I’d Like To Do a Renovation!

But How Do I Go About It?

It’s probably a question you’ve asked yourself many times. What is actually involved in a renovation? As you start to explore the exciting possibilities of changing and improving your home, you will quickly come to a fork in the road where you have to make a decision: are you going to undertake this yourself, or hire a professional contractor to help you.

We’re going to outline some of the pro’s and con’s to contracting a job yourself, compared to the pro’s and con’s of hiring a professional.

Doing It Yourself


There are definitely some pro’s to taking matters into your own hands, especially if you have hands-on experience yourself or experience working with trades.

  • The greatest benefit, and probably the driving factor why anyone would want to undertake a large project like a home reno by themselves is the cost saving. By hiring your trades yourself, you are going to save the money you would be paying a contractor to coordinate things for yourself. This cost savings can seem very attractive, especially when the quotes are coming in and you can easily experience “sticker shock”.
  • Another reason why you may consider taking the helm is that you get to control the pace of the work happening. This may also be helpful as you can pause or resume the work based on where your budget is at and what you can afford.

There are also some drawbacks you need to consider before deciding to be your own contractor.

  • You should expect the job to take longer than you think. A main reason for this is because when hiring individual trades, some trades will give priority to their regular clients (builders and contractors) over you – a one time client.
  • A significant part of overseeing any construction project is the scheduling and managing of multiple schedules. As there can be many trades involved in a job (framing, drywall, painting, flooring, plumber, electrician, cabinetry, etc.), you need to have the skill set to juggle many overlapping schedules, giving the proper people access, as well as procuring the proper permits and inspections necessary to keep a job moving forward.
  • A major drawback to being your own contractor and one that can cause stress is that you are the go-to person for all your trades when it comes to questions or conflicts. Be prepared to be available at any time (including if you’re at work) to respond to trades who have questions. Things will not always go as planned, and in these cases where there is a disagreement between you and a trade, or between the trades, you are your own advocate and you may not have the knowledge to properly explain the desired outcome.

Hiring a Professional

There are many reasons to hire a professional contractor to quarterback your project for you. The peace of mind of knowing you’re dealing with an experienced professional who is going to execute the job to your expectations makes hiring someone vs. doing it yourself worth considering.

  • The contractor will organize and schedule all the trades in a fluid manner that keeps the site moving along a lot smoother. This includes scheduling the trades long enough in advance to ensure the best trades are available. There are some things that come from experience, and an experienced contractor knows the most efficient way to schedule trades so that some are able to be working at the same time, and others can follow closely behind to keep progress moving forward.
  • The contractor gets permits and schedules inspections. To do a renovation up to code, permits are needed before work can start, and inspections need to happen throughout the work. The contractor is responsible for submitting the permits to the city and scheduling the inspectors to come out to the house. If there are any issues that come up during an inspection, rather than you having to be the middle person between them and the trade, the contractor will communicate what changes are needed and them through.
  • The contractor is your advocate for disagreements between trades. There are inevitably going to be differing opinions on solutions to problems that arise. Since the contractor works for you, your satisfaction is their primary goal and they will work with the trades to come up with best solution.
  • Sometimes trades get called away to other job sites, or they just don’t show up when they are expected. This can cause unneeded stress and delays that a contractor can take care of. They can get on the phone either to clear up the confusion, or if need be find another company to step in and get that part of the job done to prevent the project from screeching to a halt.
  • Unfortunately it is not a guarantee if you choose a to hire a contractor you won’t have any problems. The best thing you can do when looking to hire is ask the right questions to ensure the contractor you hire is going to be the right fit for you, and they will get the job done to your expectations.

How to Choose the Best Contractor

  • There are some great resources that can help as a starting point to already ensure you are getting reputable companies. One of these is the Niagara Home Builders Association (NHBA). By calling or visiting their website, you can get a list of trades & contractors who are members of the association. For the sake of impartiality, the association will not tell you who to use and who not to. But anyone who is a member of the NHBA has become one on their own volition, and therefore is someone who is striving to be better
  • Ask for references. Any quality contractor who has been working in the industry for a decent amount of time should have a list of satisfied customers they can point you to to verify their quality and ability to complete a job to satisfaction.
  • Ask the question about which trades they use, and why. Do they know the individual people at the company, or do they just get “whoever” the company sends? A contractor who works closely and consistently with quality trades will get to know who is the most competent and will ask for them to be the ones working on their sites.
  • Along with who they work with, ask how long they have been working with those specific trades. A sign of a good trade is a longstanding working relationship.
  • You can always ask why they chose those companies in the first place compared to some others.

When It’s Time To Choose

The traditional mentality when getting a contractor to quote a job was to compile as many quotes as possible before choosing the one that seemed most appealing, both in price and the chemistry you had with the contractor. Things in the industry have been shifting towards having a conversation with up to 4 contractors, and from those conversations picking your favourite 2 and getting them to give you quotes. It will give you a good idea of what kind of budgets you can expect to pay for the project. The one you choose may not even have the lowest price, but is someone you feel confident will do the best work, and that you like, since you will be spending a lot of time together discussing the project.

Through our experience, and in disscusion with contractors we work closely with, we know that quoting a job is a lot of work. So when getting quotes, you want to be respectful of their time as much as you want them to give you a fair quote.

When you finally make the decision about which contractor to partner with, you need to be smart and do your due diligence, but also be mindful that getting quality work done does have a cost. Contractors want to give you their best, but that can be difficult if there is consistently budgetary restrictions, which is why it is important to have a clear understanding of budgets and expectations between you and the contractor.

A renovation is a big undertaking. It requires a lot of your time, attention, and money. It is not a decision that should be taken lightly. After giving it careful consideration, you should be ask yourself if this is something you and your family are ready to commit to doing yourself, or if you should trust it to a professional.

Many of our new clients who are starting a renovation are not aware of al the steps and involved, and we try to ask them a lot these questions. Although we have many trades we work closely with and we do stay in communication with during a project, having one person who is the contact person for everybody is very helpful in keeping everyone on the same page, keep them working, and keep moving the project forward. That’s why we recommend our clients hire a professional to help them turn their dreams into reality.

If you have any questions, or are interested in replacing your cabinetry, feel free to contact us HERE.

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Custom Cabinetry shop located in Southern Ontario, Canada.