Renovations

How to: Find a reliable pro for 10 common household jobs

How to: Find a reliable pro for 10 common household jobs Author: Style At Home

Renovations

How to: Find a reliable pro for 10 common household jobs

CONTRACTOR
How to find one

- Word of mouth
- Building centres
- Through other tradespeople like plumbers and electricians

What to ask
- Are they bonded, licensed, insured and covered by workers' compensation
insurance? The Association of Workers' Compensation Boards of Canada website has links for all provinces.
- What will the work schedule be?

Money matters
- Rates vary.
- On large jobs, split fee into instalments with firm payment schedule.
- Withhold 10 percent on invoices for 30 to 60 days to avoid liens on your property if contractor fails to pay suppliers or workers.

Comments
- The more info you have on your project the better, right down to the style of fixtures and materials.
- Trust your instincts; a personality fit is crucial.
- Contractors should ask you as many questions as you ask them; be wary of one who doesn't.

PLUMBER

How to find one
- Word of mouth
- Yellow Pages for well-established companies
- Through your contractor

What to ask
- Are they licensed and insured?
- What is their training and experience?
- Does the quote include fixtures, repairs to walls?
- What guarantees do they offer on their repair or installation work?

Money matters
- Going rate: $60 to $80 per hour for most jobs.
- Flat rate varies on small routine repairs.

Comments
- It's cheaper to group tasks, so if you have multiple jobs, try to get them all done at once.
- Avoid possible markups by buying fixtures yourself.
- Get multiple quotes on large non-emergency jobs.

ELECTRICIAN

How to find one
- Word of mouth
- The Canadian Electrical Contractors Association website (ceca.org) has links to provincial associations and member listings.
- Yellow Pages for well-established companies
- Through your contractor

What to ask
- Are they bonded, licensed, insured and covered by workers' compensation insurance?
- What is their training?
- How many years have they been in business?
- What are their guarantees and payment terms?

Money matters
- Going rate: $60 to $80
per hour for most jobs.
- Flat rate varies on some routine jobs.

Comments
- Get a written estimate and multiple quotes on large jobs.

INTERIOR DESIGNER

How to find one
- Word of mouth
- Home shows
- Magazines
- Decorating, design or furniture stores
- The Interior Designers of Canada website (interior designerscanada.org), or provincial associations

What to ask
- Are they designers (with college degrees and memberships in provincial design associations) or decorators?
- What will be done at each stage in the project, and how long will it take?
- Will they source products, as well as consult?

Money matters
- Going rates: interior designers, $90 per hour; decorators, $75 to $200 per hour.
- Payment schedule and deposits for labour and materials are common.
- Custom work (like upholstery) is non-refundable.

Comments
- As with other professionals you'll work closely with, personality fit is extremely important.

HANDYPERSON

How to find one
- Word of mouth
- Yellow Pages and Internet for professional organizations like Handyman Matters, which offers licensed, bonded, insured professionals and guaranteed work.

What to ask
- Are they bonded, insured, and covered by workers' compensation insurance?
- What are their qualifications?
- Are they licensed for plumbing or electrical jobs?
- Do they offer guarantees?

Money matters
- Going rate: $50 to $75 per hour for most jobs through a professional organization.

Comments
- They can be worth their weight in gold, or disastrous; word-of-mouth referrals or established companies are your safest bets.
- In small towns, many people supplement their income this way, with
varying levels of expertise.

HOME ORGANISER

How to find one
- Word of mouth
- Internet: Try websites like organizersincanada.com, which lets you search by location or task, and offers tips on how to hire an organizer.

What to ask
- How long have they been in business?
- What is their training and background?
- Do they work alone or with the homeowner?
- Is there an additional consultation fee or is that included in the project fee?

Money matters
- Going rate: $40 to $150 per hour, varying across country and by project

Comments
- Home organizers are different from home cleaners, though clearing out is part of the job.
- Home organizing can be an emotional issue, so look for someone you feel comfortable with.

PAINTER

How to find one
- Word of mouth
- Yellow Pages for well-established companies
- Home-builders' associations
- Paint stores
- Community newspapers
- Through your contractor

What to ask
- Are they bonded, insured and covered by workers' compensation insurance?
- Can they provide references?
- Can they bring photos of their work? (Look for professional results: Examine trim and where the walls meet the ceiling for clean, neat lines.)

Money matters
- Going rate: $40 per hour or $325 per day; average interior room takes one to 1 1/2 days

Comments
- Written estimate should indicate work to be done, type of paint, number of coats
- If you don't want to pay painters to clear rooms, personally move furniture to the centre of the room; remove valuables and pictures.
- Check room for existing paint splatters before the painter begins.

LANDSCAPE DESIGNER

How to find one
- Word of mouth-ask friends or neighbours with a garden design you admire
- Large garden centres
- Yellow Pages or Internet for provincial landscape designers' associations

What to ask
- What services does the design plan fee include?
- Is this fee refundable if the designer installs the garden?
- Do they have references and photographs of similar jobs?
- What is the length and scope of their guarantee?

Money matters
- Going rates: approximately $120 for consultation; $300 to $400 for design plan for average city property with front and backyard, but can be much higher for larger properties and for full installation.

Comments
- A design plan is worthwhile even if you install plants yourself over several years, since you then have an overall vision to work toward.
- Landscapers should check with utility companies for underground lines before digging.

WINDOW CLEANER

How to find one
- Word of mouth
- Yellow Pages

What to ask
- Are they insured and covered by workers' compensation insurance?
- What is their training? How many years have they been in business?
- Will they remove and replace storm windows?

Money matters
- Going rate: approximately $80 per hour for two-person crew

Comments
- Although window cleaners can clean both inside and outside of windows,
cleaning your own interiors saves money.
- Make sure they use ladder arms, which protect eaves and are safer.
- Providing detailed
cleaning instructions will help cleaners work to your satisfaction.
- If you can't be at home during cleaning, beware of who gets your key-
a bonded agency may be the best bet.

HOUSE CLEANER

How to find one
- Ask friends if their cleaner is good and is willing to take on another client.
- Yellow Pages for well-established agencies

What to ask
- Do they have references?
- What is their training and experience?
- Will they supply their own cleaning products or use yours?
- What's their cancellation policy?
- Will they handle the taxes? (Agencies often add GST to your bill.)

Money matters
- Going rates: individuals, $15 to $20 per hour; agencies, $60 to 70 per hour.

Comments
- Agencies cost more but provide bonded and insured pros-and
replacements. (Picture this: your cleaner's sick and you're planning
a party for tomorrow!)

Comments
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Renovations

How to: Find a reliable pro for 10 common household jobs