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Renovation 101: FAQs

  1. I love my neighbourhood. Should I tear down and build new or renovate the house I have?
    If you’re asking this question, chances are you are hedging. Ask yourself why you want to build new? If you love your neighbourhood, sometimes it’s more cost-effective to simply renovate within your home’s original footprint. A good interior designer will help you see space opportunities you may never have thought of. On the other hand, if renovating your home will transform it into the most expensive property in the neighbourhood, and you are worried about reselling soon, you may want to consider whether moving to a new home or building new has more upside. A conversation with your realtor may be helpful here. If you’d like to compare the cost of both scenarios, we can do a feasibility study to make sure your final decision is based on facts instead of generic estimates.
  2. I’ve heard certain times of year are better for renovations. When is the best time to embark on a project?
    In a temperate rainforest climate like Victoria, it’s often easier to get exterior work on the roof, chimneys, siding, etc done in the Summer and Fall. But with proper rain coverage and equipment, exterior work can be done in Victoria at any time of the year because the temperatures are relatively stable. And because we have a full roster of in-house office, design, and production staff, we can accommodate your project at any time of year. Most interior renovations are unaffected by the weather. In fact, material suppliers often face less demand in winter, resulting in fewer delays due to shortages.
  3. How much will my renovation cost?
    It’s a question every home owner wants to answer. If you are looking for a ballpark cost, we’d be happy to have a discussion with you to determine the feasibility of your project. The truth is that no square foot estimate will do your project justice, because every project is unique. To avoid disappointment down the road, we recommend clients use our pre-construction services to determined a firm fixed cost. If you are looking for general ideas, Houzz has some great resources for you to consider.
  4. I’m pondering moving out during my renovation. What would you advise?
    If you can afford to, by all means, move out. Or time that long awaited vacation to happen at the same time (with our online project tracking software, this is what many of our clients do). That said, if you have a smaller renovation — a bathroom that is not your only source for showering and toileting, for example — then staying is not a big deal because the work will be localized to a small area and be over relatively quickly. Do you have pets or small children? Even more of a reason to vacate. Both will find the noise and activity stressful. No matter how many things we do to accommodate your needs (we use a negative-pressure dust extractor at all times), you will still find your day-to-day routine disrupted. One affordable alternative is to rent a trailer or motorhome and park it on your property (while still allowing easy access to contractors and trades). Here’s a great article on Houzz that outlines the things you may not have considered.
  5. How do I get started on my renovation?
    Before you get started, you’ll no doubt have lots of questions to ask your prospective contractor. Questions like: how feasible is this, what process do we follow, how much will it cost. Our approach is to gather some basic information over the phone first to see if we are a good fit, and then to schedule an in-person consultation to meet you personally and ask (and answer) the deeper questions. After this meeting, we may recommend a feasibility study to firm up an estimate. We’ll look into permitting and zoning restrictions, and investigate the quality of your home’s systems — including structural, electrical, plumbing, and more. Doing this minimizes surprises from occurring later on. We’ll then do a pre-construction agreement, which includes written specifications, scope of work, and master schedule. Contracts are signed. Construction begins. Here’s a full breakdown of our renovation process.
  6. Do you use subcontractors?
    Yes we do. As a full-service general contractor, we oversee both our own lead carpenters and labourers as well as a team of Victoria’s best specialty contractors (electricians, plumbers, painters, HVAC, drywallers, roofers, etc). Most of our subtrades have worked for us for many years, and all of them have signed and adhere to the same code of conduct that our employees do. We only hire professionally licensed trades people, and any apprentice on site is supervised by a senior journeyman. We’re rigorous about quality because we lead the industry with a 24-month workmanship warranty.
  7. How long will my project take to complete?
    The biggest source of frustration for people doing renovations is unrealistic schedules. Poor planning by your contractor not only leads to extra costs, but also pushes back completion dates. We try to prevent this by ordering all the specialty materials (windows, doors, countertops) as soon as the contract is signed, and building a schedule around their arrival dates. You’ll also get access to an online schedule that you can use to track progress on a daily basis. All of our processes — from our pre-construction checklists to weekly project reviews — are designed to keep your project on time and on budget.
  8. I’ve had lots of things go wrong during past renovations. How can I be sure that you will do everything correctly and to the quality I expect?
    On a large project with multiple moving parts, we understand that things can go wrong. That’s why we have designed systems to minimize the mistakes that can happen on a busy jobsite. As a Certified Renovator, the first thing we do to prevent this is to hire the best employees and subtrades. Second, we use an onsite punchlist (which you can track on your project webpage) that all workers must review and sign off each day. We assign you a personal project manager who is responsible for all approvals and communications between you and staff, so you have a “single source of truth.” We have weekly internal review meetings to go over your project’s status and correct any inaccuracies. Finally, we provide a comprehensive walkthrough inspection with you at the end of your project. Final payment is not due until the completion of this punchlist. If you have any doubt about our capabilities, please get in touch with our references.
  9. What is your warranty policy?
    We provide an industry-leading 24-month warranty for the labour and installation on all aspects of our renovation projects. We have even repaired things that have occurred after the warranty has expired when we believe our workmanship has not not been up to our high standards. We stand behind our work. Period.
  10. Are you licensed and insured?
    Yes. As a Prime Contractor, we carry $5 million in WorkSafe BC liability coverage to ensure you are never liable for accidents on the jobsite. All workers take an in-house safety training program and adhere to a rigorous set of safety protocols. Everything we do is in writing. We are a CHBA Certified Renovator, a very rare designation among Victoria contractors. We also carry many other designations.
  11. Can you help me with the design?
    Yes. We are a “design-build” firm, which means that we have certified in-house designers to help you if you need them. We’ll also work with your own architect or interior designer.
  12. Do I need permits?
    Permits are required for any structural, electrical or plumbing additions. Cosmetic or energy efficiency changes like flooring, tiles, windows, doors, and heating systems do not require permits. To the outsider, the process may seem complicated, and sometimes it is. Having an experienced contractor to guide you through this process reduces stress and future headaches when you want to sell your home.
  13. What is a hazardous risk assessment?
    A hazardous risk assessment is required by Greater Victoria municipalities and WorkSafeBC before any licensed contractor can perform renovation work in your home. It checks your home for hazards like Asbestos, Lead, PCBs, Mold, Arsenic, and other toxic substances that can harm workers or your family. No municipal inspector will set foot in your house until you have one done. We can coordinate this for you during the pre-construction phase of your project.
  14. Can I hire my own subcontractors and buy my own materials?
    Sorry, no. We’re required by law to hire the subtrades because we are listed as the prime contractor under WorkSafeBC regulations, making us responsible is someone gets hurt or exposed to hazardous materials. As for building materials, we retain steep contractor discounts that save you money. You may purchase appliances and finishings. Our long-time relationships with top quality subcontractors and experience testing various materials is one of the greatest ways we add value to your project.