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Mike Holmes: Always listen to that little voice of doubt:

One of the best tools every homeowner has is instinct. How many times have you been in a situation in which a voice tells you, “This isn’t right. Do not do this.” That voice becomes very important as you move forward with home renovations and repairs.

I talk a lot about planning a reno right. There are basic things I always tell homeowners, such as slow down, educate yourself, get a maintenance inspection, or hire a qualified pro to examine your home before making any major decisions. But heeding your instinct deserves more attention.

The truth is, if it doesn’t feel right it probably isn’t. Let me give you a scenario.

A homeowner had a major fire in her home. Her insurance company sent three contractors to look at the damage and give quotes. The insurance company chooses the cheapest contractor, but the insurers needed the homeowner to sign off on the contract for the work to start.

The homeowner refused to sign. Why? Because when the contractor started telling the homeowner how he was going to fix her home she knew right away this wasn’t the right person for the job.

For example, he said he was going to clean the smoke damage and paint over it. He wasn’t going to replace water-damaged materials, fix the electrical, or rebuild sections of her house that clearly needed to be torn down and reconstructed. It was basically going to be a patch job, which causes more problems than it solves.

The insurance company kept telling the homeowner she had to sign the contract if she wanted her home fixed. But her gut kept telling her not to sign.

She knew that if she signed the contract with that contractor, her home wouldn’t get the repairs it needed in order to be safe and structurally sound, and she would have no one to blame but herself.

Every single job I’ve been called in to “rescue” has a similar story. The homeowner at some point realizes things aren’t going the way they should.

The contractor doesn’t show up on time, hesitates to give proper references or doesn’t explain the job in detail. Or maybe their payment plan doesn’t make sense, the work doesn’t look right, the job site seems unsafe or there are several delays. And, the contractor always says it’s someone else’s fault.

The homeowner is usually under pressure or thinks the job has gone too far, so they go against their instincts — and end up paying for it with bad workmanship. What they should do is pull the plug on the job immediately and find someone else.

It’s not uncommon for homeowners to be pressured to make a decision they know isn’t right. We see this all the time — after floods, a major winter storm, termite problems, plumbing issues and so on. Homeowners think they need to solve the problem right away.

In some cases, you can do temporary fixes (such as putting a tarp over a roof leak or boarding up a broken window) to give yourself some time to find the right pro. But, the end goal must be to get the job done right. If not, you’re wasting money and making a bad situation worse.

It’s customary to get multiple quotes. You can even submit quotes to your insurance company from licensed contractors you find yourself. The insurance company will decide how much of the costs it will cover, but homeowners have a part to play.

It might take some extra negotiating with the insurer, and you might even have to take on some of the costs yourself — but it’s worth it if it means getting the job done right.

I don’t expect homeowners to be experts. I do expect them to do their homework. If what a contractor tells you doesn’t make sense, even after you’ve asked questions and talked to other pros, cut your losses and move on. Otherwise, your losses are only going to get bigger.

Mike Holmes, Postmedia News