Repairs, Maintenance and Renovations
Things to Consider When Hiring a Contractor
Leaky roof? Concrete tripping hazards? Mechanical issues? New siding and balcony railings? We all understand the woes of condo repair, restoration, and construction. Projects forcing condo corporations to spend their hard-earned and meticulously saved reserve funds to maintain the status of the building is not typically an exciting undertaking.
Leaky roof? Concrete tripping hazards? Mechanical issues? New siding and balcony railings? We all understand the woes of condo repair, restoration, and construction. Projects forcing condo corporations to spend their hard-earned and meticulously saved reserve funds to maintain the status of the building is not typically an exciting undertaking. Unfortunate but necessary, maintenance and repairs are key ways to reduce your condo corporation’s liability, increase equity for owners, modernize the aesthetics of your home, increase the building’s performance and efficiency, and replace materials and products that have reached the end of their lifecycle.
With so many functions of a condo, as a condo owner, board member, or property manager, you not only have to choose what to spend your reserve funds on, but who to spend it with. Choosing a contractor can be a daunting task – will the project be completed correctly? Are they cost-effective? Am I (the condo corporation) liable for them on-site? With so many questions and unknowns, it is important to understand the process of selecting a contractor and to know what to look for in each potential candidate.
First, condo management needs to determine what they want the outcome of the project to be. Having a clear vision of the project will pay dividends when meeting with contractors later. Remember, as condo management, you do not necessarily need to know the specific steps it is going to take to achieve your desired outcome – the contractor candidates should develop a scope of work that both achieves what you are looking for and completes it as efficiently as possible.
Once a project outcome has been determined, it is time to receive quotes and proposals from contractors. It is industry standard to receive three quotes for any given project, which will allow condo management to compare each contractor on their scope of work and subsequent cost. There are several things to look for from the three contractors you choose to provide quotes. First, finding contractors who have relevant experience in completing projects identical or similar to yours. A contractor’s experience can tremendously help in completing a project successfully and ward off undesired surprises. They may even have helpful recommendations to get more bang for your buck. Second, see what associations or partnerships the contractor belongs to. Memberships in industry-specific associations often hold contractors to a higher standard and add legitimacy to their operation. Third, to protect the liability of the condo corporation, do not be afraid to request a Workers’ Compensation Board Clearance Letter and a Certificate of Insurance from the contractor. Completing this due diligence will provide a higher level of security for the condo corporation.
An alternative to the three quote method is a “trusted contractor” system put in place through condo management. Often, property managers or self-managed condos have lists of trusted contractors that they have used in the past with great success. Having access to vetted contractors in this way has its benefits and provides peace of mind for owners.
Now that you have selected your three contractor bidding list, it is time to tender the project. It is highly recommended that condo management designates one person, perhaps a board member or property manager, to meet with each contractor to show them the project area and field any questions they may have. Meeting with potential contractors ensures that all bidding parties receive the same information about the project and this distribution of information will allow you to compare the quotes “apples to apples.”
After all of the bidders have viewed the site and submitted their tender, it is time to review the quotes. When reviewing, there are several things to keep in mind. First, what is each contractor including? There is no such thing as too much detail in a quote – you should feel confident in what you are buying. Second, how do the product and material specifications compare? The quality of the products used can make a major impact on the longevity of the project and is worth investigating. This could also be the answer to the differences in cost of each quote you receive. Third, the cheapest quote is not necessarily the best quote. If you are given a wide range of prices, ask why? Did a contractor include something others did not? Did they leave something out that others are including? Remember, you are not only buying the goods and services from a contractor but peace of mind and confidence in their ability. Finally, what considerations did they take and include about your specific project? For example, is the project going to interrupt waste pick-up? Impact resident parking? Require inside access to a unit? Close an entry/exit of the building, etc.? What is their plan to remediate this? When these kinds of considerations are taken, it is proof of a contractor’s level of competency in dealing with condos and their complexities.
Understanding what to look for in a contractor will inevitably lead you to choose the right fit for your condo. The method described in this article is designed to give condo management and owners confidence in the contractors they hire and that the project will be successful.
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