Manny started his company with the goal of taking on the difficult renovation projects. He believes that no project is too challenging with the right mindset, and jokes to his clients, “I can move the CN Tower but it’s just gonna cost a lot of money and take a lot of time.”
He speaks with the team about starting his business, and how to correctly renovate your house. We ask if contractors are paid fairly.
The Hardcore Renos story
Manny launched Hardcore Renos 11 years ago after leaving the film industry. Due to a dip in the industry from technological advancements and the 2008 Financial Crisis, he chose a new path. After bumping into a high-school friend working in the construction industry, he switched professions and began laying the groundwork for what would become Hardcore Renos.
Manny found that the construction industry was slow to adapt to change. It shied away from things like social media and the sharing of ideas, things that Manny wanted to embrace. “I was really interested in sharing, moving forward, sharing knowledge, and trying to network, and that’s why social media worked really well for me and grew really quickly and I’ve been doing it ever since.”
Putting in the work
Entering the industry, Manny knew that it was going to take a lot of hard work. “It wasn’t until four or five years (after starting in the industry) that I started to make a mark and people started to notice what I was doing.”
He still finds that some people entering the industry want to jump to the front of the line, but putting in that work can teach a new contractor a lot. He learned that the most valuable thing to do is to really read his clients. The real fear for contractors is getting burned by a bad client or supplier, so doing that work before starting a job is key.
“Read them (the client) more than they read you… we’re always taught that you meet a client and they’re supposed to interview the contractor… (but you) are doing the exact same thing ten-fold. You have to figure out who this client is, what their dynamic is, what their purpose is. Figure out what their careers are, how they are personality-wise. You need to connect.”
It’s true. Simon Sinek, famous author of the best-selling marketing book, “Start with why” would tell you much the same. Ask why they want to do the renovation, ask about what makes them happy and what makes them sad. Are there ways a contractor can help resolve those problems?
The communication between contractor and homeowner needs to be clear and in writing to avoid scope creep and budget mishaps. Most breakdowns between parties happen because of miscommunication and misunderstanding.
Prepping for your reno
For upgrading your home, Manny says the best to do is research, but make sure it’s real research. Don’t try to educate your contractors on something you googled once, but make sure you’re informing yourself so you can make the right decision.
The internet can have some good information, but one source you have to avoid is renovation shows. “Across the board, as a blanket, every reno show out there right now, outside of “This Old House’ is a fabrication.”
These shows make costs seem lower as many homeowners receive items or services for free, which creates false expectations in the minds of most viewers. Doing research is good, but just make sure it’s the real stuff.
Are contractors paid fairly?
Although the costs can be high, Manny thinks that contractors are paid fairly. “They don’t gauge. I don’t think they’re at the top, I don’t think they’re at the bottom.” The reason why the bill may be a little steeper than you might expect is that there are a lot of extra costs involved. On top of the work and materials, contractors have to cover their office and phone expenses, insurance, and other overhead to run their business. But if they do good work for you, it will be worth it.
When Manny finishes a project he always tells his clients, “please do not bubble wrap this, actually use this. This work that has been done for you guys to use now, so use it, abuse it, if it gets nicked here and there, that’s fine we can slap a coat of paint on it.”
The top tips for upgrading your home
If you use it, the most popular room to renovate in your house is your kitchen. Making your kitchen beautiful is how you add a ton of value to your home. Bathrooms always impress, too. Kitchens and bathrooms are the most expensive, they take a ton of mechanical work like plumbing and electrical. Creating an energy efficient home is a smart financial decision. In floor heating, as opposed to forced air furnaces are more efficient and don’t spay allergens and recycled air around your house. Finally, making sure that you maximize the storage in your house can also go a long way in making your life easier. If you want to increase your sale price, focus on kitchens, bathrooms, storage, and energy efficiency.
However, there may be no better investment making your house more energy-efficient. “I love a beautiful kitchen, I love a beautiful bathroom spot, but I also love really small utility bills… I don’t want to do a renovation and all of a sudden my utility bills drop 10%, I want to see my utility bills drop half if not greater.”
The bottom line
But whatever you’re doing, Manny’s number one tip is to make sure the renovation works best for you and your household. “(My clients) need to educate me on who comes through the front door, who comes through the back door, where the kids come through, what do the kids do, where do they drop their bags. You need to figure out the dynamic of the family. I tell my clients to do that for every single room.”
Hear the full conversation with Luke, Hyder, Tyler, and Manny on your trusted Canadian personal finance podcast, Real Money Talk. If you like what Manny has to say, check out his Hardcore Reno podcast.