Build a solid relationship with your home renovation contractor
(NC)—People do home renovations for many reasons, but the one constant – no matter what type of project you are planning – is playing it smart when it comes to dealing with contractors. And that's why the Ontario Ministry of Consumer Services offers these helpful tips:
First, find a contractor you trust: Ask friends and family to recommend a contractor they've had success with, preferably one they've worked with on a project similar to yours. When you've found a contractor, ask for at least three references – again from people who have done projects like yours. If possible, visit the references' homes and take a look at the renovations for yourself. Ensure that the contractor has all the right licences – for gas installation, electrical work, plumbing and the like – to do your job, or a clear plan for sub-contracting that work to licenced tradespeople, and has made you aware of all the necessary building permits. Finally, do some online research on the contractor, and check the Consumer Beware List (www.ontario.ca/ConsumerBeware) to see if he or she has been the subject of a consumer complaint or legal action.
Second, get your contract in writing: Your contractor should give you a written agreement listing in detail all the work to be completed, the timelines, and the payment schedule. Under the table, cash-only deals may seem great, but what happens when things don't go as planned and, in the worst case scenario, you attempt to take legal action against a contractor? Without a contract, it is hard to prove wrongdoing. Any responsible contractor knows that a written agreement protects both parties.
Third, know your rights and responsibilities about how and what a contractor can charge you. Did you know that under Ontario law, home renovation companies cannot charge you more than 10 percent above the price of a written estimate without a change order that you agree to? And did you know that if you sign any deal with a contractor in your home, you have a 10-day “cooling-off” period to change your mind and cancel? These are just two consumer rights in Ontario that are useful to be aware of when dealing with a contractor on a home-renovations project.
There is a lot to consider when thinking about home renovations – but when they are successful, it's a win-win situation for both the homeowner and the contractor.
For more information, visit: http://www.sse.gov.on.ca/mcs/en/Pages/Homes_Repairs_and_Renovations.aspx
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