We are going to renovate our home. What steps can we take to find a contractor to complete our project 'without any surprises'?

Selecting a good reputable contactor will be the most important decision you make. You should seek a number of quotes for the work to be performed.  Ask for references and check them out. You can determine if the contactor is licensed with the City. You should also ensure if the contactor is insured and registered with WSIB. Certain projects will require a building permit. All work should be completed in accordance with the Ontario Building Code and any relevant municipal bylaws.

Any agreement should be in writing signed by both parties.  Review any agreement carefully to ensure it correctly details the work, including the cost and timelines for the work to be
completed. Do not rely on any verbal statements. Amend the document to address any concerns or additional detail. Both parties should initial and date any handwritten amendments. Pay particular attention to the payment terms and any exclusions. Both parties should retain a signed copy of the document.  Any changes or extras to the work along with any resulting cost consequences should be in writing and signed by both parties before any change or additional work is commenced.  You may wish to have your lawyer review any quote/agreement prior to signing the document.