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Your Home Renovation Team – Who to Hire and When?
By Sherry Holmes
Monday, September 20th, 2021 @ 2:28pm
My family and I always encourage homeowners to do their homework when looking to hire contractors or tradespeople. We get asked all kinds of questions about hiring the right professional for specific projects or jobs. Love getting these questions because I KNOW people want to hire the right person for the job. For example, someone recently asked what do you call a person who remodels a house? Well, the short answer is a renovator or a general contractor. So who should be part of your home renovation team?
Should you hire an electrical contractor? What projects can be done without the help of a professional?
Should You Hire A General Contractor?
If you are planning a major home renovation or a full-scale construction project, hiring a general contractor is the way to go. They are typically a trained, licensed carpenter or a renovation technician and a licensed contractor.
They are the lead project manager and take accountability for the project, ensuring all the tasks are completed to code and to your expectation. They will also assess the project’s scope, hire the sub-trades, specify the materials, organize the work back schedule, and oversee the entire project.
While the general contractor works with the homeowner to decide on the final design and layout of the remodelling, some homeowners may choose to hire an architect or a designer/design firm to design and create plans for them.
Some homeowners decide to take this on from start to finish, acting as their own project managers by hiring each trade on their own.
Fair warning, this could be more time-consuming, as the homeowner is essentially doing the general contractor’s job. This will involve a lot of research. Not to mention if something goes wrong or the work doesn’t meet the code, you will have the added cost of redoing the work and paying more money.
You will also be accountable for filing all the required permits. Remember, having a building permit DOES NOT include the electrical permit. You may need both. Most electrical work needs to be reported to ESA by filing a notification of work or “permit” within 48 hours of when electrical work starts.
DIY Project Versus Hiring a Professional?
Here are a few questions to ask yourself:
- Is it safe to take on a DIY project?
- Do I have the time to take this on?
- Do I have the right skills and the right tools to do so?
- Is a building permit or other permits (plumbing, electrical) required?
Seasoned DIYers can take on many home projects, like updating a bathroom vanity, sink, and faucet set or changing door hardware —some of the smaller projects around the home that don’t require tearing down a wall or changing your electrical.
Should You Hire A Handyperson?
Depending on their skill sets and knowledge of the project, you might also consider hiring a handyperson’s services. My grandfather was a jack-of-all-trades, master of none – he did it all.
They have a good general knowledge of simple repairs and renovations. But be careful, and do not hire a handyperson for any job that requires a more specific skill set needed to do a job safely.
Changing a light fixture can be fairly straightforward, but if you are changing the location of the lights or doing anything in a bathroom (a wet zone and a dry zone), I strongly advise you to contact and hire a licensed electrical contracting business.
Other larger jobs that involve structural changes, roofing repairs, drain cleaning, moving plumbing or electrical, or utility lines also require licensed contractors.
Licensed Electrical Contractors
What is the difference between a Licenced Electrical Contracting (LEC) business vs. a Master Electrician and a Certified Electrician?
A licensed electrical contracting (LEC) business hires Master Electricians to manage the work and Certified Electricians to do the work.
LECs are the only electrical business authorized to offer electrical work to the public in Ontario. It is also the only business that can file permits with the Electrical Safety Authority (ESA) to inspect and ensure the safety of the electrical work completed in the home or business.
ESA licenses these businesses and drives compliance through requirements, including the filing of notifications for electrical work. Only a LEC business can file an ESA notification or permit. If a contractor asks the homeowner to do it, that’s a big red flag! Homeowners must keep a paper trail.
Why hire a Licensed Electrical Contracting (LEC) Business?
Faulty wiring can cause an electrical fire quickly, and electrical DIY or work done by an unlicensed contractor is often the culprit. Unpermitted or unlicensed electrical work is up to 4 times more faulty! Replacing faulty work means paying twice, leading to injuries, like shocks or burns, damage, and death by electrocution.
Use the following checklist to ensure you are hiring a licensed electrical contracting business in Ontario:
- Note their ECRA/ESA licence number — LEC businesses will have a seven-digit licence number issued by ESA that always starts with a “7”
- Check that their work vehicle displays their ECRA/ESA licence number
- ECRA/ESA logo on trucks, quotes and contracts is prominently displayed
- Written estimates should include ECRA/ESA licence number and ESA permit fees
- Check references
- Confirm that they will file for a notification or permit and get a certificate of acceptance when work is completed.
HOW TO FIND A LEC BUSINESS?
- To find a licenced electrical contracting business in your area go to ESA Safe.
- Red Flags To Watch For When Hiring an Electrical Contractor
Why Hire A Licensed Plumber? Should they be part of your home renovation team?
If you have any problems with your plumbing like a clogged or leaky pipe, or are thinking of moving your sink or toilet as part of a renovation project, then you are in need of professional plumbing services and will need to hire a licensed plumber or Master plumber to do the work.
Plumbing is a licensed trade, and it takes 5-10 years to become a Master plumber, including taking your red seal exam. Master plumbers work their way up from apprentice, journeyperson to master.
The difference between a journeyperson plumber and a Master plumber is that Master plumbers can own their own business and supervise other plumbers.
Should You Hire An Interior Designer or An Interior Decorator as part of your home renovation team?
An interior designer will help you bring your home vision to life whether you want more space or need a change of colour and style. An interior designer will ensure your vision is executed correctly. They have the expertise and knowledge to guide you through your renovation journey, from the planning stages, design creation to the finishing touches.
Whereas, interior decorators focus primarily on aesthetics and are typically not involved in renovations and structural planning.
Should You Hire A Landscaper?
Under the landscaping umbrella, you will find a series of certifications, including landscape technician, certified landscape manager, and certified landscape designer.
If you are looking to sell your home and your home needs some curb appeal, a landscaper or landscape designer will certainly be able to spruce things up. They have plant and irrigation knowledge and can help with grading issues, retaining walls, and land alterations.
There are many different trades that can help homeowners maintain or renovate their homes. However, it’s important to understand what each trade does and to hire the right trade for the right job. And always remember to have a written contract to document everything you have agreed to with your contractor, in case something goes wrong!