Albertans are proud of our homes and properties and have been putting more and more resources into improvements over the past year and a half. In March, AbacusData.com surveyed 1,500 Canadians to find out how many had taken part in a home renovation or DIY project over the previous year. Nearly half of the respondents (44%) said that they either already had taken on a project or were planning to in the near future. Among the most popular home renovations were the construction of home offices or gyms, playrooms for kids, and simple improvements to increase enjoyment of spaces.
Talk to your insurance company before you start
While you start looking into hiring a contractor, we suggest making a preliminary call to your home insurance company. Home insurance policies tend to have stipulations around home renovations, and providers require they be notified about major changes being made to your home. Your coverage could be limited during the renovations as well, so you need if know if additional insurance should be purchased. Also be sure to check your liability limits to ensure they are high enough in case a worker is injured on your property.
Insurance brokers such as us at Lane’s can take a look at your current coverage and cross compare your policy against the many we have access through our selection of respected carriers. We can let you know if you really are getting the best kind of coverage and whether there are any alarming gaps in your policy. While shopping around for a contractor, why not look around for a better home insurance, too.
Home renovation insurance options for homeowners undergoing large jobs may include:
- A course of construction policy (also known as builder’s risk insurance), which helps cover you for extensive work that can leave your home vulnerable.
- A vacancy permit may be necessary should you have to leave your home for an extended period.
- A performance bond could be helpful if there is an extensive amount of work being done for a large amount of money.
Do your research
Take the time necessary to really do your research when hiring a contractor. The results will literally be something you have to live with for a long time.
If you have friends who have been very happy with renovations done at their place – and you have seen the quality of the work – that is a good place to start. Often, word-of-mouth can be the most trustworthy way to find the right contractor for you. Be sure to get multiple estimates and don’t fall into the trap of thinking cheaper is better. Local contractors with a long history have shown that they are invested in their communities and not likely to just disappear. Qualified tradespeople will have a pocket certificate issued by the Government of Alberta, and the City of Calgary provides a tool to find or verify a Licensed Trade Contractor.
The Government of Alberta advises to check for the following in a written estimate:
- A complete description of the work to be done.
- An itemized list of the materials needed, the types that will be used, and costs.
- Full details of the costs of labour.
- Start and end dates.
- A guarantee of workmanship.
- The preferred method of payment.
Unfortunately, there are bad contractors out there, but there are a few common signs:
- Those who go around door-to-door and try to scare people by pointing out issues or problems.
- One who is unwilling or unable to apply for the appropriate permits.
- Gives you a quote before they have even seen your home.
- Asks for a down payment to purchase supplies. Reputable contractors should have accounts with their suppliers and not require up-front funds.
- Those who can’t be clear about when they will start the job and how long it will take.
Check your contractor’s insurance
Before agreeing to anything, check your contractor’s insurance thoroughly. They should have public liability and property damage coverage for all of their workers. They should also have worker’s compensation (WCB) coverage. You can ask for their WCB number as proof. All policies should be valid for the entire duration of your renovation.
Keep COVID-19 top of mind when hiring a contractor
Alberta remains locked in a vicious wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, and you’re going to want to ensure you’re doing all you can to help stop the spread. Workers should be wearing masks while in your home and maintain physical distancing of two metres. Provide plenty of access to sanitizer and hand soap. Frequently sanitize and clean high-traffic areas, such as your bathrooms, and ask that workers please stay home if they are ill.
Get everything in writing
You have finally decided on the perfect contractor and are just about ready to get started on your home renovation project. It’s time to sign your contract now. In addition to what has already been described in your estimate, you should also check for the following information.
- Blueprints of the complete job.
- Details of any work that is to be subcontracted.
- A statement identifying who will be responsible for obtaining the necessary permits.
- A promise that all codes will be met.
- Details on what the clean-up will entail.
- What items that have been purchased are warrantied and how.
- Copies of the contractor’s insurance papers and their WCB number.
- Details on how problems will be resolved.
Consider a home evaluation when work is complete
The work is complete and you love the new look of your home. Once again it’s time to check in with your home insurance provider to inform them the upgrades have been completed. For complete peace of mind, consider a carrying out a home evaluation to support your case with your insurance company. . There are plenty of home evaluation templates available online or through your insurance broker or provider, and they don’t have to be overly time-consuming or difficult to fill out. A couple hours worth of effort can save you major headaches if you have to file a claim and are unable to accurately list the containments of your home.
Contact us at Lane’s
Lane’s Insurance is pleased to serve homeowners and residents throughout Alberta. Contact us at:
- Our Calgary office
- Our Edmonton office
- Our Banff office
- Serving the rest of Alberta