Could you imagine struggling for six months to get your kitchen renovated?

This is exactly what “Frustrated in South Surrey” went through, and she is still dealing with the aftermath. I sat down with her to listen to her experiences and to share some of her advice on how to avoid this nightmare. Her first wish? That’s she’d used HomeStars.com before embarking on her own renovations.

Having dealt with one ordeal after another, her renovation could not have gone more wrong. All of the references for her first general contractor, Excel Tech Renovating & Painting, checked out, so she wrote him a deposit cheque of $14,000 to start working.

Only 2% of the renovation was accomplished before they disappeared, leaving her kitchen in a state of rubble with piles of construction debris & abandoned tools. The pantry that was framed was done completely wrong. The tradesman brought in for the kitchen floor tile removal took three days and only one quarter of the tile had been removed.

A few weeks later, they both agreed to refund a portion of the deposit for the incomplete work in exchange for the tools left behind in the partially renovated kitchen. Frustrated removed the balance of the kitchen cabinets herself, while searching for another general contractor to finish what the first one started.

While looking for another general contractor to pick up where the last one left off, she hired a cabinet company by the name of  Reliable Cabinet Manufacturing, (also operating under the name of Select Wood Enterprises) to custom build and install new kitchen cabinets.  However, the custom ordered cabinets she ordered weren’t the quality cabinets she expected.

The errors in what she was quoted were numerous: the cabinet boxes were only stapled together (rather than glued and screwed); she was given wood shelves instead of the requested glass shelves, drawers sit misaligned, none of the cabinet doors had soft closing hinges as she requested, the inside of the cabinet doors were chipped where the handles were installed, the doors weren’t properly sanded before being painted and are rough to the touch, the measurement for the dishwasher opening was too large and had to be filled in with plywood panels, and finally, the crown moldings were haphazardly installed and also left unfinished.

They offered to come back and complete the unfinished cabinet installation, but only if she paid the 10% hold back balance first. The cabinets remain incomplete.

The good news is that she finally found a new general contractor (BRC Contracting) helped her complete the outstanding work. They finished the floor tile removal, installed a beautiful new hardwood floor, and has also corrected the framing for her pantry. The new plumbing fixtures & dishwasher have been properly installed, and she was pleased with the electrical contractor (Stead Installations) work as well.

This has been a long, hard battle for one woman to endure.  After personally seeing her kitchen cabinets, I very much appreciated her frustrations with the lack of quality and attention to detail Reliable Cabinet Mfg. presented her.  Although she still has the kitchen cabinet company to deal with personally (they are not associated with BRC Contracting), her nightmare renovation is nearly over.

Here are 8 tips to avoid renovation frustration:

  1. Trade references are not always legitimate. Check the Better Business Bureau, your local City Hall for building permits, and HomeStars.com before you hire anyone.
  2. Ask to see actual work they have done for someone else. A good contractor will often have clients willing to let into their home to see what they’ve done for them.
  3. Get the scope of the work you want done written down and have both parties (yourself & the contractor) sign the work order sheet. Be as detailed as possible.
  4. Talk daily to your contractor to ensure that progress is on track. If adjustments need to be made to the work schedule, change the work order accordingly and have the contractor initial the changes.  Good  communication is key to getting it done right the first time.
  5. You should not put up more than 10% of the full contract price as a deposit to the contractor for renovation work.  The exception is for new home construction, 15% of the contract value is a common deposit amount.
  6. Keep records for every transaction between you and the contractors you hire.  Most disagreements can be quickly resolved by referencing your detailed documentation.
  7. Pay for work completed in stages, (i.e. deposit, ½ completed, ¾ completed) and then hold back 10% of the total contract price until the job is finished as agreed to on the work order.
  8. Trust your instincts. If you feel something isn’t going right, try to resolve the issue as soon as possible. If at the end of the day it means firing your contractor and hiring another, do it.

Posted by Team HomeStars

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