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How to Hire the Right Renovator

It sounds like a crazy fantasy, but it is possible to have a beautiful home renovation completed on time and on budget. You just have to hire the RIGHT renovator. Here’s what to look for:


1. Start with your network
If you know someone who has had a great experience with hiring a renovator, start there. Most of KHD’s business comes in through referrals – we have completed several homes on a city block or worked with multiple families who are friends or are professionally connected. Then, once you’re introduced, start asking about licensing, insurance and team qualifications.

2. References
Are the company’s former clients happy to refer and recommend them? Do they have families that have hired them repeatedly? Our current record at KHD is a family that has hired us for FIVE separate renovations over several years and many more that we have done two or three renovations. Is there a former client or two or three that you could speak with about their experience with this renovator?

3. Feel the love – Chemistry is important
Trust your gut (but still verify). Do you feel good about everyone on the team? Do they listen carefully and make notes when you meet with them? Do they care as much about your home as you do?

4. Budget carefully
Is the company going to prepare a detailed and accurate quote for all aspects of the project? Have you reviewed and discussed every line item in the budget? Is pricing transparent and easy to understand? Did they just walk into your kitchen and say, yeah, sure, we can renovate this for about x dollars? Did they do an appropriate amount of due diligence to understand your home and what’s behind the drywall? If walls are moving, have they consulted with an engineer?

5. Timing is golden – Does the company deliver?
Are they finished when they say they will be complete? It is NOT fun to be dislocated for six months or more, if you were told your renovation would be done in two months. Good planning eliminates delays and cost overruns. Period. Orders should be placed in advance of construction to ensure materials are delivered ahead of when needed. Unless your home is a heritage home with old knob and tube wiring and full of surprises, it should be achievable to build a realistic budget and timeline for your project. If a renovator fails to discuss this with you and isn’t willing to commit a schedule to paper, walk away now while you still have your sanity.

6. Licensing and Insurance
How many renovations have this company project managed? Are they licensed by the province as a renovator? I’m not talking about a basic business license from the City but a proper renovator’s license issued by the province. Do they belong to professional trade associations? Are they established in the community with a great track record? Do they carry appropriate levels of insurance for a worst-case scenario? Will they provide written proof of insurance?

7. Permits and Inspections
Will they pull applicable permits and have the work inspected by the City? Do they have engineers and a team of supporting professionals that they work with? I’ve seen the aftermath of horrible decisions made by unqualified trades that compromise the structural integrity of homes. We then had to remediate in subsequent renovations which is dangerous, expensive and unnecessary. Cutting holes in joists or removing structural posts should never be done without a structural engineer’s input.

8. Return on Investment
For most families, your home is your largest investment. If you are going to invest significantly in your home consider the following…how long do you intend to stay in this home? Three more years? Five, ten? Or is this your forever home? These answers are critical and will help you and your design team to determine all the elements that need to be included in the design. For example, if you are planning to retire in your home it might be wise to install a sleek walk-in shower to allow for reduced mobility in the future. If your family is young and you plan to remain in the home, then we need to plan for your family’s evolving needs through each phase. Research what comparably renovated homes in your neighborhood sell for as this can also be a good indicator.

9. Work with Design Pros
Well-planned renovations don’t happen by accident and the use of a professional designer can make or break your ROI. Don’t gamble with tens of thousands of renovation dollars. Protect your renovation investment by working with a qualified pro. It will pay off AND protect you from making costly mistakes. Designers also have fast track access to teams of experts to help advise on the right product type for every installation. Many of these factors have an effect on safety. Plus, a good designer will suggest products at a mix of price points, understanding that the magic is in the combination of elements: some splurges and some bargains. We recently saved a client over $60,000 on an exterior material selection!

Experts take the guesswork and anxiety out of the renovation process and will save you hours and hours of your time. Hiring the right design and renovation team will set you up for renovation success and many happy returns. Here’s to living happily ever after in your new joyful space.


Krista Hermanson Design is a Calgary Interior Designer that specializes in residential renovations. We have worked with many families in Calgary who have felt disconnected to a certain area of their home, and We listen just as hard when our clients talk about budgets and timelines as we do when they talk about their vision for the space. It’s this process that has enabled us to complete hundreds of renovations on budget and on schedule.

Want to get in touch with us? Lets Talk.


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