In this interview with Lisa Godel of Godel Construction, she shares what key things you should look for to find a great contractor for your residential construction project! She also talks about what a General Contractor really does (and when you need one on your project) as well as who is really in charge of your construction project.
Jeffrey: I’m talking with Lisa Godel of Godel Construction. Lisa heads up
marketing for the company, and she’s going to tell you a little bit more
about what they do. Welcome, Lisa.
Lisa: Hi Jeffrey. Well, Godel Construction has been around for about 11
years now, and the focus of our business has been on large scale additions
in the residential market. So that encompasses, obviously, two-story
additions or full interior renovations. We don’t do any of the smaller
things like one bathroom or one kitchen. It’s all large scale, large scale
Jeffrey: And one of the questions that we often get from our clients is,
“How do they find a good contractor to work with on their custom home
projects?” So, maybe you could talk a little bit about that.
Lisa: Sure. There are a number of different avenues that clients can
consider when looking for a contractor. One of the most popular ones,
probably, is through referral. I think most people feel more comfortable
choosing a contractor when they know that a friend of theirs or a friend of
a friend has used a contractor and was happy with the work that they did.
But when you’re doing a larger scale, or any other kind of renovation, the
next thing that I would recommend is going through some of the builder
associations that are out there and the ones that I am referring to are
BILD, which is the Building Industry and Land Development Association. It’s
important to know that the contractor that you choose holds the Reno mark
designation which is just a designation that shows that the contractor that
you’re hiring adheres to a code of ethics so that you know that you’re
dealing with someone who is above board in nature.
And the other one that I can recommend is Renovantage, and Renovantage is a
newer association which, again, ensures that contractors have been in
business for, at least, five years and, along with the other associations,
offers proper warranties, at least, $2 million in liability insurance and,
of course, carries WSIB for their employees as well.
So all of these things are great places to go when you’re searching for a
contractor. But, even once you’ve found a name, I think it’s important to
take it a step further, and make sure you check out their website. Make
sure you ask your contractor for references, and finally, especially for
large scale renovations, I would make sure that the contractor takes you
around to show you some of the past projects that they’ve worked on so that
you can see firsthand the scope of their work and the quality of their
Jeffrey: Now that’s a good intro to the next question about, “Is there one
thing that really stands out as most important in selecting a contractor?”
Lisa: That’s a tough question because there are lots of things to consider.
But, in my own opinion, I think that one of the most important things to
keep in mind when you’re choosing a contractor is trust. If you don’t
trust the contractor or the person that you are hiring, you’re not going to
feel good about having them in your house. Because this is someone that
you’re inviting into your home and again on a large scale project,
potentially for a long period of time and you can’t be there looking over
their shoulder or watching their every move.
So you have to feel good about the person that you’ve hired and
comfortable, and you have to feel a good connection between the two of you
because you are going to be spending a lot of time together. And I think
that trust is just really important when you’re hiring a contractor which
is why it’s important to go through all the things that I talked about in
your first question.
Jeffrey: And, along the same lines, in the projects that you do which tend
to be on the larger size, people want to know, “What is a general
contractor, and do they need one on their residential project?”
Lisa: Well, a general contractor is someone who is employed by a client,
generally recommended to them by an architect, and the general contractor
oversees the daily happenings on a construction site and coordinates and
manages the vendors and trades and also communicates the information in a
timely fashion to all the parties there that are involved throughout the
course of a building project. And do you really need a general contractor?
Lisa: Well, I think that if you’re doing a small project you could probably
get away without a general contractor, but that’s like if you’re replacing
a door or a window, or maybe if you’re building a deck or something on the
smaller side. But if you are doing a large scale project, in my own
opinion, I really think that it’s important to hire a professional who
knows what they are doing.
And the reason for this is that there are so many unforeseen things that
can come up in a project, especially when you’re renovating the older homes
in Toronto, which there are so many of them here in our fair city. You
never know what’s going to be behind the walls when you start demoing or in
the ground when you start excavating, and you need to understand when
you’re doing these projects, how and when each stage of the renovation
You need to know how to read plans. You have to be able to assess the
building process as it’s happening and recognize mistakes as they come up
so that they can be fixed in a timely manner. Otherwise, it can become
quite costly, these mistakes, if you don’t catch them until it’s too late.
And the other thing that’s important is that you have to be able to know
and communicate to your clients when decisions need to be made so that the
project can remain on track because if the clients don’t understand when
the windows need to be purchased and when the kitchen needs to be looked
for, all of those things, this can really throw off the timing of the
project so that’s important. And then, of course, you have to make sure
that your contractor understands the building code and safety standards.
So, I guess the bottom line is that if you do hire a general contractor, it
can be a full-time job. Well, it is a full-time job, and in hiring a good
general contractor a client can certainly save themselves time and money.
And I think that what it does is it just makes the whole process smoother
and less stressful for the client so, yeah, I think that, especially for
larger scale projects, it’s important to hire a good general contractor.
Jeffrey: Yeah. And that’s something which we try to communicate to our
clients as well is that if you don’t hire a general contractor, at least,
someone who can look out for all the details, that’s probably something
that you’ll have to take on yourself. People are so busy these days with
work and family. Do they really need, as you said, almost a full-time job
of managing a very complicated process like a construction job?
Lisa: That’s true and I think that sometimes, especially again, I keep
harping on these large scale renovations, but that’s when things like this
mostly happen, is that clients can get what we’ve come to call, decision
overload. There can be so many decisions that need to made that it can be
quite overwhelming, so the general contractor just helps to guide the
clients through the process in a less stressful, hopefully, manner.
Jeffrey: So final question is, “Who on the job is actually in charge of
the construction project?
Lisa: Well, in our case, at Godel Construction, we have Alan Godel is the
owner of the company, and he acts as the construction/project manager.
However, we do have a number of people that we use to manage the sites, in
conjunction with Alan, to help coordinate the trades and make sure that
things are running smoothly.
So, Alan works in conjunction with these site supervisors to make sure that
everything is being coordinating and that things run smoothly. And also to
have someone on the job to move things along and do smaller things.
They’re working site supers so that if some things need to be built along
the way, some small framing work, they can help out along with the crews
that are already there just to move things along and make sure that, again,
the project is staying on track.
So, in our case, I think that’s it’s kind of a team effort. You have Alan
who is overseeing the projects that we’re running, and then you have the
site supervisors that are managing the individual sites.
Jeffrey: I think that’s a very sensible approach. It really gives the
client a lot of confidence that there’s someone on-site on a regular basis
who knows the details, but that there’s also someone overall who is
bringing that experience to the job and helping, again, an extra layer
oversight on the project.
Jeffrey: Okay. Fantastic Well, thank you, Lisa. If people want to get in
touch with you, what’s the best way for them to do that?
Lisa: People can email us at email@example.com, that’s G-O-D-E-L
Construction.com, or please feel free to call us at 416-421-6111.
Jeffrey: That’s perfect. Lisa, I’d like to thank you so much for being a
part of this today, and I’m sure that everyone listening really appreciates
all of your feedback.
Lisa: My pleasure. Thank you very much for having me.
You can contact Lisa at 416-421-6111 or find out more at GodelConstruction.com