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Declining oil prices mean that 2015 will undoubtedly see as slump in the housing market in Alberta.  With most people likely more cautious to commit to a new home purchase, the economy promises to drive more people to renovate their home to suit their family needs.

When selecting a renovation contractor, it is crucial that you use one who is credible.  If you are unsure as to where to find a credible tradesman, contact companies such as the Better Business Bureau, SmartReno and TrustedPros.  We are affiliated with such companies because they work with contractors with a proven track record that the consumer can trust!

As one of the highest rated renovation contractors with SmartReno in Calgary, we successfully completed 17 renovation projects for consumers who we were introduced to through their service in 2014!   We also received multiple successful leads through the Better Business Bureau from homeowners contacting them for renovation contractors holding an A+ accredited rating with the BBB!

Isn’t it important to work with a company that you know is experienced and trustworthy when it involves your most valuable possession?

We have talked in previous blogs about the importance of checking out any potential contractor’s qualifications.   It is important for you, as homeowners, to ensure that your renovation contractor is legitimate.  Like South Calgary Dreambuilders, your contractor should be licensed both provincially and municipally.  Any renovation business that requires either a deposit or progress draw payments (lets be honest … on any major renovation this will be a requirement) is legally bound to be licensed by the Province of Alberta.  This means that we are bonded, and able to apply for and receive local building permits for your project.   In fact, the City of Calgary requires that a renovation contractor be licensed and bonded with the province before they will issue a Business License!

As well, South Calgary Dreambuilders is insured and maintains an account in good standing with WCB.

So, if you or anybody your know is considering renovating in 2015, please introduce them to us!!!  As our way of saying thank you, we will happily provide you with a referral bonus on any completed project with a client that you have introduced us to!

I am constantly amazed when I talk to people thinking about renovating, or who have renovated, without understanding how they can protect themselves from being abused by their renovation contractor.

Renovating these days is frustrating enough given the hectic market, shortage of quality tradesmen and the fear of being ripped off.  While the market and shortage of people is irritable, it is also manageable.  So is your potential for being mistreated by your contractor!

In a time when we have social media such as Houzz and Pinterest, our potential clients are very well educated on what type of finishes and designs they want.  Many are as educated on the current styles as we are!  That is why it makes no sense to me that most potential clients have no idea, and rarely ask, how they need to protect themselves from being abused by their renovation contractor.

Renovating these days is frustrating enough given the hectic market, shortage of quality tradesmen and the fear of being ripped off.  While the market and shortage of people is irritable, it is also manageable.  So is your potential for being mistreated by your contractor!

In a time when we have social media such as Houzz and Pinterest, our potential clients are very well educated on what type of finishes and designs they want.  Many are as educated on the current styles as we are!  That is why it makes no sense to me that most potential clients have no idea, and rarely ask, how they need to protect themselves.

Last week I had a former colleague call me.  She said that her sister-in-law had some concerns about a siding replacement project that she was having done on her home.  Her and her husband are a decade away from retirement, and are renovating their home to enjoy over the next ten years.  My former colleague said that there were some concerns about the way the product, a horizontal siding called HardiePlank, was being installed.  She asked me if I would mind if her sister-in-law called me with some questions.  I told her I did not mind, but that I did not want to know who their contractor was or what the contract was worth.  In other words, I would answer technical questions, but that was all.

A couple days later I got the call.  It was easy to hear that the lady was distraught, so I answered technical questions regarding how the weather membrane should be installed and questions about the product and its installation.  She indicated that her contractor had made light of many of her concerns and had continued installing the product incorrectly.  She admitted that the contractor came well recommended, was not the lowest price as they had gotten 3 or 4 quotes, and she liked him.  She asked for advice on how to address her concerns with him, and I told her I would simply sit down with him, explain her issues, let him know that she had done her homework and she wanted the deficiencies repaired.

I expected that would be the end of that, and hoped that I had helped in some way.

Several days later I received a second call from her.  She said that her and her husband had sat down with the contractor, and broken down the deficiencies as I suggested, but while he had nodded and smiled at all the right things, he simply continued on without fixing anything!  She told me that they had parted ways, and asked if I would consider coming out, having a look, and providing a price to complete the project.  After some conversation, including letting her know it would be a while before we could do the work, I agreed to go have a look.

Time for our meeting came, and I had a look at their home – the homeowners following me around, sullen and close to tears.  I did not say much, other than a little small talk, as I took notes.   I remember thinking as I looked that their home looked like one of the worse Mike Holmes episodes I had ever seen.  The project was 1/3rd completed, and not a single part about the installation was correctly done.  They had paid a huge deposit to the contractor before he started.  He had provided a scope of work, but no contract.  They had now fired him.

So, this could happen to anybody, right?  Yes, it could.  These are regular, hard working folks.  Nice people.  Professional, educated people with a family.  Just like you and I.

So, what could they have done better?

First, people need to ask for qualifications.  They need to educate themselves.  If you were going to invest $50,000.00 with an investment manager or in a venture, would you not ask questions?  If you have the time to spend hours surfing the internet to figure out exactly what you want in your renovation, you have time to research your contractor and what they are required to do!

So, lets play a little game.  See how many of these points you knew about protecting yourself from renovation contractors …

DID YOU KNOW …
Every contractor who takes a deposit or a progress draw on a project is required to qualify for Provincial Licensing.  In order to get licensed by the Province of Alberta under this category (called prepaid contractors), the contractor needs to be bonded.  The Province holds this bond in case the consumer gets taken.

DID YOU KNOW …
All ‘prepaid contractor’ is required to provide a contract, which includes a cancellation clause for the consumer.  The contract formatting and layout is provided by the province of Alberta, including the size of the font for the cancellation clause, along with where it must be situated in the contract.

DID YOU KNOW …
The City of Calgary will not license a contractor until they are licensed with the Province of Alberta.  In order to take out a building permit, a contractor needs to be licensed with the City.  Almost every project that covers more than just lipstick requires a building permit.

DID YOU KNOW …
Your contractor should be carrying liability insurance, so that if something goes wrong on your project, you are covered by his insurance.  As well, any of his employees must be covered by Workers’ Comp, and you are free to ask for his number and check to make sure he is up to date.

Most contractors require a deposit and draw(s) throughout the course of the project.  This is our way of limiting our exposure to being on the other end of this situation.  We are allowed to protect ourselves in this manner.  That said, we must also protect the consumer.

If spreading the word like this saves one potential homeowner from having to go through what the family I spoke of is going through, then it is worth it.  If you know somebody considering home renovations, please pass this along to them so they can make sure their ducks are in a row!

Dave

(Link to the Province of Alberta information pamphlet …http://www.servicealberta.gov.ab.ca/pdf/tipsheets/Home_Renovations.pdf)

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Founder of South Calgary Dreambuilders, your renovation specialists

Small businesses are always a challenge to manage for their owners, regardless of what sector they are in. Often the business owner wears many hats as they walk through their day to day business. Most small business owners manage at least some portion of sales and marketing, PR, human resources, day-to-day financials, often hands-on in daily operations, and so on, and so on.

Just as important as attracting new business and satisfying your clientele is your ability to work and partner with other businesses that can help make your life easier.

For each small business owner, that will mean something different. While there is some common ground regardless of what you small business is, the scope of your partnerships can vary dependent on your business, your marketplace, the service you provide and where your own strengths are within your type of business. For example, you may know your product line extensively, but perhaps do not have the skills to market it. Or maybe you lack the polish or confidence to speak with those decision makers who sit where the air is thin.

I think all small business owners will agree that there is great importance in partnering with a financial institution that will allow and support your growth. Or with an insurance company that understands your business. Having a great accountant as part of your power team is key, and can save you thousands of dollars each year. A lawyer can generally be worth their weight in gold as well. Regardless of your small business, your power team can, and should, be a benefit and not a hindrance. If a member of your small business power team is holding you back, it is time to go shopping!

How about your suppliers? If you do not have reliable suppliers who can provide pricing and service that works for you, it becomes more challenging to hold on to customers. We search out suppliers who possess the same attitude towards their clients and their business as we do. Our suppliers go above and beyond to ensure that their customers are happy. We look for suppliers who understand the challenges of, and work with, small businesses. Often they are a small business themselves, perhaps family owned or a business with a history of long-term employees. Generally if a business has been able to hold on to their employees, they have long-term relationships with the companies they work with.

Small Business is challenging, and often the foundation of that business is a love for the industry or sector they are in. Ask any small businessman you know what hours they work. Why would they work the way they do? Because they love what they do. That love should, and can, be enhanced by surrounding your business with great business partners. It pays to revisit those partners on a regular basis to make certain that they are being an asset to your business, and assess where you might be able to do better.

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A month or so ago South Calgary Dreambuilders asked their clients and followers on Facebook, Linked In and Twitter, as well as our Blog followers, to weigh in with their thoughts on the importance of Better Business Bureau accreditation for renovation companies.  While some responded that it did not matter much to them, others stated that it played a role in their decision making.
Fair enough!  Our clients and potential clients had spoken, and we listened.  We are pleased to announce that, as of today, we have been upgraded from standard BBB members to accredited members.  What this means is that the Better Business Bureau has researched our methods of doing business, our professionalism and our conduct within the industry and we have passed with flying colours!

We look forward to our relationship with the Better Business Bureau, and are pleased that our future clients will now be able to check with the BBB as a reference of South Calgary Dreambuilders.

We would like to thank our clients and followers for their feedback, as it certainly helped shed light on the importance of the BBB’s role to the consumer.

 

Over the past 6 months we have had the pleasure of working with some amazing clients, on some lovely projects!

We wish to extend out thanks to the following folks for their support and patronage:

Jorge – replace existing deckRandy and Mary – replace shower
Daniel and Suzanne – basement development
Erik and Christine – basement development and garage finish
Gina – bathroom remodel
Brad and Lucy – bathroom upgrade
Erika – basement development
Cliff and Rita – kitchen remodel and garage overhead door
Heath and Helen – hot tub room
Koeswanto and Cynthia – basement development
Ryan and Jolene – interior alterations and new windows
Kelly – new deck
Leone – custom maple spindle railing and many other interior upgrades

South Calgary Dreambuilders looks forward to the next 6 months and beyond, and working with the many clients who have already committed their projects to us moving forward!

If you are thinking of renovating any part of your home or yard, please contact us so we can start discussions about what you would like to do.

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Enjoyed the #OpenHouzz @houzz in #yyc last night. Thanks for the invitation to attend – learned a lot and met some great folks.

As a small business, it is always a challenge to stay on top of social media.  There are so many choices, and we get contacted almost daily by somebody with the ‘next best thing’ to help get our presence out there.  A business has to decide what will work for them.  For South Calgary Dreambuilders it is important to be able to reach our prospective clients, and allow our existing and past ones to interact with our company.

As we have built our business, we have chosen several avenues to reach our potential market.  They have included our website, and our blog

Other social media we use includes Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and the one that has the potential to have most impact, Houzz.

Houzz is the site that allows us to create ideabooks with our potential and/or existing clients for their projects, where we can provide expertize in discussions and share our experiences.  It allows us to network with other renovation professionals and suppliers around the world, to source those specialty items that will make your project unique!

Earlier this week we received our first confirmed lead from a client who found us on Houzz, linked to our web page, liked what they saw and contacted us for their project!  If you are not yet on Houzz, we invite you to join and to connect to South Calgary Dreambuilders.  Like any of our social media pages, any of the interaction we have with our clients helps us better serve your needs.

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Watch for us at the McKenzie Towne job and career fair on Saturday, March 22nd, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.!

South Calgary Dreambuilders is excited to be able to partake in our first community job and career fair.

If you are interested in available jobs in the area, in a career in construction or just want to come say say hi, please come down to the McKenzie Towne Hall just off the traffic circle on the 22nd!

With March peeking around the corner, that time of the year when folks start thinking about giving their homes a facelift, building that new deck or upgrading windows or siding is here in full force! Our phone is starting to ring more and more for outdoor spring projects.

Often the smaller projects are jobs that homeowners may consider doing themselves. With a little savvy and a bit of experience, a couple of searches on You Tube, or a little encouragement from your better half, many dive in to test their abilities. This is something that can be very rewarding (if it wasn’t then why would we provide such services to our terrific clients?) if you use the proper approach.

If you take on a project yourself, remember that safety should always come first! Often you might have children running around your work area, or you may be using power tools you are not completely familiar with. Extra precautions are imperative! As well, do not cut corners to save $$$. This will only cost you more in the long run.

That said, if you are thinking of a summer project, or know of someone who is, but are too busy working … or perhaps you would rather spend that valuable time with the family … or maybe you would prefer to crack a cold one, sit back, and watch us slave away on your behalf … then by all means get in touch with us and lets build you something you can enjoy for years to come!

‘Tis the season to soak up the sun, one way or another!

Founder of South Calgary Dreambuilders, your renovation specialists

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Be sure to check out Calgary Home & Design Show this weekend for fresh renovation and design ideas!

Jonathan and Drew Scott, headline the celebrity guests.  The Canadian twins, Stars of W Network’s Property Brothers, have numerous other projects on the go including brand new series Brother vs. Brother.  The Scott brothers are hot ticket items on the real estate and interior design market alike.

This show is sure to provide homeowners thinking of updating their homes some fresh ideas!  Enjoy the show, and be sure to share your finds with us.

See you there!

renovations, renos, show, dreambuilders, calgary,

Visit the Home and Design Show from tonight through Sunday!

When Should You Contact Alberta One-Call?

Alberta One Call is a free service provided so that contractors and homeowners can assure the safety of those doing any work that involves excavating or digging of any type.  Whether you are landscaping, building a new fence or deck, or simply planting a garden, disturbing the ground on your property can cause damage to a buried utility.  Some utilities are buried mere centimeters below the surface.

The result of a contact with a buried line can range from loss of an essential service for you or your neighbours to serious injury or fatalities. The financial costs of repairing any damage you cause to a buried utility will be borne by you, so it is your responsibility to ensure that Alberta One Call is contacted.

Before you disturb the ground for any reason:

Know What’s Below

Contact Alberta One-Call to request that the buried utilities on your property be located and marked at least two full working days before you plan to dig. Remember that during the busy Spring or Fall seasons, it may take longer for utility owners to respond, so contact them early.  Alberta One Call can accept your request up to 14 days in advance, or within a couple of days in the slower seasons.

Know What to Do

Alberta One-Call has a Homeowner’s Guide to their services on their website which will clarify how to contact them and when you need to.  Their Homeowner’s Handbook, linked below, is a terrific guide for why and when to contact them for your project.

South Calgary Dreambuilders recommends always contacting Alberta One Call

Whether you are digging a flowerbed or a fence line, you could damage a buried utility line   which could cost you money or your life.  Have a look at their handbook for contact information.

You can also go directly to the Alberta One Call website to submit a locate request.

So, How Much Will This Cost?

Absolutely nothing, unless for some reason you decide not to call Alberta One Call and hit a line while excavating.

Alberta One Call is a private, not-for-profit corporation primarily concerned with safety and the prevention of damage to underground utilities. Those intending to disturb the ground, whether they are private homeowners or public contractors, can reduce the risk of personal injury and property damage by using the Alberta One Call service. Operators of buried utilities, by being members of the Corporation, reduce the risk of utility damage, service disruption, environmental contamination, loss of product and potential disaster.

Full utilization of Alberta One Call has distinct financial benefits to the digging community, the general public and members of the Corporation. Damage to buried utilities can lead to fatalities, personal injuries, environmental contamination, lawsuits, repairs, product losses, disruptions of essential services and evacuations.

Alberta One Call is working in three distinct areas toward the prevention of damage to buried utilities.

  • Promoting membership in the Corporation.
  • Promoting the use of the Corporation’s service to the digging community
  • Promoting public awareness of:
    • the inherent dangers of disturbing the ground,
    • the need to “Call or Click Before You Dig”,
    • the need to hand expose when working near buried utilities and,
    • the need to “Dig Safely”.

Alberta One Call is the largest and longest-serving one-call service in Canada, with over 700 registered member companies.  They transmit close to two million notifications of excavations out to those members each year.