How Things Work During a Project

Once your project gets underway, you and your renovator need to work closely together to make sure that everything goes as smoothly as possible.

Many of the responsibilities of both the renovator and the homeowner will have already been spelled out in the contract. Before the work actually starts, it’s a good idea to sit down with your renovator and review this in detail. Good communication is often the key to a good renovation experience.

Before the Work Begins

  • Discuss the renovator's requirements for the work. including access to electricity and water on a regular basis, delivery and storage of building materials, and disposal of wastes.
  • Determine the ‘rules of the house’ for the work crew. Clarify access to bathroom facilities and eating areas, as well as kitchen privileges, if any, and also which parts of the house are off limits. Set out your smoking policy and if you permit music in the work area.
  • Verify that municipal permits and approvals have been obtained as needed. The contract may stipulate that your renovator will do this; however, the ultimate responsibility rests with you, the homeowner.

Renovator Responsibilities

  • Your professional renovator will make every effort to avoid disruptions and minimize the impact on your household. For instance, additions will typically be built and partially finished before the connecting wall is removed. Temporary hook-ups for water and electricity will allow you to continue your daily cooking and cleaning routines.
  • To keep you informed, your renovator will name a contact person for your project, usually the site supervisor or the renovator personally, who will stay in touch with you throughout the project. You will get regular updates on the progress of the work and be told when to expect tradespeople and when you will be needed for decisions. This person will also be available on short notice to respond to any questions or concerns that you have.
  • The renovator is responsible for meeting deadlines. The contract should clearly outline the project schedule and deadlines to which your renovator will work. If the work gets off-track for unforeseen reasons, the renovator will discuss the situation with you immediately and find ways to correct it.
  • Daily clean-up is part of the service. Professional renovators leave a clean work site at the end of each day. Be sure to discuss your expectations.

Homeowner Responsibilities

  • Clear work areas of furniture, drapes and art. Protect your valuables by placing them in an area where no work is going on, or out of the home, and cover anything that might be harmed by dust.
  • Make early product selections. The contract may stipulate that you select and/or provide specific items such as flooring, lighting equipment, tiles and kitchen cabinets. Have these items available to your renovator when needed to ensure the smooth progress of the work.
  • Keep changes to a minimum. Most renovators are willing to accommodate changes to the original plan as you go along. However, changes may result in a cost increase or a time delay so make sure to discuss the implications with your renovator. Change orders are amendments to the contract and must be signed by both parties.
  • Be available to your renovator. Invariably, you will be asked to make a number of smaller decisions as the work progresses. Make sure that your renovator can reach you on short notice.
  • Discuss any concerns as they arise.
  • Provide payment as agreed upon in the payment schedule set up in the contract. Be sure to hold back the appropriate amounts required by the Contractors' Lien Act in your province; contact your provincial government or your lawyer for information. Accept the unpredictable. Foul weather, unavailable products, unforeseen complications . . . these can be part of the renovation experience and will be dealt with by your renovator in a professional manner.