When Should a Contractor Join to Start a Renovation Task?

This is the continuation of last week’s conversation about “Where to Start a Renovation”
A contractor’s job is to materialize the architect’s design. Larger projects may employ one general contractor and several subcontractors for specialized tasks. When you hire a contractor at this stage, his/her job will include removing and installing walls, light fixtures, staircases, flooring, countertops, and more. Their expertise will secure a successful design implementation and a quality final result.

If you start your renovation with a contractor, he will rely on you to conduct the process and navigate him through your vision and goals. That means the typical responsibilities of an architect/ designer will be yours to bear. It may undoubtedly seem tempting, like a convenient way to save some money. But then again, are you sure you know what you’re up to? Every obstacle, challenge, and delay will come with a price tag. Moreover, expect the unexpected. In some situations, neither you nor your contractor will be able to come up with a solution. 

contemporary designer surrey
Contemporary Designer Surrey

Using a contractor in place of an architect or a building designer can make sense only up to a certain point. It’s acceptable when the remodeling is a small, prevalently cosmetic task that costs less than 5% of your home’s value.

Otherwise, all projects that involve significant structural changes should start with an architect’s/ or a building designer and eventually an engineer’s expert input, that will continue throughout every stage. You probably don’t want to risk any legal, financial, and safety consequences. Thus, when researching the initial cost of your remodelling, calculate the hazards too. 

Also, don’t forget that many architects have their own contractors, and that connection can greatly affect the final price

Word of Caution Before You Hire Anyone to Start a Renovation Project

Before you hire anyone, make sure to perform thorough research. Ask around for recommendations from friends and family. Inquire about all kinds of experiences they have had during the contract. That way, you will get some valuable insights that will help you recognize possible red flags and handle the issues more conveniently.

In general, it’s recommendable to look for an established company with a trackable record and a good reputation. Find out everything about their credentials, particularly qualifications and licensing. Check out if the license is valid and not expired, or worse—suspended in the meantime.

Make a list of prospective candidates and meticulously check each one. Look through their websites, google their names and details, find ratings, read reviews, and search for any traces of officially filed complaints. It’s a good idea to google names+keywords like “cheat,” “scam,” “fraud,” or “rip-off.”

Red Flags

Now, we don’t advocate paranoia, and for sure it’s impossible to predict everything. However, some warning signs should be a reason to check the person/company more thoroughly. 

Missing pieces of information, like full contact details (including a physical address) on the website, are not such a good sign. If a company asks for a substantial advance payment, or presses you into making haste decisions, run away. Also, beware of contractors who accept only cash, suggest a loan from someone he guarantees for, or offer any kind of “special demonstration price, only today.”

The biggest red flag is if you are asked to sign something even before you hire. That is particularly common with fraudulent contractors. They will answer your inquiry with an estimation or “authorization” that will turn to be as binding as an actual contract.

For many reasons, these situations rarely happen with architects. You are free to choose how you want to start a renovation, but be careful. Avoid any offers that include shortcuts, sideways, and alternatives methods. There is a possibility that you’ll be lucky and hit the jackpot; however, with such a lottery, there’s a great chance to lose.

burnaby architect
Burnaby Architect

Right Steps and Wise Choices Will Save You the Most

Red flags may leave you with a feeling that finding an honest contractor is hard. However, there are many ethical professionals in the business, and if you take the right steps from the start, you will not face many issues. 

The cheap, fraudulent work is usually conducted by individuals who have never really learned their trade or took a deep interest in it. They had joined the industry with the idea of making fast money out of it. The contractor of this class will offer you plenty of promises, “secrets,” and unique opportunities to renovate for cheap. Trust the established professionals, hire an architect from the start, and save more than just money in the long run.

By Aryo Falakrou (My Home Designer)

What you should know and do before renovating your house in Vancouver – Part 2

What you should know and do before renovating your house in Vancouver (Part 2)


In the first article we discussed what you need to do before you start renovating and what to ask a designer/contractor as well as checking that you have enough insurance. You’ve decided to go ahead with the renovation and you’ve hired a designer/contractor. What’s next?

City Hall and Permits

Before we get into the process at City Hall, there is the question of “why do I need a permit or permits?”

Good question. In the province of British Columbia, there are Building Bylaws, Regulations and codes that have been set out by the Province to protect you and your family and the people working on your home. When you have a permit, the work is inspected at different intervals to ensure that it is being done correctly and in line with the latest guidelines. Permits will only be issued for work that is permissible under the regulations, codes and bylaws.

The Risks of Working without a Permit are far greater than the cost of getting the answers you need right at the beginning.

What if you find out after work begins that you need a permit?

To prevent this from happening, don’t start work without calling or visiting City Hall and asking questions. If in doubt, ask. A good architect/designer will advise you or help you apply for the permit in the first place. The website for the City of Vancouver is the best place to start, but, and we cannot emphasize this enough, if you’re not sure call or visit City Hall.

When you do go to City Hall, here are some questions to consider asking:

  • What are the steps should I take to apply for a permit?
  • Can I hire an agent to apply on my behalf?
  • What do I need to apply for a permit?
  • Drawings? What type?
  • Do I have to hire an engineer?
  • Do I have to hire a contractor prior to applying for the permit?
  • How long does the review process take? (Depends on the scope of work)
  • When does the permit expire?
  • What should I expect once the permit has been approved?
  • Do I need to display the permit?
  • What do I need to do while renovating?
  • Who can call for the inspections?
  • What do I do when everything is finished?
  • Small Kitchen

    Small kitchen

At MyHomedesigner.com we can help you with most of these questions and we can apply for the permit on your behalf. This will minimize stress and you can focus on more important things like envisioning the finished project. What is the first thing you will do when the project is finished.

Click here to download the checklist

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