It's time to turn your old garage into the workshop of your dreams. Whether you're just updating the exterior or turning the inside into a car junkie's man cave, it all begins with hiring the right contractor. You'll need to get a lot of answers before you settle on a general contractor, but these questions can help you make an educated choice.
The Basic Q&A
Hiring a contractor for any job, even your garage, requires an interview with prospective contractors. The basic questions you first need answered are:
- Is the contractor and his crew licensed and insured? Ask for license and insurance information, and follow up to make sure the information is up to date. You can check license status online at the Canadian Department of Consumer Affairs.
- Will the contractor handle all permit issues and inspections? You need to know who is filing for the permit, and whether the cost is in addition to the remodel or figured into your final fee.
- How is payment handled? Your contractor should provide you with a payment schedule. You may need to pay at certain milestones during the construction, or you may need to pay part up front and the rest upon completion.
- Is there a warranty for the work? A good contractor will guarantee their work if something goes wrong after the job is complete. Get the details – in writing.
Hone In On Your Needs
For a garage remodel, there's a few other things you should verify with the contractor before securing them for the job.
- Does the contractor have experience with garage remodels? You want to make sure they know how to do what you specifically need. For example, if you want to raise the ceiling and install lifts for working on a beloved classic car, choose a contractor that has experience with lift installation.
- Will they be outsourcing any of the work? Garages have a few common needs that a general contractor's crew may not be qualified for. If you are installing a new automatic garage door, for example, will they be bringing in a garage door company to ensure the hardware is installed correctly? If so, you will need to check the reputation and licensing of this company, too.
- Can they implement your custom build plans? If you want walls added or removed, work benches put in, an engine lift installed – anything that's beyond the basic storage structure of a garage – make sure the contractor's vision for the project matches yours.
- What will they need in terms of space and storage? Often during a home remodel, the garage and driveway becomes the control center for outdoor work, such as sawing, and for materials storage. When it's your garage under construction, you will need to help your contractor come up with a plan B. Will they need to place a storage pod on your property, or erect a canopy to work under during inclement weather?
Garage working isn't as invasive to your home as other types of remodeling, but you may need to make a few amenities available. For example, bathrooms, water and electricity are a must. In some cases, contractors will bring in portable restrooms, in other cases it's easier to give them access to the bathroom in the house. Hammering out the details before work begins will save confusion and problems down the road.