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Custom Home Construction and Remodelling Tips

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With so many factors and resources involved, building a new home can be as stressful as it is exciting. The process can get even more stressful when things go wrong, then get much, much worse. Just in time for the Halloween season, read about some home builder horror stories for chilling tales of renovation and building experiences gone awry. And learn how you can avoid experiencing similar ordeals.

 

A frustrated cottage owner listens on the phone as a dock construction horror story unfolds.

Beatrice and the Disappearing Dock

Beatrice wanted a dock built to a certain design. She paid a contractor a cash deposit and was told she wouldn’t have to pay any tax on the job. The contractor didn’t show up for a long time. When he finally did, he built the dock completely incorrectly. Dissatisfied with the quality of the work, Beatrice refused to pay the balance until it was fixed. When she returned to the cottage, the dock was gone. The contractor had taken it away. In order to save a few dollars in tax, Beatrice and her family lost it all.

 

Avoid what Beatrice went through! Never pay with cash. You’re just supporting someone who isn’t playing by the rules. If they aren't playing by government rules, do you think they’ll play by yours? They’re avoiding the legal responsibilities that make the trade safe for the consumer. Go with a certified contractor and it’ll be better for you, and the construction industry as a whole.



A husband tries (and fails) to fix a kitchen sink himself, while his wife looks on. Meanwhile, she's calling in a professional.

Clay Tries to Finish the Job

Clay thought he had enough experience as a handyman and decided to contract his own house. He bought a house package. But the sub-trades didn't know him very well, so they didn't respect his schedule, often didn't show up, and didn't answer his phone calls. He had wanted a brick exterior finish but didn't know enough to prepare the foundation correctly. He didn't understand how flooring choices affected the subfloor levels. He also didn't understand about calling for the correct building inspections, which caused some things to be redone. He ended up spending a lot of time frustrated, fixing mistakes he didn't realize he was making. In the end, Clay spent a lot more money than he thought he would, and nearly wrecked his marriage.

 

Avoid what Clay went through! Don't take on more than you can chew. Just because you can change a plumbing fixture or build a deck doesn't mean you have the knowledge to build a house, particularly one that’s up to code. When you build a house or do a major remodel, you’re making one of the biggest investments in your life. The implications will last a long time. You wouldn’t perform surgery on your child just because you knew how to bind a sprained ankle. You’d make sure there was a qualified certified surgeon. Treat your home rebuild or renovation the same way.

 

 

Paramedics wheel an injured construction worker into a hospital emergency room.

Paul and Sophie Cut a Corner

Paul and Sophie’s story is one often heard on the news. A homeowner hires a contractor to put an addition on an older home and it needs underpinning. They haven't properly vetted the contractor in terms of his abilities. But, this contractor offered the cheapest price. Plus, he seems really nice. He also might have renovated their bathroom in the past and did a great job. Maybe the homeowners are paying him cash to save a few dollars, too.

 

But they don’t really know if the contractor has any insurance or qualifications. That said, he assures them he's done this work before. While they are preparing the home for the underpinned footings, something goes wrong — maybe there’s not enough temporary support, and not enough due diligence — and the house collapses. A worker is killed or badly injured. The homeowner is now liable for that workplace death or injury because their "contractor" didn't have any liability or WSIB insurance. Instead of saving money, Paul and Sophie are now involved in criminal charges and/or a lawsuit.

 

Avoid what Paul and Sophie went through! Along the same lines as what Beatrice went through, always check out the credentials of your builder. Are they members of RenoMark? Are they licensed with Tarion for home building? Do they have liability insurance or WSIB? How many years have they been in business? It's always an advantage if your builder has some support staff to help smooth out the process. Get references. Don't put too much weight on the final price that's given if you’re getting competitive bids. The lowest bid is not always the best bid. The company that charges a bit more is more likely to be in business down the road when you might want to reach them.



Keep these cautionary tales in mind when looking to rebuild or renovate your home. While it might be tempting to go for what initially looks like a good deal or easier process, do your homework to ensure you don’t find yourself dealing with the stress, added cost, and possible legal issues that could spoil your dream.

 

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