Check out contractors

PUBLISHED : Friday, 23 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 23 March, 2012, 12:00am

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Choosing the right contractor for home renovations is a crucial first step.

One option is the Hong Kong Interior Design Association (HKIDA), which provides a resource for those wondering who to contact, according to Timothy Cheng, an interior designer and architect, who is also chairman of public relations for the HKIDA, and owner of TiRon Interior Architecture.

The benefit of going through the HKIDA or Hong Kong Designers Association is that their members are licensed, Cheng says. Hiring an unlicensed contractor will leave you with very little recourse should something go wrong.

Once you have found someone, make sure your designer or contractor specialises in the style or type of work you want done. Cheng advises looking through portfolios to ensure their design matches your requirements.

It is also advisable to get references. The contractor will most likely give you recommendations from clients who had positive experiences, so call and ask specific questions about workmanship that is important to you. For instance, whether the contractor cleaned up his work area, kept to his timeline or final invoices matched the quote.

For large projects, you can hire a designer to take charge of the whole job since many companies are set up to handle both design and renovation work.

Designers and architects may also provide services to oversee the project, which may include obtaining necessary permits, hiring a contractor and supervision of the work.

At the first meeting with a potential contractor, get to know them and their work. Ask questions such as how long they have been in business, what work they are licensed to do, what they specialise in, have they done a similar job before, will they use their own crew for the work or subcontract all or part of the job, what work schedule will be followed, what kind of warranty is offered and what does it cover?

Most importantly, Cheng says be sure you get along with your contractor as you will need to discuss any problems and explain what is going on as the project takes shape. You also want someone willing and able to help refine plans where possible.

Ask your contractor to prepare a written quote. Compare it with at least two others, and make sure that everything you ask for is included.

'Make sure when you do compare quotes, that you are comparing apples with apples,' says Cheng, adding that the lowest quote is not often the best. 'It is important to also compare things like quality workmanship, responsibility, attitude and knowledge,' he advises.

If it's a large sum of money involved, look at hiring a lawyer and signing a written contract. This should clearly list the steps the contractor will take from beginning to end of your job, supplies included, the payment schedule and the timeline for the job.