Renovations: Tip#1 Research before hiring

When starting home renovations there are many things to consider and one of the crucial factors is hiring the right people.  This may mean that you find a General Contractor who is knowledgeable and experienced enough to ensure that the right tradespeople are used or this may mean that you do some research, hire the tradespeople you need and act as your own contractor.

Whatever way you choose, it is important to make sure that you are hiring people who know what they are doing.  Not doing the proper research can cause your project to end disastrously. Unfortunately, it is from experience that I know this. Today’s blog is the story of the time that I didn’t do my research.

The project I was working on involved the roof over my kitchen.  I found a person who said he could do the job and his price was right.  I said to myself (and here is mistake number one) "It’s a simple shingling job that even I could do" and in fact had with my brother 15 years prior on the exact same spot, "I don’t need to look any further, I’m sure he’ll be fine".

So I confirmed dates, arranged for materials to be dropped off and prepared my wife for what I thought was to be a 2 to 3 day job.  I’ll fast forward through the first week and arrive at the part of the story where my wife and I arrive home one evening to find the crew packing up their gear to go home, which in itself was fine until we arrived in the kitchen to look up to the blackness of the night there wasn’t a sliver of anything that even resembled a roof.  Nothing.  Thankfully my wife had been at a yoga class and was in a fairly calm state so when the roofer said to her, “Just leave your dog back here for the night, she’ll be able to keep the racoons and other animals out, we’ll take care of it tomorrow”, her peaceful aura kept her from committing murder.  We calmly and quickly got spotlights up and managed to get a covering over the expanse.

So other than taking double the time to do the job, and in fairness we came across a few other issues as the job went along, this was his first really big crime.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be his last.  Fast forward to the next week, the job was still not finished and major rain storms being called for.  We had gone to bed in a worried state as the weather forecast was just short of Armageddon for the next afternoon.  We were desperately worried that the weather would arrive early and the roof not being completed would lead to a flood in the kitchen.  So we rushed around the next morning and bought the heaviest plastic we could from Home Depot and returned to the house to give the plastic to the crew, which they accepted with thanks and assured us would use.  We continued on our day and didn’t think twice when the skies opened up and the rain poured down for the better part of an hour. 

It was the heaviest rain we had that year but we weren’t worried because our house had plastic over it.  Wrong. An hour or so after the rain quit we returned home and noticed the crew was gone.  It was my wife’s yelling that alerted me to problems.  You see our crew had simply decided to not use the plastic….at all.  The roof was still for the most part unfinished, some of it without even a sheet of plywood over it.  In their infinite wisdom they had used every piece of cooking equipment they could find to try and catch the water and then left.  The floor was puddled, the carpet sopping with rain, the basement ceiling and flooring damaged.  It was in a word, stunning.   

Anger doesn’t even touch the emotions that my wife displayed.  I managed to calm her down enough to get things cleaned up but it was with great difficulty.    The excuse I later got was a rather weak, ‘It just snuck up on us and we didn’t know what to do, when we do new construction we just leave the roof open when it rains’.  Apparently the assurances of using the plastic on the roof to avoid mishap during the predicted monsoon meant nothing!

I’ll end the story of my roof here.  In my attempt to quickly fine a roofer and get the job done I managed to ruin the kitchen and was forced to start in on other projects that were otherwise years from being started.  

Sadly, I’m not the only person this happens to and there is a moral of the story: make sure to hire someone who knows what they are doing.  Ask for references and check them.  Ask your family, friends and neighbour’s for their recommendations.  There are plenty of phenomenal trades’ people and General Contractors out there who know what they are doing and a little patience can go a long way to finding them.



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