Tips & Tricks

Home-Renovation-Contractor

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! 

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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 Kijenga.com 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! 

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Kijenga Makes Insurance Claims a Breeze in Saskatoon & Area

Summer days in Saskatchewan are filled with festivals, patio beers, camping and sun! We trudge through the long winters knowing the fun we’ll have once the snow melts. However, sometimes our hot summers can bring a thrash of unpredictable weather. With high temperatures and humidity, summers in Saskatchewan can bring another meaning to “Land of the Living Skies”.  Summer storms, just like the one that hit Saskatoon, Langham, Dalmeny and Osler last weekend are becoming more and more common. And with storms, can come hail or wind damage to your home.

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WHAT TO LOOK FOR

It is important to always check for damage to your house after a storm. Key places to inspect are your roof, siding, windows, and rain gutters. Siding, windows and rain gutters are easy to notice damage as they are visible from the ground.  Unfortunately, where it’s harder to see, the roof is typically where hail makes the most damage. To look for damage you can check for:

  • Dents
  • Circular cracking
  • Missing granules

If you notice any of these, call your insurance company immediately and file an insurance claim with your broker.  Sometimes it is hard to notice damage, especially if you don’t know exactly what you are looking for. Any damage from the storm left unfixed can lead to further exterior repairs, including a whole new roof. If you suspect you have damage, contact your insurance company.

 

PREVENT DAMAGE

Here are some tips for preventing wind and hail damage to your home:

  • Install impact-resistant windows and doors
  • Reinforce the garage door at weak points
  • Secure or store outdoor patio furniture, tools and toys
  • Keep trees and shrubs trimmed and pruned from branches that could damage property

 

INSURANCE REVIEW

If you’re unsure of how your insurance works, now is a good time to contact your broker to get more information on what exactly you are covered for in the event of a severe wind and hail storm, and potentially update your policy.

If you are in an area that was hit by severe hail damage such as Dalmeny and Langham, visit Kijenga.com and submit your project to get 3 free quotes for your insurance claim. Time is money and we make it super easy. We will connect you with certified contractors who have liability insurance, WCB insurance, business license and who come highly recommended from homeowners like you!

If you have family or friends needing quotes for an insurance claim, tell them to go to Kijenga and we’ll help them find the perfect contractor for their home!

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Kijenga’s Top 5 Kitchen Renovation Trends for 2018

 

Living in an 80’s oak wonderland and needing an update? Let our experts at Kijenga guide you through our top 5 kitchen trends for 2018.

 

1] Smart Kitchens

If you’re seriously into tech, consider getting a smart fridge for kitchen. New fridges from LG and Samsung have screens on their doors where you can download apps such as whiteboards, or recipes. The LG fridge screen can turn transparent to let you see inside without opening the doors. It also has a panoramic camera inside the fridge that you can access from your phone. Now you’ll know what you need to pick up on your way home from work in the Saskatoon rush hour. The Samsung fridge connects to your other smart home features so you can view your home cameras, doorbell and turn turn lights on and off… all from the fridge display!

Other Smart Kitchen features, which won’t cost as much include:

  • Motion sensored or one-touch faucets.
  • Kitchen lighting accessed from smartphone or tablet
  • Coffee makers programmable from your smartphone or tablet
  • Voice activated trash can

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2] Practical Storage Solutions

No more piling things up! Kitchen cabinets can be custom built to include a variety of features which will optimize your storage. Some of these ideas include:

  • Pull out drawers for garbage and recycling
  • Spice rack pullouts
  • Custom wine rack
  • Custom drawer dividers
  • Vertical pull outs for baking sheets
  • Pot drawers
  • Pulldown or pull out shelves

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3] Open Shelving

Floating shelves, especially around a window, can really open up a room. There are many positive features of this trend, including:

  • Inviting – guests know where your plates or glasses are without having to ask
  • Cleaning – typically people use open shelving for plates and cups which are used daily so dust concerns are limited
  • Light – By removing upper cabinets, the kitchen can appear brighter
  • Inexpensive – This option can be a lot more cost effective than cabinets
  • Test Run – Before committing, you can test run this feature by removing your cabinet doors for a few weeks

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4] Appliance Styles

Stainless Steel appliances have been popular for awhile now. In 2018, matte black stainless steel is now the trendy colour choice for appliances. The sleek coloring matches a variety of kitchen styles and the softer look of black matte creates a more comfortable ambiance as kitchens become more part of the home’s living space.

Another popular feature in 2018 is smudge-proof finishes. Anyone with a child can appreciate a smudge-proof finish! Who wants to clean fridge smudges everyday? No one has time for that!

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5] Island Ideas

Kitchen islands are growing larger and larger as open concept homes become the norm. The kitchen blends into the living space which allows for a larger kitchen island. Some of the other most popular trends include:

  • One level island – keep it one level to utilize for many different purposes and maintain clean lines
  • Pet Friendly – creating space for a pet centre, either a bed or feeding station
  • Waterfall Islands – keeping a contemporary look, the countertop extends to the sides of the island.
  • Two Toned – the island’s counter and cupboards do not need to match those of the main kitchen area

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If you’re planning your Saskatoon kitchen renovation for 2018/2019 we encourage you to get creative with your renovation while jumping on board the hottest trends. Submit your kitchen renovation project to us at Kijenga.com and let us connect you to our certified home pros!

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Free Renovation Checklist

We make renovations fun by ensuring you find the best contractor for your home. Once you find a reputable pro that is licensed and insured, any hiccups that come along are just bumps in the road along your journey to a better home. In this guide, we help you set goals and budgets, we identify your must-haves, offer tips and tricks, and provide expert advice from industry professionals. Plan your renovation project and use this checklist as a starting point.

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2018 Renovation Guide

Major renovation projects are usually once-in-a-lifetime and should thus demand the same attention to detail and planning of a wedding. Start your renovation off on the right foot by downloading this renovation guide we put together just for you.

In planning a major overhaul to your home, you must plan out every detail while putting together a meticulous budget and anticipating the pros and cons of each decision you make. Once you have a plan, it’s all about the execution. We created a guide to help you through it all.

Our mission is to match homeowners with certified and reputable contractors for their home improvement projects and ensure a seamless renovation, from beginning to end. We strive to connect with the best contractors in Saskatoon and area.

Start your renovation project with Kijenga. Reading through this guide will ensure you live happily ever after in your new and improved home!

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Basement Development Price Guide

As the home renovation experts, Kijenga wants to help you save time, money and frustration by matching you with certified and reputable contractors you can trust. We created this basement development guide to stop the procrastination and help you get your project done right the first time! We help guide you through your project, from beginning to end. This free guide is packed with average pricing, expected costs, trends in Saskatoon and tips & tricks from experts in the industry.

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Top 3 Renovation Myths

Planning a home renovation project soon? Make sure you take a look at these 3 renovation myths before you do anything!

 

Myth: Buying my own materials will save me money

Sure, sometimes items you find on your own cost less, but getting materials through your contractor may end up saving you money in the end. One of the reasons is product defects. If you find a defect in a product you purchased after it’s been installed, you will be charged for the contractor to come and remove the defective product and install the replacement product. Contractors who purchase the materials themselves will come and replace it at no charge.

Contractors get preferred pricing with their suppliers – this can mean cost savings for you. It’s important to keep in mind that there may be a difference in quality of materials from what you find compared to a contractor’s supplier.

Consider your contractor an expert. A tiler, for example, is going to know which tile would work best for your needs and will know if the product is defective or not. If you want to ensure your work is done right and has warranty, consider having your contractor supply the major materials for your project!

 

Myth: I don’t need a permit for my minor renovation

Permits in Saskatoon are required when building, renovating or demolishing a residential/commercial building. They are also required for certain plumbing jobs. Did you know a permit is required when the plumbing system in your home is being changed or if you are installing solar panels? Before you commence your renovation work, even if it is minor, check to see if it requires a permit first.

Building permit reviews and inspections ensure the building and structure meet necessary safety requirements. They are administered under the regulations contained in the Building Bylaw, Swimming Pool Bylaw, Uniform Building and Accessibility Standards Act and the National Building Code of Canada.

You will have to pay a fee for the permit. A building inspector will come and check the project at different stages of completion to ensure that it is built according to the plans submitted to the city, built to code and that it is safe – giving you peace of mind!

Sometimes contractors will get the permit for you but be sure to see a copy of the approved permit before work commences. The registered property owner is responsible for completed or partially completed work on their building.

To find out more about building permits from the City of Saskatoon, click here.

 

Myth: I don’t need a designer

For some renovations people think they don’t need a professional designer. However, having a professional draw up your plans will ensure that the aesthetical considerations for your renovation blend nicely with the structural requirements. In other words, you can ensure your ideas for the renovation are captured while still maintaining safety for you and your family.

Designers and architects can take your vision for the space and transform it to something contractors will clearly be able to understand. Having the drawings completed will make it easier and faster for your contractor to get the job completed.

When you’re ready to start looking for a contractor for your home renovation, post your project on Kijenga and we will connect you to certified contractors that have a strong reputation in Saskatoon. Kijenga contractors are certified with a valid business license, WCB insurance, liability insurance, GST number and a minimum of 4 recommendations from homeowners like you!

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Creative Paint Ideas For Your Home in Saskatoon

A fresh coat or two of paint in the house can sure modernize the feel of your home. Next time you are getting your home repainted, consider boosting that feeling by adding a colour bomb or two! Here is a list of four ways you can use paint to revolutionize your home and we have the certified pros in Saskatoon to make it happen. 

Embellish the backsplash.
Can’t afford to put in a backsplash? Then just use paint! Try using a different (bright) colour rather than the neutral colour on the walls to make the kitchen pop. It’s simple but can really brighten up your room.

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Another idea is to paint the current tile to give it a more modern feel.

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Paint Your Ceiling
Often ignored, things are looking up in the world of ceilings. Sorry people but your stipple/popcorn ceiling is a thing of the past. The trend is now smooth like butter. So remove the stipple and re-paint. You can take this even further by adding decorative trim or a metallic paint to the ceiling.

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Consider a statement wall
Whether in a bedroom or living room, a statement wall can transform a room. A statement wall can be one wall which has a different, bolder colour or a wall with an artsy feel to it. Professional painters can use different techniques to create these looks.
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Unexpected Paint
White walls. Boring. When repainting your home you can add some flare with the simple addition of bright coloured paint colours in unexpected places. Areas such as door frame & door, archways, exposed beams or even baseboards that are painted with an accent colour can help make the room feel inviting, but not overpowering. See the below pictures for more examples:

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When you’re ready to refresh your home and add some pop, post your painting job on Kijenga. We will hook you up with free quotes from certified painting contractors in Saskatoon and area. 

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Choosing The Perfect Countertop For Your Kitchen

There are so many options for choosing a countertop. Not only do you select based on appearance but you should also consider your lifestyle as well. What can you afford, are you able to diligently care for the countertop, do you have littles that spill frequently? Different materials have different pros and cons and we are here to help clarify some items for you:

 

Butcher Block

Butcher Block countertops are formed from wood to create a beautiful natural countertop.

Pros:

  • Handles cutting well and does a good job of hiding scratches
  • Varnished butcher block stain resistant
  • Oil-finished wood heat resistant

Cons:

  • Stains hard to remove in oil-finished wood
  • Require periodic sealing, may require regular oiling

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Concrete

Concrete countertops are one of the newest types of countertop. Homeowners can choose various stamping and staining techniques to personalize their kitchen. A certified pro through Kijenga, Dan and Jacob at Old North Concreteworks here in Saskatoon are the experts when it comes to custom concrete countertops for your home. Post your project and we will introduce you. 

Pros:

  • Custom formed
  • Durable and hard

Cons:

  • Chips & scratches easily
  • Can form hairline cracks
  • Requires regular sealing:
    • Topical sealers protect stains but not heat
    • Penetrating sealers can not protect against stains but can heat

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Granite

Granite is natural stone. It is ground and polished to take on a smooth surface. Because granite is natural each piece is unique. For an amazing selection in Saskatoon, visit Michelangelo Marble & Granite. 

Pros:

  • Heat, cutting and scratching doesn’t harm granite
  • Natural stone for those looking for eco friendly option

Cons:

  • Corners and edges can chip
  • Requires periodic resealing
  • Poor sealing can lead to staining and harboring of bacteria

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Quartz

Quartz is an engineered product. The majority of the composition is natural quartz with binder and color being added to create the countertop. Quartz comes in a variety of colour options for countertops.

Pros:

  • Scratch & stain resistant
  • Durable
  • Doesn’t require sealing

Cons:

  • Not as resistant to heat as some other options
  • Direct sunlight over extended period of time will cause fading
  • Among the most expensive options

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Laminate

Laminate contains particle board core with layers of plastic laminate on top. Laminate has the most extensive selection of colours and patterns.

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Large selection
  • Easy to clean

Cons:

  • Scratches easily
  • Not as heat resistant as other options
  • Abrasives ruin appearance

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Marble

A classic, elegant option for a countertop. Marble is natural and each piece is one-of-a-kind.

Pros:

  • Stains removed easily if marble is sealed
  • Nicks and scratches can be polished out
  • Very heat resistant

Cons:

  • Scratches and chips more easily than other countertops
  • Requires periodic resealing,otherwise may stain easily
  • Sensitive to acidic material
  • Expensive

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In the end, you choose what options is best suited to your family. If you’re ready to move forward with your kitchen renovation, post your project for free at Kijenga and we will match you with certified and reputable contractors in Saskatoon! 

 

Sources:

https://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2015/07/pros-cons-costs-10-countertop-materials/index.htm

https://countertopguides.com/materials.html