Hiring Trades For Home Renovations: What You Need To Know

Building and renovating a home can be an exciting project, but it can also be stressful and overwhelming. One of the most important steps in any renovation is hiring the right tradespeople (carpenter, electrician, plumber, etc.) for the job. There are a lot of well-qualified people out there who would be perfect for any job you have. The harder part might be finding them, and then making the best use of them once they’re on the job.

Since the trades industries tend to be quite saturated, many people make the mistake of choosing tradespeople based on price alone, without taking into consideration other important factors such as experience, quality of work, and references. Most trades charge by the hour. So, the more focused you are with them, the fewer hours they are likely to take to complete your project. Remember that, and plan accordingly.

Whatever trade you are looking to hire, be sure they have the technical, business and interpersonal skills needed to work well with you and accomplish the task at hand. Here are some tips to make this process a little less daunting:

Write it Down

There is no job or detail too small to put to paper, so leave nothing to the imagination. Write things down for your tradesperson. Using the information provided in your Good Space Plan, provide a detailed description of the work you want to be done for each trade you plan to hire.

Where applicable, Good Space will have specified certain products and brands; make sure you include these in your written description. The more detail you can provide your tradesperson, the less chance there is of a misunderstanding. Simple gaps in communication often lead to disappointment in the final product, disagreements about payment, or both. We don’t mean to nag but, again, write it down.

Start Looking

Start with people you know and trust, like your friends, family or even a neighbour who has had similar work done. They are usually your best resource for accurate references when it comes to dependability, quality of work, and overall experience. Look to relevant retail outlets. Local building supply stores, like Home Depot, will often offer tradespeople for hire. Lighting stores will usually have a list of qualified electricians. Paint stores, like Benjamin Moore, can often recommend reputable painters for you to contact.

Narrow your Search

If possible, interview two or three tradespeople before making a final decision. Give each tradesperson a copy of the written job description that you have prepared so they have something to take away and refer to when quoting. Here are some questions to ask. Don’t be shy; professional tradespeople are used to being asked these questions. If they can’t or won’t answer these questions, it’s probably your first clue you should speak to someone else.

  • How long have you been in business? Do you have a board-certified ticket? (Electricians and Plumbers)
  • Are you bonded?
  • Have you done similar jobs before?
  • Will you be doing the work yourself or contracting it out?
  • Will you leave the job site clean of all mess?
  • Do you offer a warranty on your work? If so, what does it cover?
  • Do you have Workers’ Compensation and liability insurance? (a professional tradesperson will have these. If they have neither, you may be at risk)
  • Will you provide a written quotation/contract? (Insist on this)
  • When and how do you expect to be paid? (a professional tradesperson may ask for a deposit, but never for full payment in advance)
  • Can you provide references? Preferably ones that are not related to you…
  • Keep good notes from the interviews and date them so you can easily review them.
  • Get detailed line item quotes. Don’t assume the first quote you get is the best deal from the best person. Don’t be afraid to go back and ask a candidate to fully explain their quote and/or provide another one.

Check References

Ask for names and numbers of current and former clients. No matter how desperately you want to get started on your project, always, always, always (note the subtle repetition of “always” for emphasis) check your trade’s business references.

  • Ask these clients how the job went – the good, the bad?
  • Did the quality of work and materials meet their expectations?
  • Did they complete the job on time and on a budget?
  • Did they treat you and your property with respect?
  • Would you hire them again?

Get Them to Write it Down

This is so important. Have your tradesperson provide you with a written detailed line item quote that includes all the materials, labour, a payment schedule, and a start and completion date for your project. Make sure their quote is clear and matches all of your project descriptions. Let them know that you plan to hold them to this quote and that any modifications to it must be confirmed in writing.

Watch for the Warning Signs

Listen to your gut when you’re meeting with candidates. Said simply, are these people you feel comfortable having in your home?

Consider the following signs that might indicate you are dealing with someone who is not entirely on the up-and-up:

  • If they refuse to put anything in writing
  • If they ask for full payment upfront
  • If they ask you to only pay in cash (not a deal-breaker, but it could affect your ability to make a claim against a warranty or insurance)
  • If they won’t give receipts for service
  • If they are not properly insured or covered by WCB
  • If they are ridiculously late to a meeting
  • If they take forever to get back to you
  • If they are unwilling to give you an easy method to reach them


Now that you’ve learned what to look for in good contractors, and how to narrow down your search, watch for the warning signs, and to check references – you’re on the right track to finding the best tradespeople in town!

If you’re just in the beginning stages of your renovation and don’t know where to start, or need some professional design decision-making, we’d love to help! Don’t fret, you’ll still have the reigns as the project manager.

Good Space is here to put your vision into a comprehensive interior design plan that’ll give you everything you need to be able to send off to multiple contractors in order to find the perfect tradesperson for your job! Ready to get started? Contact us today and let’s turn your dream home into a reality!