How To Achieve A 5-Star Renovation Experience – 4th Star Criterion!

This is the 4th instalment of our 5-part Series designed to provide you with some common sense interview questions when selecting a Renovation Professional for your Home Makeover project. 

If you’ve followed our previous 3-Star Checklist series and you feel you are confident in your choice of Builder Professional, there are two more ‘Stars’ you need to align before putting ink to your contract. The final two Stars (checklists) cover the ‘During’ and ‘After’ experience you wish to achieve from your Builder on your Custom Home or Renovation project. We will be covering the ‘During’ stage in this posting.

Your experience ‘During’ your project can and should be enjoyable! A few topics we will cover are:

  • Project preparation
  • Interim living arrangements
  • Respect of your property
  • Project supervision
  • Online access to your project documents
  • Project progress reports
  • Change protocol
  • Project cleanliness
  • Timeline guarantees

These topics are more difficult to get answers for as many of these will be your actual experiences; however, a 5-Star Builder should provide all of the above. A great way to experience this first hand is to visit an actual project in progress; we encourage you to insist on seeing at least one or two projects either in an Open-House Pre-Board tour (prior to the installation of drywall), or by walking through a Builder’s construction zone in progress. This will greatly enlighten you on your choice of Builder. Viewing a project during construction truly is a window to the soul of your Builder; ensure you observe the condition of the site, and ask about their Best Practice observance.

Your project preparation should include discussions regarding the Refuse Bin placement. This is the bin utilized for all building debris resulting from the Renovation.

Arrange for a Porta Potty placement (insist on this!), trade workers access times, pet arrangements, family versus trade access points, project specific alarm codes, video surveillance options, and last but not least, property protection.

Protection should include: 

  • extensive use of plywood for driveway/step/deck protection (there is nothing like an oil leak or a destroyed deck to take away the fun of your project!),
  • zip walls and plastic draping for furniture and room-to-room dust mitigation,
  • foam and hardboard flooring protection should you be Renovating only one section of your home.

If you are intending to occupy your home while your Renovation is in progress, your Builder Professional should offer a ‘plan’ for interim living arrangements. This could include relocating a temporary kitchen to a room or location in your home. If your home makeover is extensive, ask your Builder if they have accounts or a network of contacts for furnished living arrangements. Calgary offers several options for furnished suites providing interim accommodations.

Ask your Builder about their supervision protocol. You should know who your project contact is and how you access updates, change requests and progress. Ideally, an online portal that allows you 24 hour access can truly mitigate the stress of your day to day experience. A single point of access online allowing you to approve your carpet colour selections for example or an upgrade to additional pot lights with a click of a button. The freedom to access this anywhere in the world from your iPad or laptop, contributes to a more organized and stress-free experience. 

Insist that absolutely no changes or upgrades occur to your project without your express approval before any work occurs. Do not accept just a verbal approval; insist on follow up paper work. Once again, an online portal eliminates this issue; if your Site Supervisor has an iPad on site an electronic signature ensures an immediate approval. Similarly, if you are in a remote location, a click of a button and your change is approved – hassle free.

Working with a Builder that employs a Team of Professionals that includes Architectural Designers, Kitchen Professionals, Interior Designers, and Site Supervision Professionals again is an ideal way to ensure your experience will gravitate towards a 5-Star experience. Communication is so incredibly critical during your project; the tighter the Team, the more likely mistakes will be minimized. Notice we didn’t say things would be perfect; however, there should be a recognizable commitment to excellence that you recognize with each Team member you work with. Commitment to Excellence should be immediately recognized!

As your project progresses, insist that broom-clean is required protocol for the end of each day and at milestones like pre-drywall. Ask your Builder if they vacuum your home top to bottom including each of the stud bays in your outside walls; this ensures less airborne dust and contaminates once your home is complete. Clean sites not only produce a healthier home at completion, but they are also safe sites. For your peace of mind, insist that your Builder/Renovator is COR or SECOR certified.

If completing your project on time and on budget is important to you, ensure you find a Builder that not only guarantees your completion date and your project investment but also has a proven track record of success, and puts this in writing. A Builder with a proven track record of timely delivery is great but engaging one that actually guarantees both completion and costs before your project begins is truly your ticket to ensuring you sleep well during your project.

Just like you, we hear of horror stories all the time that by the completion date of a Renovation or new home build, Homeowners and Builders are at serious odds with one another. Did you know that in cost-plus projects, 8 of 10 are in litigation?  This series is designed to help you break that paradigm; by creating a checklist and set of questions allowing you to increase your odds significantly in hiring the very best Builder possible.

Stay tuned for our final star criterion when we discuss what a 5-Star Renovation Experience looks like when your project nears completion and beyond!