Lessons for Homeowners on a Project gone wrong.


We had a customer  who was taken to the cleaners by a “Renovator”. This document is born out of our customers experience and highlights that even though you may think you have done some things right – there is more you can do. We have all seen the documents of How To Hire A Renovator – but I think these documents lack some key information – I call this – THE BUTS.

We tend to stereotype people who get taken advantage by a renovator – but this story shows how easily anyone can get into a situation that steals time, energy, money and joy out of a renovation.

We really dislike how some of the reality home makeover shows that pit homeowners and renovators because there are many great contractors out there and having a renovation done should be a VERY positive experience.

So here are the BUTs….


What to do What was missed
Get references – The company was actually a referral from a friend – who knew the owners of the renovation company. BUT He did it, but didn’t check to see if they did larger jobs, didn’t view or call any previous customers.
Get drawings done-  He did this, BUT He didn’t take time to look at them and the design was completely unusable – and wasted all kinds of space.  He accepted the drawings without walking them through the space or mentally trying to live in the space or ask questions about how high the loft would be. Some companies don’t always have the experience in knowing how to use space wisely.  We significantly changed the design. As an inexperienced remodeler he trusted the expertise he thought they had.
Get a permit – He did have them take out a permit, BUT He didn’t make sure they had any inspections done. He assumed they were following the rules – which you generally can once you know that they are a reputable company.
When work was done – And it didn’t match the drawings, he did question them, BUT He took their answers too easily – it was like he asked the question and that was the important part – even though he said the answers didn’t make much sense – he assumed they were the experts, but he never vetted that they had any expertise at all.
Have  a contract – There was a 6 page contract, BUT It was all legal stuff that protected the contractor and gave no details to the contract.
Have a payment schedule – He did, BUT He didn’t hold them to it.  They kept asking for more money and more money and he was so busy running his own business- he just assumed they would deliver.


Some other things that went wrong.

  • He did not get more than one quote.  (the job was actually UNDER priced by ½). The company could never a have done it for the price they said, they would have lost their shirts.  But in the end they didn’t even deliver a product for the amount they did receive from the customer.
  • He did not have a detailed scope, there was only 1 allowance in the contract, yet the project was to rebuild a completely gutted house.
  • He had no idea other than the fact he was getting windows- what size, what colour, what quality, what warranty, what features (casement/double hung).
  • He did not ask for proof of liability, WSIB coverage or their qualifications in carpentry (licenced).

This isn’t about pitting homeowner and renovator- this is about creating a partnership that works for everyone. We hope this helps.

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