To find the right contractor, you need to do more than ask for a few references. “We’re all going to give you references, and we’re going to give you the best ones we’ve ever had,” Caruk says. For all you know, those references could be friends or family. “What you should do is go and look at one of the jobs [the contractor] is halfway through right now.” Talk to the client. Is the contractor reasonable to deal with? Is the job running on time? Has the contractor been going over budget?
Bryan Baeumler, host of House of Bryan and Disaster DIY on HGTV, recommends going to where contractors shop for their supplies and asking a few questions. Do the suppliers know the contractor? How often is he in buying materials? An electrician who has been purchasing thousands of dollars worth of material week in and week out for years is probably a lot more reputable that someone with a spotty shopping history.
It’s also worth going to where the pros go if you’re doing some or all of your reno by yourself, says Jennifer Flores, a Toronto-based design blogger who has been renovating her home room by room for the past five years. “We had a plumbing issue, so we went in to the plumbing supply store. Go to where the contractors go. Ask questions,” she says.