Four common renovation nightmares and how to avoid them

Making sure your dream renovation doesn’t turn into a nightmare means doing some due diligence before signing on the dotted line.

Many potential problems can be avoided by simply choosing the right contractor to tackle your renovation project, says Danny Ritchie, president and co-owner of Ultimate Homes & Renovations.

“People need to do their homework a little bit more on the credibility and background of the company,” said Ritchie. “How long they’ve been in business, what their track record is, how much subcontracting they do.”

Here are four renovation nightmares you might encounter and, more importantly, how to avoid them:

1. Contractor takes a deposit then disappears
Consumer groups warn about smooth-talking, door-to-door contractors who offer to repair a roof or renovate a bathroom, accept a deposit and then are never heard from again.

Ritchie says people should never decide who to hire because “they like the salesman.”
He says get a business card, check them out first and then decide if it’s a good idea to hire someone who knocked on your door.

2. Costly “extras” start adding up
The price you are quoted is only useful if it spells out exactly what’s included. Otherwise, you might find yourself charged more during construction to get the renovation you actually wanted.

Ritchie says for a major renovation project, his company often provides the homeowner with a “scope of work” that includes 20 pages of specifications on the materials included, so there are no surprises.

“Even to the point of saying how many pot lights will be put into a kitchen, and not just (an amount) for electrical,” he said.

3. Renovation is taking forever
Ritchie says a disreputable renovator might tell a person “what they want to hear” when it comes to how long a project will take, regardless of whether that timeframe is realistic or not

“Quite often, I’ll tell a customer that it’s going to take three or four months to do this job, and they’ll turn around and tell me, ‘the other guy said he can do it in three to six
weeks,’ ” he said.

He adds a typical kitchen renovation takes two to three months – not two to three weeks – so be wary of anyone who promises such a tight turnaround.

4. Renovator doesn’t back up their workmanship
After a renovation is complete, there are bound to be a few things that might need a follow-up visit to fix or touch up, so a contractor who doesn’t respond will leave the homeowner in the lurch.

Ritchie says being a member of the RenoMark program is a good indicator that a company stands behind its workmanship, since the program’s code of conduct requires companies to offer at least a two-year warranty on a renovation.


Gerald Vander Pyl