Selling a home in downtown Toronto, despite the demand, can still be a challenge that requires an investment of your time and research skills, especially if you choose to complete a home improvement project before you sell. With the amount of money, you already have invested in your home, and the added investment you’re about to make, you have to be absolutely certain about who you trust working on your home.
That means that everyone you partner with during the process, e.g., real estate agent, contractor, real estate lawyer, etc., must be skilled, reliable and have several years of experience in the downtown core.
These are a few of the things you can do to protect and optimize your investment by finding the right contractor when upgrading your home before selling it.
First, Confirm that You’re Making a Sound Investment
Before starting any home improvement project with the intention of boosting the value of your home, consult a real estate agent who knows your neighbourhood well. The agent will inspect your home and provide you with comparable listings and recently sold homes that will show you which, if any, upgrades will result in a higher selling price than what you can expect now. The project you were planning may not turn out not to be a worthwhile investment for your home, despite home improvement trends, and you may discover improving another area of your home can provide a better return.
With the right project planned, the next step is to find the right contractor.
Finding a Contractor You Can Trust
The first place to start is by asking around your network to find out if someone you trust had work done on their home recently and was happy with the results. However, even if you do get a glowing recommendation, it’s still prudent to get estimates from other contractors (discussed below).
As you’re likely starting your search online, keep the following in mind:
- When visiting a contractor’s website, look for definitive proof of how long they’ve been in business to weed out any potential “fly-by-night” operations.
- When reading reviews, remember that both business owners and their competitors sometimes write or pay for fake reviews.
- Sort the reviews by oldest to see how far back they go. This may help confirm the information on their website.
- You can also search the business name on the Ontario Business Registry, which may provide you with their date and city of registration, and the Better Business Bureau’s site to see if anyone has filed a complaint against them.
- While this is not a guarantee of the quality of their work, you may also choose to only work with bonded and licensed contractors.
Meet With and Get Estimates From At least Three Contractors
Getting three estimates allows you to compare the prices you are quoted for materials and labour. This can help you filter out contractors attempting to overcharge you. However, if someone is drastically undercharging, this should also raise a red flag. A significantly lower estimate could mean that the contractor cuts corners, is inexperienced, or they may have no intention of completing the project and are trying to scam you out of a deposit.
When you meet with potential candidates, one of the first questions you will need to know the answer to is whether the person you’re speaking with is a contractor who does the work themselves (or their company does) or if they are a sub-contractor. As a general rule, contractors who hire their own employees are considered more accountable for their work than subcontractors. There is, however, usually a trade-off in the price for the work.
If you use a subcontractor, ensure that anyone working on your home is insured. If not, you may be exposed to potential liability if injuries or damages are caused by the work done on your home.
Finally, take note of the questions they ask you to help you get a feel for their level of experience and how concerned they are with understanding and helping you achieve your goals and vision.
What to Look for in the Estimates You Get
Paying attention to details on the estimate can also provide you with information on the trustworthiness and professionalism of the contractors you meet with. These are a few of the things to look out for:
Confirm that all the contractor’s contact information matches what you see on their website, Google, business card, trucks, advertising, etc.
The detail of the work described. Does the estimate show a step-by-step progression of the work to completion and include a timeline and a corresponding payment schedule, or does it simply give a vague description of the project?
Is there a guarantee on the work, materials, etc.?
A Final Tip When Hiring a Contractor
It’s against the law for a contractor to charge more than 10% above the estimate cost if the estimate is included in the contract for service, so make sure it is before signing it.
Leave a Reply