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Credit: Flickr / Atlanta Scott

Do your homework before hiring a contractor to renovate your kitchen

Dreaming of a new kitchen? Consumer reporter Lynda Steele on how not to end up with a renovation disaster

Home renovations are big business in B.C. Whether you’re thinking about adding a new room, finishing the basement or laying down hardwood, the job can cost tens of thousands of dollars. So protect your home, your finances and your sanity by following these 10 simple tips.

Make Sure Your Contractor is Covered

Ask if the company is insured with WorksafeBC against claims covering worker’s compensation, property damage and personal liability in case of injuries on the job. Get the name of the insurance carrier and be proactive: call yourself to make sure the company is covered!

Get Everything in Writing

And I mean everything. Never do a handshake deal with a contractor, and get all verbal promises in writing. Make sure you have a contract, and always read and understand that contract before signing.

Complete Contracts

Never sign an incomplete contract – or a contract written in pencil. Always make sure to get a copy for your own records.

Check on the Business

Check with the Better Business Bureau to see if there are any complaints about the contractor you are considering hiring. Not all businesses are registered with the BBB, but if they are, and if there's a history of complaints, you can save yourself some major headaches by doing a simple computer search through the BBB website.

First isn’t Always the Best

Get at least three bids from contractors based on the same specifications and materials to be used.

Do they Fit the Bill?

Make sure your contractor meets all the licensing and bonding requirements in your area.

Know Your Rights

Consumers can add in a contract clause allowing themselves three days to cancel the job. However, all contract clauses terms have to be mutually agreed on between the consumer and the contractor or business.

Don’t Pay Everything Up Front

Hold back 10 per cent of the final price until 55 days after the general contract is substantially completed. This money can be used to help pay off any liens placed by sub-contracted workers who didn’t get paid.

Final Payments

Never make a final payment until you are fully satisfied with the work that has been done. Once the contractor has his cash, he's less inclined to come back to do touch-ups.

Don’t Rush!

Leave yourself enough time to get the job done properly. If you want a new kitchen by Christmas, it’s already too late. Choosing, ordering, and installing the components can take months if you’re looking to do a major overhaul.

So if you're really serious about that major kitchen reno, start planning now, and hope it's done by Valentine’s Day.

CTV Lynda Steele "Steele On Your Side"Lynda Steele’s popular CTV News ‘Steele on Your Side’ consumer segment is expanding to a half-hour weekly show. The first episode airs on Sunday, Oct. 20th at 3:30 p.m. on CTV B.C. The program will offer a half-hour roundup of the best Steele on Your Side stories and other consumer news from across the country. Check your local listings or the CTV website for more information.