Hiring the right contractor for the job

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Posted by: from Beaumont
7/13/2012 at 2:49:26 PM

How do I make sure I am hiring the right contractor for general renovations?

Are there any warning signs that I should be aware of that the contractor is not a good choice?

How do I ensure that we stay within the budget & time frame of project?

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Date/Time7/13/2012 at 3:06:01 PM

Consumers are constantly bombarded with the typical recommendations for contractor selection:

Ensure and confirm that the contractor is LICENSED.

Ensure the contractor provides you with multiple REFERENCES.

Ensure that you enter into a written CONTRACT.

As a member of a firm that specializes in the takeover and completion of problem and or troubled construction projects I continue to find it distubrinthat the three generic recommendations mentioned above are often present in the majority of the problem or troubled projects we encounter and or takeover; however, they continue to be the gold standard of consumer contractor selection criteria.

Licenses are a great tool; however, they do not confirm quality, consistency or capability. Contractor Licences are simply licenses to operate in conformance with applicable regulations, legislation or bylaws. In addition to obtaining a copy of a Contractors or Trade license Consumers should also request a copy of their Business license. This will confirm when the business was incorporated and how long they have been operating.

References are a great tool; however, calling a few references on the phone may not provide the accuracy you desire. We have encountered situations where the references provided were relatives and no such work was performed. In addition to calling references visit them. Also ask the contractor to provide you with before and after photographs and or any other pertinent/relevant documentation. In additional to Client references it is also a good idea to look for references from suppliers, vendors or other contractors.

A contract is a great tool; however, if prepared by the contractor, in most instances, favour the contractor. Most contracts we encounter from problem or troubled construction projects are vague, incorrectly prepared and or inaccurate. If a consumer will be investing their hard earned money into a construction project than they should also invest in a consultant or legal advisor to review the contract and ensure the terms are favorable and beneficial to all concerned.

Visit for the full article.

Best of Luck.

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Serge in Woodbridge
Date/Time7/13/2012 at 3:12:45 PM

There is no way for a private person to be 100% safe in a construction transaction. However there are steps that can be taken to help avoid fraud and poor craftsmanship.

1. Make sure the contractor is insured.

2. Make sure the contractor is licensed (where needed).

3. Never give money upfront.

4. Split your written contract in phases and stipulate, that you can terminate the contract without penalty at any time.

5. Pay for materials yourself.

6. Apply holdbacks required by law.

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Chebucto Contracting in Halifax
Date/Time7/13/2012 at 3:15:30 PM

First; Check with your local BBB.

Also ask for at least 2-3 references (from the contractor) and call them.

As for Budget / times... Meet with you contractor before start. Set dates and goals to be achieved by a certain date. Only pay Draws of money as these targets are met. Always hold 10% for a couple weeks after all is completed to make sure no deficiencies arise after completion....

Just make sure you and your contractor both agree to these terms before you start, and remember to have everything on paper.



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Date/Time7/13/2012 at 3:32:55 PM

Hi. Well in an ideal world, many would argue that the contractor would be licensed however, licensed or not, that doesn't account for charactor, honesty, integrity, experience, dependability, and so on. And let's face it, most contractors are not licenced even the very good ones because it's not reqired by law in an unregulated industry.

On the other hand, for new home building they must be registered and authorized by Tarion. Just like when you hire an employee and do all the research and perform referance checks and crafty interviews, you can still end up with an individual providing sub standard results.

The best way is to make sure that at least you are covered is to make sure they have Liability Insurance in case they do mess up or someone who works for them does, and causes damage to your home.

And a ligitamate contractor is registered with the Ontario Workplace Safety Insurance Board (WSIB).

Let me recap, licensing means that they have passed a course or a test, that's it. That in itself doesn't make them great business operators, customer service professionals or contractors.

Another thing, break payments into progress-related rewards. In other words, pay only as stages are completed and meet your approval. Do walkthroughs and inspections with your contractor on a regularily scheduled times through the week or month.

Happy contracting!


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William from All Things Wood in Langley
Date/Time7/13/2012 at 3:35:43 PM

Hi there.

Make sure they are licensed in " paper" to operate in your city/area.

Make sure they are insured for liable at least 2 million.

Make sure they are covered by Workmens Compensation Board and payed up in full.

May help to check out Better Business Bureau to see if there are any conduct issues or complaints from previous clients.

Check out your Lumber stores and ask if they can refer reputable people.

Do not pay them in partial or in full before the work is complete to your satisfaction.This gives you the last playing card letting .

Hope this helps Good Luck with your choice and renovation project.

Wlliam Vester

All Things Wood.

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Date/Time7/13/2012 at 3:42:35 PM

Never hire a contractor who can "save you money" if you pay all or a portion of the job by CASH! Ask for references and, if possible, go see their work....this provides you with the opportunity to see the scope of their work and ask the homeowner questions. Make sure that they are properly insured and licensed with a current WSIB certificate. Also, make sure all necessary permits are taken out.

Just like bad customers there is always the chance of a bad contractor but these suggestions with give you some ownership.

Good luck

Pat Koets

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Date/Time7/13/2012 at 5:01:54 PM

Hi Becky:

All of the comments that you have received are steps that should be done by you. However, there are instances where the contractor is not in an area requiring a licence, and I am one of them.

We have built in, for the past 10 years one of the few areas that is deemed open zoning. We did not require permits or occupancy permits and this would really concern people who were from regional permit areas. The way that we secured the work was to show hesitant customers homes that we had constructed and have them talk to a list of customers. Do not take the potential contractor's short list. You want to choose from many customer choices and see first hand the workmanship and see if there were any problems.

Being registered in the Province of B.C., we carry liability insurance and have to have a bond in place. This is in addition to being represented with a warranty company as well. You can check with your Provincial registry to see if there have been any complaints against any contractor. Also check with your local court registry to see if any small claims action , collections or liens that a contractor may have been involved with.

We always have a bonafide contract with the customer. We normally ask for a small deposit showing good faith, and then payments are made upon completion of that phase of the job. Quite often we do work for absentee customers, and will send them photos of the work completed, before the schedule of the next payment. Being from Vancouver Island, we have done work for customers in Fort MacMurray, the northern interior of the province and even Holland.

We are involved with an ongoing house reno project where the customer was taken advantage of, and we were hired to correct and carry on. The first contractor did about 1/2 the work for all the money, and that does not do anyone any good. However, society is what it is, and there are reputations with car salesmen (I used to be one and proud of it: not the trade as a whole though) and it just doesn't stop there.

If your general is a multitasker and your job is one of many, he may be cheaper, but hands on is not his main objective. You want someone who has the time to look after you, and that is where I would start.

The best of luck. There are still alot of good guys out there, but they don't always have the biggest ad.


Meadowood Homes

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Date/Time7/13/2012 at 7:06:58 PM

Becky, As stated below, it's pretty basic stuff. Make sure the handyman/contactor is licensed and insured. Also, WCB coverage should be stated. As to costing and budgets, it really depends on what is involved. A straight forward new build (walls, decks, bathroom, fence, etc.) is relatively easy to estimate. When it's a renovation, we never know exactly what is hidden and what extra work has to be done. This is why an estimate is just that, ... an estimate.

As to the materials being used, some items are standard costs (may vary a little depending on the supplier), such as: drywall, lumber, decking, etc., but items such as toilets, tubs, paint, can vary quite substantially.

To do a rough comparison, go to the Lowes or Home Depot in South Edmonton and just do a walk through the departments to get an idea. I would suggest discussing you wish list and get /give information about quality, brands, etc. Also, if you have doubts, ask about references, most of us can supply a list.

Hope this helps.



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Date/Time7/16/2012 at 10:03:13 AM

First...dont pay any form of deposit...terms should be payment on completion of work. Many people are enticed by a low quotation and sometimes end up losing their deposit when the contractor doesnt show or doesnt finish.

Get references from other clients that have used the contractors services.

Get an insurance certificate that is project specific and has you as a named insured.

If a price seems to good to be true it probably isnt correct and will likley end up with problems

In Ontario you need a business card and a beat up old truck and you qualify to be a general contractor (you are not but you legally qualify)

Paul Justice

Cell 613-850-8851

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Syed Painting & Handyman Services in Brampton
Date/Time9/14/2012 at 12:33:44 AM

-Make sure he has a contract to sign and carefully read the contract.

-business card

-licence ( depending what kind of work is doing)

-ask random question about the job he he hesitates....let him go!

-Dont pay in advance even its in the contract. because you dont have to pay.

If someone is working as a larger company compare to the handymen and smal independent contractors it doesnt mean that they are the best. they could charge you more and they talk smart. for example in paint jobs, larger businesses will come in uniform and talk nice but believe me if you ask them for help to move the furniture they will say No without thinking and they will charge you for every small thing you want them to do. hiring an independent painting or tiling contract is different. you will save money. do always ask them for references and photos.

Dont pay the larger business more just because they talk smart and they wear nice unifor with their logo on it. think wisely and shop arround for and find the best best price. there is so much competition you will find what you want after doing a little research. If home depot is installing your basic quality entrance door they will charge $2500-3000 but you can get a better quality door with the installtion for $1500-1800.

Remember, this is the trick you the bigger companies to make you feel unsafe if you go anywhere else but them. They make you feel that you are safe when you use their service but in most cases it becomes opposite when you need them. Be smart and call more than one contractors to visit you and give you a quote.

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Date/Time11/8/2012 at 3:13:33 PM

I've worked for the largest renovation company in Canada, I've also helped smaller companies grow. Now I have my own Design + Build company in the GTA

At the end of the day hiring the right contractor comes down to all of the suggestions above. You should have a check list of approximately 30 items of what to look for in a contractor and they should all be checked before making your decision.

In my experience the biggest warning signs are money. Do you really think your going to get the exact scope of work from a contractor who quotes 50% less? Pin down all of your finish materials, get a design and have them referred to and specified in the contract you sign. Get a fixed price contract.

Don't take the cheapest price and don't nickle and dime your contractor. Make sure he has enough money to do the job properly and with the right materials. If an offer sounds too good to be true, it is.

I refer to this industry as the "kaios industry". Unexpected's happen, bottom line. Make sure you prepare for this. A project schedule is a great tool for a contractor. It shows the homeowner they are organized and they have a plan. If a client is concerned about a deadline I typically make a wager agreement. Where if we finish the project by a certain time the homeowner agrees to pay us. If we don't finish on time we pay them. Its fair and works.

Hope I could help

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