they are.
  2. Go with your gut. Have a bad feeling? You’re probably right. Have a good feeling? That’s probably a sign you are on the right track.

How do I identify a professional?

Lead tradespeople working for your contractor should have Industry Training Authority (ITA) certification, which helps ensure they have been educated across the full scope of their trade. Also, the contractor you choose should be registered and in good standing with WorkSafeBC, otherwise you could be liable for insurance premiums for the work performed on your behalf. If in doubt, you can look them up for yourself.

The contractor you choose should hold general liability insurance. You have the right to request a Certificate of Insurance or a copy of the policy, and your insurance provider should be able to review it to ensure it is satisfactory. If the worst happens, and part or all of your property is damaged during construction, an uninsured individual will not be able to cover the costs of replacement. It is also important to check that your own insurance policy allows for the renovations you have planned.

For more on insurance check out this CHBA article.

For more on hiring a professional, get some tips from the Canadian Home Builder’s Association.

Picking a Construction Contractor