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Question on home reno what is your source for fair/honest contractors

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  • Feb 27th, 2021 10:32 am
[OP]
Newbie
Mar 14, 2020
6 posts
9 upvotes

Question on home reno what is your source for fair/honest contractors

I recently purchased a starter home (1300 sqft bungalow) and started looking for someone to help do fairly straight forward renos:

Remodel 2 washrooms, redo all floors, paint the walls and put in pot lights and was quoted 60-70k for low end materials. Me being completely new to this, I have no idea whether that was expensive or not. So after a quick google search this seemed out of whack and it felt like I needed to cut out the middle men and work directly with the contractors. Therefore, I came to my trusty old friend @RFD Community for advice.

What resources do you use, do you have any recommendations for any of this. Also What would someone typically pay for medium end renos of this magnitude (eg. $4/sqft flooring)).
32 replies
Deal Addict
Dec 27, 2007
3478 posts
1043 upvotes
Edmonton
I would diy.

And of those that you listed, I can't paint at all (put a high lumen light at a hard angle and it isn't perfect sort of deal) so I have a friend that has a painting company (and let's say he's probably top painter in the city/area)
warming up the earth 1 gas fill-up at a time...
You only live once, get a v8
Jr. Member
Oct 25, 2017
105 posts
57 upvotes
The saying is get 3 comparable quotes. Get referrals as much as possible, but don’t let your guard down because someone comes with multiple good referrals (we look like we’ve fallen into this trap)
Deal Addict
Apr 18, 2005
2516 posts
902 upvotes
Mississauga
My advice ... get a contractor to do something small to test him out .. if you like him get him to do the rest.

As for flooring I would just hire that out specifically.. most stores that sell flooring have crews they deal with for install.. that's all they do.. so it quick.

Also if they are ready to start tomorrow .. be careful... .today most good contractors are booked 3-4 months out if not more.

Painting is very easy.. you got a home now.. time to learn to do some of the simple stuff as that part of owning a home.
Last edited by TLSRULZ on Feb 26th, 2021 7:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Sr. Member
Jun 26, 2019
964 posts
710 upvotes
As others have said, do some homework, get 3 quotes, check referrals, if something seems out of whack trust your gut.
kkrr123 wrote: Remodel 2 washrooms, redo all floors, paint the walls and put in pot lights and was quoted 60-70k for low end materials. Me being completely new to this, I have no idea whether that was expensive or not. So after a quick google search this seemed out of whack and it felt like I needed to cut out the middle men and work directly with the contractors. Therefore, I came to my trusty old friend @RFD Community for advice.
For pricing there is a covid premium and everyone is booked for months. The scope of the "remodel" two washrooms is the most unknown. So depending on whats being done in the washrooms it could be high, but hard to give you an answer.

If you're basically doing the full house top to bottom except the kitchen turnkey, there could be a lot of smaller things in the scope that aren't mentioned, and the GC is going to have his fee in there as well.

Again, for stuff like this, you should try and get itemized quotes to figure out what you're you money is going, as opposed to just a random lump sump with limited defined scope.
Deal Addict
User avatar
Jun 12, 2008
2904 posts
590 upvotes
Ancaster
Prices right now are a lot higher than before Covid due to material pricing going up and the contractors being very busy. Your best bet will always be word of mouth from people you know and trust as to who they used.

I used TrustedPros with success for some electrical work but not for General Contractor style work. If you just doing your floors, paint and potlights I'd say just get the specialists in those areas to complete the jobs separately (ie flooring contractor, painter & electrician).

Once you add the bathroom renos you're probably better getting a General Contractor for the whole project.
Deal Addict
Apr 26, 2013
3032 posts
2302 upvotes
Toronto
Best you can do is ask family and friends who they have used. Check out the work they did at your friends place and see if it is up to your standards. Then as most have said get multiple quotes on the job, make sure to compare apples to apples otherwise it is pointless. Ask the contractors to show you other work they've done as well.
Member
Feb 26, 2019
433 posts
380 upvotes
Ottawa
As stated, if I can get a trustworthy referral, I will rely on that. But I’m picky about these: I only like to rely on a referral from a person I know well who has similar standards to me. A referral from a random colleague or neighbour that I hardly know doesn’t cut it for me.

If I can’t get a rock solid referral for the job type; I default to the “big guys”. I will hire one of the larger roofing company or the larger window company. This way, if things go badly, they have a reputation to worry about (which provides some degree of accountability). Second, god forbid if things go really badly, you can least sue them and they likely have some assets to back it up. Try suing a small contractor... good luck getting them to show up to proceedings, let alone pay a judgment. But I’m a lawyer, so I’m a bit paranoid about these things, lol.
Member
Feb 26, 2019
433 posts
380 upvotes
Ottawa
By the way, $60-70k for that job doesn’t strike me as patently unreasonable, on its face. How does the cost breakdown? Does that include HST?
Deal Fanatic
Jan 25, 2007
9959 posts
5246 upvotes
Paris
dottawat wrote: As stated, if I can get a trustworthy referral, I will rely on that. But I’m picky about these: I only like to rely on a referral from a person I know well who has similar standards to me. A referral from a random colleague or neighbour that I hardly know doesn’t cut it for me.
My non-handy cousin referred a guy to me for a fairly major reno we were considering and I went over to see his work. VERY sloppy. I would have been pissed if someone did that quality in my own house. I like and trust my cousin, but apparently not on contractors.
Deal Addict
Mar 22, 2017
1357 posts
1463 upvotes
West GTA
It's impossible to say if that's reasonably cost effective or not. If you're laying hardwood, then an all-in cost of 7/sqft isn't crazy, so that'd be 1300*7 ~9-10k. Lights would be maybe 30 potlights at 120/pop, so call it 3600. Painting your house (ceilings, walls, trim, etc) might be 4-5k. So outside of the bathrooms you're at maybe 17k? If you have material demo work to do on the floors, maybe a bit more?

So now you're looking at two bathroom renos for 40-50k or so. That seems high if they're basic bathrooms and fairly straightforward cosmetic swaps with lower-end materials, not not crazy high.

Personally I'd hire out the floors, lights and pain separately. GCs are good for two things: complex projects that involve a lot of contractors, and smaller projects where you'd never get say a drywall guy to show up for an afternoon on your own. They're a waste for things like flooring and potlights, just save the GC fee and reach out to specialists. Probably save several thousand without much hassle.

Not advice, but what I'd do in your shoes.
Newbie
Dec 12, 2015
58 posts
32 upvotes
Toronto
I use homestars.com for this kind of thing, probably not the cheapest option but you know you are getting a well-reviewed contractor and they make it easy to get 3 quotes.
[OP]
Newbie
Mar 14, 2020
6 posts
9 upvotes
Wow so many comments. Lots of insightful info here. I wanted to loop back and thank you for taking the time to share your experiences with me. Much appreciated!
Deal Addict
Apr 26, 2003
1476 posts
619 upvotes
What you "think" are fairly basic renos can be taken across a spectrum. We just finished renovations and our original intent was similar, redo kitchen, bathrooms, flooring, paint, open a small wall, remove some window valences and gut/renovate basement turned into a 6 month project and was basically a "gut".

It all depends on your expectations on the quality of finish and the quality of the workmanship. As others have said, what might be acceptable to others may not be to you.
Deal Fanatic
Jan 25, 2007
9959 posts
5246 upvotes
Paris
kkrr123 wrote: Wow so many comments. Lots of insightful info here. I wanted to loop back and thank you for taking the time to share your experiences with me. Much appreciated!
This is the nicest response I have seen on here in a while. Why no other upvotes?
Deal Addict
Jun 26, 2009
3964 posts
2954 upvotes
GTA
dottawat wrote: By the way, $60-70k for that job doesn’t strike me as patently unreasonable, on its face. How does the cost breakdown? Does that include HST?
You missed the part about 1300 sqft bungalow. For $70K they better build second story on top of that pup.
Deal Addict
Sep 2, 2004
2343 posts
676 upvotes
I am about to start a project with a contractor we found on Trusted Pros. It's a decent site for reliable reviews and info, unlike homestars. We also reviewed examples of their work on social media sites.

I have also hired by word of mouth in the past. In all cases we got multiple quotes. We were not afraid to go with the highest or second highest option some times.

I've also had success buying flooring at a specialty flooring store and hiring their installers to do the work. We were new homeowners at the time and felt this was a more truthworhthy option. And everything was installed well so it worked out for us.
Member
Feb 26, 2019
433 posts
380 upvotes
Ottawa
Tommy74 wrote: You missed the part about 1300 sqft bungalow. For $70K they better build second story on top of that pup.
I don’t know, man. Two bathrooms, 1300 sqft of flooring installed, entire house painted, a few dozen pot lights (and accompanying drywall repairs), plus 20-30% GC markup...

$70K ain’t what it used to be.
Deal Addict
Apr 18, 2005
2516 posts
902 upvotes
Mississauga
I just did 2 bathrooms in the last year. Bought all the materials myself and had various subs-contract do the work.

The master bath came in at 32K ... I called a company and they wanted 65K.. that's when I decided to be my own GC.

Thread here bathroom-renovation-must-haves-regrets-2296096/

The kids bath is around 15.5K.. just because we did not splurge :).. but the materials are still pretty above average .. just got it mostly done.. just waiting for countertop and shower glass.
Deal Fanatic
User avatar
Dec 4, 2009
5041 posts
1361 upvotes
Imo, that quote isn't outrageous, it has the Covid premium built in. Might be about 15-20% too high compared to pre-Covid.

Two mid-grade bathroom renos will run minimum $15k each. 1300ft (~1400 really, accounting for wastage) of flooring, with removal and install ($7-7.50/ft) will likely run ~$10k, that's $40k there. Painting and electrical, another $7-8k. It adds up quick.
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