RenoMark™ celebrates five years in Ottawa


By Francie Healy

Mike Martin heard the buzz first.

Owner of Michael J. Martin Luxury Renovations, Mike was Chair of the Greater Ottawa Home Builders’ Renovators’ Council in 2007 and 2008, and attended meetings in Toronto with other renovators’ councils.

And that’s when he started hearing about a program called RenoMark™. He brought the news back to his Ottawa colleagues and, with Jason Labelle, Owner of Dalton Distinctive Renovations, tried to get Ottawa renovators interested in joining the program. Jason was co-chair of the Renovators’ Council at the time, and the next Chair after Mike’s term was up.

It was a harder “sell” than they thought. Renovators weren’t sure; they hadn’t heard about it; they needed to think about it. Some thought it was a gimmick and wanted nothing to do with it.

But Mike and Jason fought hard, and after six or seven months, things began to turn a corner.

Renovators began, bit by bit, to see the benefits of the program to homeowners, and to themselves as dedicated business people.

In a nutshell, RenoMark™ was their shield, their hope, in the battle against the underground economy. They knew what was happening out there. They saw the disasters, heard the stories. They were sick and tired of watching people get ripped off by people calling themselves renovators – people who charged smaller fees for cash payment but no assurances or legal recourse; people who left their clients high and dry or did such bad work the jobs had to be scrapped and started again.

Word began to spread. Ottawa Renovates Magazine began promoting the program and the work of its Ottawa members. More renovators joined. More homeowners started becoming aware of this program that so perfectly protected them and their renovations from start to finish.

Five years must seem like a long time to the early Ottawa RenoMark™ pioneers Mike and Jason. But it’s not really a long time when you realize where the program stands in Ottawa now.

Jason says it’s gratifying to see the large numbers of Ottawa renovators who have jumped on board.

“We’re still trying to educate the public,” he says, “but we’re not running into so much opposition from our colleagues anymore.”

He says the program is “a way of policing our industry. It shows we are people who are serious about our business, about doing it properly.”

Things have changed so much in five years that home owners are now beginning to demand that their renovators are registered with RenoMark™. Realizing this, more and more renovators are recognizing the value of the program for their own reputations, and are signing up. It’s just good business.

“RenoMark™ is the best thing to happen to the renovation industry in the past 20 years,” says John Herbert, Director of the Greater Ottawa Home Builders Association. “There’s a quality of assurance that just didn’t exist before.”

Mike Martin is pretty pleased about it, too. He calls the response to the program “fantastic”. He says it’s much more popular than ever before. He just finished his term as Chair of the Canadian Renovators’ Council, and he’s proud of the fact that RenoMark™ is now coast to coast.

Mike has every right to be proud.

“It was Mike who brought it here,” says Jason. “We worked together on it, but Mike was the driver.”

Renovators agree that RenoMark™ is the best way to get rid of the underground economy, which hurts everyone except the people who take your money and run.

“It will never be gone,” says Mike. “But this is the best chance we have against it.”


What is RenoMark™?

RenoMark™ is a program that renovators pay to join. They must follow strict rules. These rules are made public to home owners, who are advised to be sure any renovator they might hire carries the RenoMark™ logo.

RenoMark™ renovators are held to the highest industry standards. They have to do the big things – carry $2 million liability insurance and enforce strict workplace safety – and the smaller things that give you comfort: pledge to call you back within two business days, for instance.

In addition to insurance, safety and courtesy, they must:

  • Give you a detailed written contract for all jobs, big or small
  • Provide a minimum two-year warranty on all work except minor repair
  • Carry the proper licences and permits
  • Keep their worksite organized and safe
  • In the Ottawa area, be a member in good standing of the Greater Ottawa Home Builders’ Association (GOHBA) and abide by the GOHBA Code of Ethics.
  • Stay current, through consistent and continuing education, in their professional knowledge of building codes, permit procedures and technical skills.