Thursday 28 November 2019

The importance of using reputable contractors, part 2

As discussed yesterday in [part 1], it's important to do a little research on the reputation of a contractor before jumping into a project with them.  Some further thoughts:

Impact on resale value

If you're looking at selling the property and find yourself with poorly done renovations you can afford or don't have the time to fix, these issues could block a sale or cost you in the sale price as buyers compensate for the costs they expect to pay to fix it.  You don't want to risk using a contractor who's not fully invested in their business, who could significantly slow your plans for selling or impact your bottom line.

How quickly will they and get it done?

And speaking of slow.  As I said before, there are 'weekend warrior' handy-persons out there who are great.  But sometimes the part-timer will take longer than expected, simply because they have less time committed to the business.  They may also be slower because of inexperience, no helpers, or a lack of specialized tools of the trade.  I've heard horror stories like a roofing job taking months to complete because of scheduling issues.  Not to mention times when they just stopped showing up mid-renovation.

Just how reliable is that warranty?

Many of these part-time contractors won't give a warranty on the work.  But even if they do, it's only as good as their word. If they don't honour it, then your only recourse is a lawsuit, which is an expensive time-consuming headache even if you win.  And I've seen situations where the contractor was non-responsive to calls and messages, and was impossible to track down with zero web presence or business contact information available.


Get multiple quotes on a job.  But don't be easily tempted to just take the cheapest, especially if it is significantly cheaper.  If you're not getting a solid referral from someone you trust AND who has actually used their service ("I've never used him but my neighbour does that" is barely better than a random choice from the classified ads), then look into them first and really take a critical look at their reputation.  If they're not easily searchable online or don't have positive reviews, I'd think twice about using them.

Wednesday 27 November 2019

The importance of using reputable contractors, part 1

When you're considering renovations to the home, it can be tempting to just choose the cheapest bid available.  But like mentioned in the post [Don't get scammed], even if they're not a 'scam' per se, it's worth considering their reputation before diving into a business relationship with them. A personal referral from someone - who has ideally actually done business with them - is one of the best sources of information.

Here are some of my thoughts on why their reputation is important.

Do they care about their visibility and reputation?

Do a little online research into them to see if they are easy to find contact and location information for.  Do they have a website or social media presence?  Do they have business listings in usual place?  Are there any reviews of their service and how good or bad are they?

Basically, you want to find out how invested they are into their business' reputation.  While there might be some good folks out there working part-time "on the side", many of these types of handy-persons just don't have the same interest in preserving their reputation that a full-time business does.  With no supervision and no concern for long-term effects on business, this can lead to cutting corners on materials or work quality.

Safety concerns

Obviously, cutting corners is not a good thing.  Poor work can become a potential risk for electrical fires and structural issues.  Unfortunately, most of us aren't handy enough to look over their shoulder and know if they're doing something wrong.  And if you're not getting inspections done on the work along the way, this is a bit of a red flag.  Sure it saves you money, but how do you know it's done right?

What's the real cost?

Besides safety concerns, if something isn't done right or well you may find yourself re-doing the renovations and spending much more to correct the poor work than you would have to just have it done well in the first place.  Less experienced contractors may also overlook something, creating problems mid-renovation and making the project bigger than they initially suggested.

A few more thoughts next time..

Wednesday 20 November 2019

Don't get scammed

"Don't get scammed".. I know you might be tempted to file that advice under "OBVIOUS" or "No Kidding", but I've been in the real estate business long enough to be able to tell you that the scammers are out there.  And they wouldn't be if they didn't think they could get away with it. 

Not all "scams" are illegal either - there are plenty of things I have seen which I feel are morally questionable but would never result in criminal charges.

Now, just to be clear, I'm not talking real estate agents.  I know the public perception of our profession is sometimes not good and there certainly are bad apples just like in any business, but licensed real estate professionals really are often your best option. 

For one thing, licensed agents are held to higher standards legally - we're expected to know more than the average Joe and we're expected to maintain stricter ethics when it comes to disclosure and advising our clients. 

Professionals also invest a great deal of time and money in their business on an ongoing basis, and the long term rewards usually far outweigh the risk of cutting corners for a little short term profit that could lose you your license. 

I can't tell you that you absolutely won't get scammed if there is a REALTOR(r) involved with the deal.  Even the best of us don't have crystal balls or magical lie detectors, and sometimes sellers and buyers can pull a fast one on us too.  But the chances are drastically reduced.

On the other hand, as soon as you start getting involved with unlicensed or un-certified sellers and service providers of any kind, whether it is a renovating-and-flipping company, a rent-to-own seller, untrained home inspectors, or people providing private mortgages, you have no guarantees about their standards.  Some of them can be quite good, both ethically and technically, but there is no standardized qualification, so it's impossible to know. 

If you're looking at any opportunity in real estate and licensed professionals are not involved, whether buying or investing (or "investing" in quotation marks), my advice would be to do everything you can to make sure they're legitimate. Obviously, word of mouth referral from someone you know AND who has actually done business with them is ideal. 

Failing that, at least make sure you are doing your research on the internet, checking for both the individual's name and the company name.  There still won't be any guarantees, but you'll be better off doing something than nothing.

And if your gut ever tells you something isn't right, consider listening to it.