PEI

How to pick the right contractor: 6 things to know

If you're planning a project like building your dream home or making renovations there's a good chance you'll need to hire a contractor. Finding the right one can save you a lot of time, stress and money.

'It's just a matter of taking a little bit of time and doing your homework'

'It's nice to drive by and see their finished product,' says Sam Sanderson with the Construction Association of P.E.I. (Brian McInnis/The Canadian Press)

If you're planning a project like building your dream home or doing renovations, there's a good chance you'll need to hire a contractor.

Finding the right one can save you a lot of time, stress and money.

Here are some things to keep in mind on your hunt for the right contractor for your project courtesy of Sam Sanderson, general manager of the Construction Association of P.E.I.

1. References

Your contractor should be comfortable providing at least three references, Sanderson says. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

"Ask for some references," Sanderson advises.

"It's always nice to know that somebody has done work for somebody else and you've had a chance to chat with them and to make sure that one of their former customers were happy with the work they had done."

Your contractor should be comfortable providing at least three references, he added. 

Calling your local associations, building supply stores or even your municipality can be helpful in finding reputable contractors in your area, he said.

2. Transparency

Don't expect your contractor to know what you want — don't be shy to tell them, says Sanderson. (Freedomz/Shutterstock)

"Having an open communication and transparency is key to any project no matter how big or small," Sanderson said.

Bringing a list of the things you expect and want from your contractor is helpful, he said, and ensures that you will both be on the same page for the duration of the project.

3. Interviews

Make sure you're interviewing at least three different contractors before you make your decision.

"We want to make sure ... that you're getting the experience, that you're getting transparency and fair pricing. You want to make sure that you can compare the quotes and everyone should be all within the same area," Sanderson said.

4. Cost

Spending less isn't always the best route when looking to hire a contractor, Sanderson says. (Singkham/Shutterstock)

"I'm a firm believer that cheaper is not always better. A lot of the time you only get what you pay for. Don't base your judgement on just dollars and cents," Sanderson said.

5. Do your homework

"Go out into your neighbourhood, have a look at what contractors are building. If a contractor has given you an estimate, is giving you a couple of locations that he's currently working on or has worked on —  it's nice to drive by and see their finished product," Sanderson said.

"It's just a matter of taking a little bit of time and doing your homework," he said.

6. Sign a contract

Signing a contract could save you legal woes down the road, Sanderson advises. (Colin Butler/CBC News)

"A lot of people don't believe in contracts or don't know that there are contracts readily available. Certainly you should be looking at a contract for any type of construction," Sanderson said.

"It protects yourself as the homeowner and also protects the contractor as well," he said.  

Generic contracts are available at the Construction Association of P.E.I. for $20 to $250.

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About the Author

Sam Juric

Reporter

Sam Juric is a reporter with CBC Sudbury and can be reached at samantha.juric@cbc.ca.

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