Monthly Archives :

August 2018


How To Prepare For A Meeting With A General Contractor

You’ve made the decision to renovate your home in Saskatoon. Now comes the task of selecting a general contractor (GC) to get the project started. Since 2013, Kijenga has been connecting homeowners who are looking to complete a major home improvement project with reputable, certified contractors. Once Kijenga has connected you with a few general contractors, you can set up meetings to see which contractor is the right fit for your project. Although we verify all contractors through Kijenga, you have to find the right fit for you. Communication is key and so make this a priority to assess in your conversations with a potential contractor for your home. Get to know their values, their process and where you fit into it. 

But how do you prepare for these meetings to make the most out of your time together? Let’s take a look! 

#1 Telephone interview. Before setting up a meeting with a contractor, get a feel for them over the phone. Once we connect you to a contractor, they will be in touch with you to discuss your project. Briefly ask about their experience or if they’ve done any homes nearby. Talk to them about their current work load, timelines and communication style. If you feel there is good chemistry, book a meeting!

#2 Block time. Meetings with the GC’s could take upwards of 60-90 minutes, depending on the size of the project. Make sure you block off time for the visit so you’re not interrupted and can ask all of the questions you need to. Depending on your schedule, you may have to take some time off work or plan to meet up in the evening when you have more time available. Most contractors are flexible on timing and if they’re interested in your job, they will make it work. Ensure that all decision makers are present at the meeting to avoid any unanswered questions and back and forth. 

#3 Preparation. You should have a good idea of what you want before the meeting. Some areas to prepare for include:

  • Timeline. When would you ideally like to have the project started and how flexible are you with the timeline?
  • Renovation goals. Be as specific as you can about your must-haves for the space. What does the current space lack? Let the contractor know your wish list. These are items you would like if the budget allows. Download and complete this Renovation Checklist we prepared for you. It’s free! 
  • Budget. Make sure the contractor knows your budget early on so they can keep that in mind when discussion options with you. Be transparent with your contractor and trust they will make the best decisions based on your budget. If you are applying for financing for a project, mention this at the meeting as it may add time to your project.
  • Your vision. Show the contractor any inspirational photos you like from Pinterest, Houzz or home magazines. This will give them a better idea of what you are looking for. You can also show them any plans or sketches you’ve created or have had done by a professional. Here are some handy tools! 
  • Condo By-laws. If you live in a condo, be sure to look into the condo by-laws for your building. They may restrict working hours or how you can alter your unit.
  • Division of labour. Let the GC know if you plan to source the material, or if you would like them to. Oftentimes, contractors can get great pricing from their suppliers, saving you time and money in the long run. 
  • Questions. What additional questions do you have for the contractors? Some ideas are:
    • What is the best way to contact them?
    • How often will they be on site?
    • Who will oversee the work on a day-to-day basis?
    • How often do they have progress meetings with clients?
    • How are change orders completed and tracked?

#4 Communication. During the meeting you will be able to see how the contractor communicates and if your feel they would be a good fit for you. Consider these questions during the meeting:

  • Does the contractor communicate clearly and effectively?
  • Does the contractor understand what I need and can they provide it?
  • Does the contractor support me in my decision making?

After the meetings are completed and you’ve received estimates from the contractors, you can move ahead with deciding on who to go with. It is important to ensure any contractor you choose is certified and licensed in Saskatoon and Saskatchewan. At Kijenga we verify all our contractors licensed and credentials, ensuring they have liability insurance, WCB insurance, business licenses, a GST number and recommendations from other homeowners.
Post your project in Saskatoon and area and let’s get the wheels turning on you project! If you have any more questions for us, let us help. Get in touch anytime! 


How To Understand and Compare Contractor Estimates

Whether you’re finishing your basement or getting your driveway poured, it’s always important to get estimates from multiple contractors to make an educated hiring decision. Sometimes, however, reviewing the estimates can make your contractor selection decision more difficult! We hope to help you better understand and compare estimates by answering the following questions.

Is there a difference between an estimate and a quote?

Some contractors consider them the same thing while others use different definitions. One contractor may consider a quote to be a set price while an estimate to be more of a best guess as to what the total cost will be to finish the job. It’s best to clarify with the contractor if the price provided is set or could be adjusted depending on the project outcome.

Why do the estimates look different?

There is no industry standard for estimates which is why each contractor’s estimates can look very different. From style to line items, each estimate will be unique in the way it’s formatted. 

How do I compare estimates?

Some contractors put a lot of detail into their estimates, while others don’t. It is important to compare apples to apples. Some suggestions for comparing estimates are:

    1. Ask contractors to break the estimate down into labour, materials, profit margin and other expenses. Preferably, do this before they provide you with an estimate. If you have questions on your estimate, contractors are willing to help clarify items to you – don’t be afraid to ask!
    2. Separate major work categories. Lots of the time, contractors will lay out major work categories in their estimates, such as cabinetry or demolition. Find these larger categories in each estimate and compare. It can give you a better idea of the work and time needed to complete the project.
    3. Keep consistent. Ensure what you’re asking for stays consistent between contractors. It can be hard to compare estimates when one quote has a kitchen island and the other doesn’t, for example. If your project plan changes after meeting with one of the contractors, ensure the other ones you meet with are aware of the changes to the plan so they can adjust their estimates accordingly.

Why does the price between contractors vary so much?

It can be very confusing when item details are identical between estimates but the prices are different. Most of the time this comes down to contingencies, overhead and markup. Each contractor operates differently and requires some form of overhead and markup in order to make a profit. Contingencies are there to absorb, up to a specified amount, for unknown or unaccounted for issues.

Keep in mind that choosing a contractor shouldn’t always come down to price. There are a lot of other factors that help homeowners decide on who they are going with, such as:

  • Certifications (WCB insurance, business license, liability insurance)
  • Reviews from other homeowners
  • Communication style
  • Preferred timeline

Post your project on and we will connect you with multiple, certified contractors, so you can get your project done! To put the icing on the cake, in posting your project to Kijenga, you’re provided a project coordinator from our team to consult with you and answer any questions you may have when comparing your quotes. Post your project today for free!