We’ve put together a few steps you might want to think about when hiring a contractor to work on or around your home, it is after all, one of your biggest investments.
Step 1: Know Who You’re Dealing With
Good contractors have satisfied customers. Ask contractors to provide customer references for projects similar to yours. Then take the time to call these homeowners and ask if the work was done properly, on time, and on budget. Find out if any follow-up work was needed and if this was done satisfactorily. Also, ask if they would hire the contractor again.
If a contractor is unwilling to provide references, don’t hire them.
Step 2: Make Sure You’re Protected From Risks
When a contractor works on your home, you need to be protected from a number of risks. These risks exist whether you are hiring someone for a simple home repair, a large renovation project, the construction of a new home or cottage, or to work on a rental property you own.
Here are some things you should know:
- A contractor’s business liability insurance can protect you if your home is damaged through your contractor’s fault, or if the contractor causes damage or injury to third parties, like your neighbours.
- Most contractors are required by law to have Workers’ Compensations coverage. If you hire a contractor who does not have this coverage, you face an increased risk of claims or financial loss if a worker is injures on you project.
- A contractor’s valid Business Number or GST/HST number tells you that they are registered with the Government of Canada.
It’s also important that your project complies with local building codes. Any change to the structure of your home, even something very minor, requires a building permit. Homeowners are responsible for obtaining a building permit; however, your contractor can usually get the permit on your behalf.
Inform your home insurance company before any work begins. Since homeowner policies don’t cover construction-related risks or theft of building materials from the work site. Call your home insurance representative to make sure that you have adequate coverage.
Step 3: Get it in Writing
Having a written contract is essential. It helps protect you from the nightmare of lawsuits that can result from accident, work-related injuries or damages to third parties. Even for small projects it’s important to make sure you’re protected. The size of the job does not limit the liability you face if an accident occurs. And accidents can happen even with the simplest home repairs.
What to get in writing:
- A full description of the work and the material and products to be used
- When the work will start and be completed
- How much you will be charged for the work and when you will have to pay
- The contractor’s warranty detailing what is covered and for how long
- The contractor’s business license number (where required by the municipality)
Most often, the contractor will draw up a contract for you to review. Don’t sign it unless you are satisfied that it includes all the necessary information and accurately represents what you have agreed to.