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Speak to friends and ask them how much their renovations cost, and search online (which of course you are!) for resources such as the great renovation cost breakdown sheet I found here and this great article on creating a budget, determining costs and subsequent value of what you intend to do. There's some excellent stuff out there and I'm a gonna share it with you!
Ask friends, family and neighbors for their renovation references, experiences and lessons learned. Also look on http://homestars.com/on/toronto for good local resources with good reviews, search http://www.handycanadian.com/ for contractors near you that are also customer rated! Go to http://www.ontariocontractors.com/ for research, to find contractors use great planning tools and more. Always get several references.
Licenses and permits
Take initiative and know what is required for your job and ensure you or your contractor take responsibility for these and permits. Read this about building permits and approvals and these FAQs about licenses and permits.
Ask to see their insurance certificate and feel free to call their insurance company to ensure they will be insured during the time they are doing the work for you. Make sure they have workers compensation and liability insurance for everyone on the job. Also look for damage insurance of around $2 million. Your home insurance will not cover worker injuries, damage to your home or a neighbors, damage to your valuables and many other things. If your contractor does not have insurance there is temporary insurance they can obtain for the duration of your job. Read Why and how your contractor must be insured.
What you can do yourself
Always recognize what you can and cannot do yourself -take a hard look at what you are really are capable of. If you are not a professional electrician, plumber, drywall er -you might be safest to stick to the grunt work as you don't want to end up costing yourself more money and hardship in the long run by messing up a job you you never had the skills to handle in the first place. Always discuss work you plan to do yourself with your contractor, but do this after they give you initial estimates so you can ensure your plan will save you money.
More useful resources
TrustyGuides.com: Home Renovations
CMHC home renovation FAQ
Home renovation tax credit explained
Department of finance -Home renovation tax credit
Return on investment information
Renovation and building costs
CMHC home renovation financing options
CMHC sample home renovation contract