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Your rights when starting home renovatoins or repairs

Your rights when starting home renovations or repairs

Help protect yourself and your home by knowing what your rights are before starting a home renovation. Your home is your biggest investment, learn how to hire a reliable contractor and see what you need to include in your contract with them.

Ask the right questions:

  • Can I get a reference from people who have had a similar work done in their homes?
  • Will my estimate be included as part of your contract?
  • Do they have an HST number?

When you are looking to hire a contractor make sure to:

  • Make a list of exactly what you want done. Remember that changing plans in the middle of a project will cost extra money
  • Set a clear budget
  • Ask for recommendations from friends and neighbors.
  • Consider dealing with a local company. This may make it easier to check references, enforce a warranty or have follow up work done.
  • Get a written estimates from at least three contractors.
  • Remember that good contractors ask a lot of questions so they can understand and plan out the project.
  • Ask if the contractor if they carry full and proper WSIB and Liability Insurance?
  • Do Not go for a deal that sounds too good to be true.

Once you have a contractor in mind

Before you sign a contract for home renovations or repairs, remember to:

  • Check the Consumer Beware List to see if there are any complaints or changes against the contractor.
  • Check with the Better Business Bureau, Chambers of Commerce and your city for any information they may have on the contractor.
  • Get a written estimate or contract before the works begins.
  •  Never pay the full amount of the contract before the work is done. This will help ensure that the contractor will finish the job. It will also protect you from losing money if the company goes out of business or declares bankruptcy before finishing your project
  • Ask if the contractor for a copy of their liability insurance – Very important!

Planning on home improvements?

We have all heard at least one building contractor horror story in our, if not more. I am almost certain that everyone has a tale or two of damage, scam, shoddy workmanship, and builders who disappear in the middle of a project, never to return again. In fact with the exception of auto repair shops and car dealerships, no other industry has generated as many complaints, according to the Council of Better Business Bureaus. Finding a reliable and qualified contractor is not as easy a task as one would seem.

That said, you can put the odds on your side, however, by ensuring you hire only licensed contractors.

The financial risks of Un-licensed / Un-insured Contractors /Handymen

Having an un-licensed and/or un-insured contractor perform renovations and or repairs to your home you are putting yourself at tremendous risk financially. You run the risk of being subject to anyone, or even all of the following if the hired contractor is injured while working on your home:

  • Medical bills for the injured contractor /handyman
  • Lawsuit by the contractor(s)
  • Increase in insurance policy cost or cancellation of policy by your insurance company

Whether the contractor is remodeling your entire home or just fixing a discounted downpipe, you can open yourself up to a significant liability as a homeowner.

A licensed contractor doesn’t necessarily mean competent, it does however, imply a certain level of professionalism and suggests that the contractor is committed to his or her work. Licensing can protect you from a large number of potential problems. Such as the following:

  • Unlicensed usually means uninsured: If you use a contractor who is uninsured, it means that the contractor will have no way of reimbursing you for any property damage he or she may cause, leaving you paying the price. Likewise, if the contractors’ carelessness leads to injury or damage to someone else’s property, the problem is likely going to be yours.
  • No coverage under homeowner’s policy: Many homeowners believe it is safe to use an uninsured contractor, assuming that any damages incurred would be covered under their homes insurance policy. That said, this isn’t the case. Most homeowners’ policies require that any work to the property be done by licensed contractors; coverage is often specifically excluded for damages by “bootleg” contractors.
  • Poor workmanship: There are some unlicensed contractors that do some good work. Not all poor quality work is done by an unlicensed contractor, but if there is shoddy work done, it’s usually done by an unlicensed contractor because they are not subjected to meeting specific standards, they are often untrained, less experienced and unqualified to do certain types of work.
  •  The safety hazards: that go along with the sloppy work of an unlicensed contractor could have serious consequences. In a nut shell it’s a hazard if the work is not done properly.
  • Con artists: Scams in the construction industry especially in the home improvement business have become almost legendary in the last few years. Just because the carry a hammer doesn’t make them a qualified contractor, and often targeting the elderly. This happens so often that it has made national news any number of times. However, unwary homeowners continue to be taken in by these con artists who more often than not, promise unrealistically low prices or use a scare tactic to seal the deal. In the end the home owner usually ends up with either an incomplete or low quality project – and several hundred, or even thousands of dollars less. Not to mention, now they have to hire and pay a professional contractor to undo the damaged caused or finish the work that the con artist didn’t complete.
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