Protect Yourself: Get It In Writing!

For a number of years, the Get it in Writing! campaign has provided homeowners with sound information on how to avoid risks when hiring a contractor for their home projects. The campaign was launched by the Canadian Home Builders’ Association (CHBA) to help consumers protect themselves from underground and fly-by-night contractors.

With the support of Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), the Get it in Writing! campaign hosts information on their website,  The site offers a wealth of good advice to help consumers do it right, with downloadable worksheets and information from both the CHBA and CMHC.

•     Check out the “Get Informed” section to learn about contracts, workers’ compensation, permits, liens and other legal and contractual requirements.

•     “Hire a Professional” outlines how to find and hire a renovator, including checklists and worksheets.

•     “Underground Deals” highlights the risks to homeowners if they hire a contractor who wants to be paid in cash, and does not play by the rules.

•     The downloadable Get it in Writing! brochure is a handy reference tool, and a reminder of the key steps to a renovation project done right.

Due Diligence

The industry is unregulated in Newfoundland and Labrador, so it is up to the consumer to conduct due diligence when hiring a contractor.  Here are some tips to protect yourself:

  • Write, in detail, the job you want or need done.
  • Get informed. Do you need a permit?
  • Research contractors in your area. Ask your friends and neighbours for names.
  • Get a list of qualified professionals from your local Home Builders’ Association or Better Business Bureau.
  • Get estimates from at least three different contractors and ask them for customer references.
  • Call the references from the contractors you like. Be sure to make a list of questions you want to ask them.
  • Hire a professional contractor. Ask for written contracts and proof of Workers’ Compensation or private liability insurance for injury or damage to your home.
  • Agree on the work you want don, the budget and the timeline.
  • Don’t accept offers for cash deals without a receipt. Paying under the table is no deal – it can leave you with no warranty, no recourse for poor workmanship and no liability insurance if an injury takes place on your property.
  • Get it in writing! If you pay under the table for repairs, construction or home renovation, you are participating in the underground economy – and you’re paying more than you think.

For for information, visit the Get It In Writing website.

Get It In Writing


Contracts don’t have to be complicated but they should include:

  • Contractor’s name, address and phone number
  • Full description of work to be done and materials and products to be used
  • Timeline – when the work will begin and be completed
  • All costs that you will be charged and when you will have to pay (deposit)
  • Amount of payment you will hold back as required by the lien legislation in your province
  • The contractor’s warranty
  • A certificate from an insurance company providing proof of the contractor’s business liability insurance
  • A letter of clearance from your province’s Workers’ Compensation program confirming the contractor is registered
  • The contractor’s Business Number or GST/HST number
  • The contractor’s business license number (municipal)