6 Tips to Choose the Best General Contractor for Your Home Renovation


Although it isn’t as exciting a decision as thinking about appliance packages or new paint colours, choosing the right company to manage your renovation is one of the most important you can make in your renovation journey. After all, it is a significant financial, emotional and time investment and you’d want everything to go smoothly to avoid having to deal with the repercussions later. Spending time now to find the most qualified general contractor who is the best fit for your home will save you hours of headaches and thousands of dollars in the future.

You may have a vision in your mind of how you want your home to look, but it takes a great team to help you bring that vision to fruition.  You need a project manager with excellent leadership skills, a network of trades professionals and a crew of carpenters who are not only highly skilled and efficient to take care of the work, but also trustworthy and a pleasure to deal with. You want a general contracting company you can entrust to make sure all of these bases are covered, so everything can run smoothly from consultation to project completion

So how do you go about finding the right team for the job? We know it can be a confusing process, so we’ve compiled a list of things to consider to help you make the best decision.

1. Word of Mouth

One of the first things you can do in your search for a general contractor is ask your friends and family. Chances are, they can give you an honest recommendation based on their previous experiences and will know if the style you have in mind is in line with the company they have gone with before. Of course, you should continue to do your own research but this is a great place to start.

We ourselves have had great experiences expanding the Tandem family through word of mouth, as one happy client led us to their friends and so forth.

2. Verify their Experience Through Reviews & References

Most contracting companies display photos of their past projects online. Pictures are a beautiful representation of work, but it also pays to know the story behind them. How did this company conduct themselves while working on these projects? Are they able to stick to budgets and time frames? Do they have positive relationships with those they work with?

You can get real anecdotes and context to their project photos by asking for some references from past clients, architects, designers and/or trades professionals they have worked with in the past. If they deliver great work, they should be thrilled to share these references with you.

You also need to know if this company is experienced in the type of work you require. A contractor may have 10 years of experience building office spaces, but is that skill set most suited for your custom residential home renovation? Find out if they have delivered the type of renovations you want for your own home.

You can also check online through Facebook and Houzz to read reviews.

Tandem Tip: When talking to references, ask about the company’s ability to stick to the budget, remain on schedule and have professional behaviour.

3. Communication Skills

Your contractor should be someone who has a good record of positive working relationships with their clients and trades professionals alike. The ability to communicate well is so important in this field.

  1. The right candidate must be able to anticipate unforeseen problems and if they do arise they must be able to assess the situation and communicate the solutions in a productive way, quickly addressing the issue. 

  2. Also consider the ability of the contractor to help you get your ideas out onto paper, then express these desires to the subcontractors to help you achieve your goals.

  3. If working with an architect or a designer, consider the ability of the contractor to add a carpentry or construction specific insight to the design suggested. They may have the insight to make the work more budget friendly and efficient.

When you are first speaking with a prospective contractor, take into consideration your ability to converse and get along with them. You will be spending a lot of time with their team, so you have to have a good rapport. Besides, good relationships built out of common respect usually go hand in hand with a beautiful end result.

4. Resources

Does this company have the resources necessary to execute your vision efficiently and with premium quality?

  1. It’s important to choose a contractor who has a network of trusted subcontractors that they work with regularly so that they are not scrambling to find reputable and dependable trades professionals when it comes down to the wire.

  2. What about the team? Do they have enough staff to handle the project, and what is their experience? Can you trust that they will put in the care and detail required to renovate your home?

5. Don’t Just Go For The Lowest Bidder

The quoted price shouldn’t be the most important consideration. Of course, you need to be upfront about your budget and this is an important factor in your renovation planning. However, if you want a high quality renovation that will stand the test of time you have to invest in the right company backed by a history of high quality, time efficient work. The lowest bid may reflect the quality of the work; be it the use of sub par materials or desperation for work - but you must wonder why.

Tandem Tip: Ask for a detailed scope of work and materials in their bid. Just because a contractor gives a low number doesn’t mean they are the best choice. 

6. Certifications

Always make sure that the company you choose to go with is fully certified. They must be registered with a business license and an insurance policy. Other good signs include their involvement with local home builders associations, certifications to build with environmental standards in mind and the availability of after-care systems.

  • Tandem Construction is proud to be a part of the Greater Vancouver Home Builder’s Association. Members of the GVHBA are licensed and insured, have a commitment to remaining educated on the changing industry. Members of the GVHBA build over 65% of Vancouver’s homes and as members we are committed to building only excellence.

  • We are also a certified Renomark professional contractor. Click the link for 10 reasons you should hire a Renomark builder.

  • And we are BuiltGreen certified. We recognize the importance of using sustainable building practices in all of our projects.

We hope that you found the above tips helpful for your consideration in finding the general contracting company for your home renovation. Feel free to get in touch with us for a free consultation, so we can determine your renovation goals, outline project specific requirements and assess feasibility!

Tandem Construction is a general contracting, project management and carpentry company delivering luxury home renovations in Vancouver and the North Shore. From kitchen, bathroom or living room renovations, creating an income producing suite or a total home renovation, our team of project managers, carpenters and a network of trades professionals are focused on taking your dream home from vision to fruition. It all starts with a free consultation so we can determine your goals. Contact us today!