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, www.hiringacontractor.com. 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.
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.
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)