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Ottawa contractor reviews needed

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  • Jan 30th, 2018 4:52 pm
[OP]
Sr. Member
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May 29, 2005
702 posts
209 upvotes
Nepean

Ottawa contractor reviews needed

Hi All,

we are on the road to a major renovation + addition to our house and are interviewing three designer/contractors and would like the communities impressions of them. We are going to interview:

Crossford Contruction
Ottawa General Contractors
Oakwood homes

We are going to renovate our high ranch of 1000 sq ft per floor (basement + main floor), add another floor on top and perhaps a finished attic if height permits. Our budget will be about $400k with a cap at $500k. We are interested in these firms because they offer a turn key solution from the design to the full construction.

For those who have dealt with them or even just a consult I'd like to hear from you.

Our impressions of OGC are positive. The estimator was really personable and seemed like someone we could work with. The only thing was one of our friends said that their designers are just more Cad people who have a bit of interior design sense.

I talked to Oakwood over the phone and people who we know said that the had very good experiences with them. The only thing is that they were pretty expensive.

We are going to interview Crossford in a few days.

Thanks!!
9 replies
Newbie
Apr 2, 2008
57 posts
3 upvotes
I don't have much to contribute other than that we started down this path as well. Similarly large renovation - adding a second story to a bungalow plus re-design of the main floor. We got quotes from OGC and Oakwood and talked to a couple others. In the end, we decided to hire an architect and are going through the design process now. While the 'turnkey' approach of hiring one of these design/build contractors was very appealing, we have never built a house or undertaken a major renovation before and wanted expert advice on the design. The contractors were able to quickly come up with functional solutions to our wants but I was left wondering 'is this the optimal design for our house and our needs?'.
I know we are likely to pay more and take longer, but having now worked with an architect and seen what they bring to the table in terms of knowledge, I'm happy with our decision so far.
Last edited by boost2142 on Aug 17th, 2016 11:27 am, edited 1 time in total.
Deal Expert
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Oct 26, 2003
35872 posts
4547 upvotes
Winnipeg
$500k should be enough to build a brand new house
WTB amazon gc @90%
Deal Fanatic
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Dec 27, 2009
7580 posts
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Victoria, BC
Here in Ottawa I would just go buy a nice house that has the features you want for that kind of money. I can't imagine doing that scale of a renovation.
[OP]
Sr. Member
User avatar
May 29, 2005
702 posts
209 upvotes
Nepean
The location is important to us because it's close to everything that we do. We have the beach which we go to three times a week in the summer, it's easy access to the highway, close to the bus route (my wife buses to work in 25 min), close to Quebec (we ski at Vorlage) and close to grocery shopping (Farm boy) and shopping malls (Bayshore).

I say the budget is $500k but we are aiming for $300k knowing that there will be overruns. Also keep in mind that our house has had very little improvement in the 12 years that we've owned it and had even less done in the last 30 years. I updated the small kitchen with an ikea kitchen and fixed up things here and there but nothing major. We'll need new windows and new HVAC very soon, so it's the right time to do the updates.

We can get a bigger house in Kanata but our lifestyle would not be what we want. Believe me, my wife and I have been around this line of thinking more than once. If we can do most of the things within $300k we would be ecstatic. The renovations will also make the house more energy efficient. In the end financially it wouldn't be "worth" it but our lifestyle is more important.

Boost. What were your impressions of Oakwood and OGC?
Member
Mar 1, 2016
232 posts
173 upvotes
Our next door neighbour had a bunch of work done by Oakwood and was less than impressed. Projected ended up being finished months late and way over budget. They mentioned that they only saw someone from Oakwood to sign the contract and collect cheques. Everyone else was a sub or sub-sub contractor. Maybe you'll have better luck with a project of that size, but with such a large company I think it is a crapshoot as to the quality of people you get. Have you looked at Amstead? They seem to be well-regarded in this area.
Member
May 14, 2008
317 posts
45 upvotes
Ottawa
I got a quote from OGC and it was the most expensive one out of the others that I got. The turnkey solution, design center, and computer generated models were impressive, however, I felt that it includes a lot of bells and whistles. I ended up going with a different contractor.

The estimator was definitely a personable, likable guy, and if I had more resources I would have went with them, but ultimately it came down to value.
Newbie
Apr 2, 2008
57 posts
3 upvotes
First up OP, I with you on your justification for the reno. We also want to stay in our area but even if we move to a smaller lot size, we will be paying at least $800K if not $1M+ for the size of house we want. And then it’s likely that it will still need updating. Of course I know such a large reno comes with major risks and headaches and so we continue to look for a property to buy. I’m not holding my breath.

I had good impressions of both Oakwood and OGC but I’m only talking about a few initial meetings. We never got to the point of checking out references or anything like that. I know Oakwood’s pitch is that their prices are higher because they give you an ‘all in’ price, whereas other companies come in lower and then costs balloon. But what is the reality? I would want to talk to lot of references, preferably not just their own, and see some work before committing to a big project.

If you want to try a smaller company, I have heard lots of positive reviews from neighbours about http://www.finespaces.ca/. They have done lots of work in my area. But I have not talked to them so I don’t know their services nor how much design work they do.
[OP]
Sr. Member
User avatar
May 29, 2005
702 posts
209 upvotes
Nepean
So we talked to a few constructions companies and here are our thoughts:

Sirois and Sons - strictly a construction company with no desire to do design. Kind of weird actually because they sent out a project manager rather than a sales guy. As a result, he couldn't really tell us about cost of a design or anything like that. He gave us a very rough number up near the $500 k range. He was very rough around the edges but very down to earth and a straight shooter. He didn't sugar coat anything. They sounded pretty decent, but until we got to work with a designer he couldn't help us out very much with costing such a project. They sounded trust worthy and wouldn't BS or up sell you. They will build what you want.

OGC - the estimator was a really nice guy. He's been really helpful and been great to deal with. We've had three meetings with him - one at our house, one at their office and a drive by of a few houses that they renovated. They estimated our job to be between $300k and $400k. They have a very integrated approach where the estimator will be with you throughout the process. I like the idea that one person will be able to see the whole picture and understands us. We've just given him some rough sketches and he's going to give us a better idea how much the project will cost. They are really working hard to get our business.

Oakwood - they surprised us with their estimate of $300k to $400k. We thought they would be a bit higher because they are a little higher end than OGC. The estimator was very personable and seemed to know a lot about construction. They took our drawings and are going to give us a more detailed estimate for the job. The estimator spent a couple of hours with us and took some pictures to more work at the office. They don't have the same approach as OGC where once we are past the estimate stage that they pass you over to the next phase. They also take 10% at the beginning even before you start designing which I'm not too thrilled about.

Amsted - they cam out to be the most expensive starting at $500k. They also were not personable and the guy didn't seem to want to be there. Even through email he seemed like he didn't really want to meet with us.

My wife interviewed an architect over the phone and their model is to PM the entire project to companies that they like to deal with - some would say that give them more money. This architect takes 10% of the job (minus fixtures and finishses) unlike a designer who is paid by the hour.

We are still not sure what to do but are slowly taking steps forward.
Newbie
May 4, 2012
5 posts
2 upvotes
Ottawa
I have first-hand experience I can share with you. I don't write often but I hope this will help a person or two. We were in a similar position as you back in 2012/2013 and were also choosing between Oakwood and OGC.

My neighbor down the road also wanted to renovate and they ended up choosing Oakwood. They both had pros and cons in my opinion, but it was ultimately our gut instinct that led us to go with OGC for a number of reasons.

All said and done, our renovation cost about $300k (it was an entire home reno from Kitchen to floors to basement) and although there were natural hiccups along the way which can be expected of any major renovation, the communication, diligence and craftsmanship they took was unprecedented.

We were so impressed with the house that we ended up referring all friends and family to this day and have heard nothing but great things back.

I checked in with my neighbor down the road after a few months and he said it was his biggest regret he's ever made and it ended up costing him more to get out of the Oakwood contract.

The poor fella ended up having a divorce afterwards.

I hope this helps and it allows you to make the right choice.

Good luck and all the best.

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