Go for value and avoid surprises on home renovations
(NC)—A home renovation project, big or small, can have all kinds of benefits. But renos can be expensive, and that's why the Ontario Ministry of Consumer Services has a few recommendations for anyone looking to spend wisely.
First, find the right contractor for your project and your budget by asking around. When you find a contractor that seems right for your job, ask for at least three references from people who had similar work done and were looking to pay about the same amount as you. 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.
When you decide on a contractor, make sure he or she lists in detail all work to be completed, the start and end date of the project, and any other relevant timelines, and ask the contractor to put all that information in a written agreement.
Be sure there's also a payment schedule in the contract. It should identify how much you are going to pay up front (no more than 10 percent is the generally recommended amount), when other payments must be made, and when the full balance is due. Under Ontario law, the final price of any goods or services you buy cannot be more than 10 per cent over the original written estimate. If a change is necessary, your contractor should discuss it with you and ask you to approve a “change order” that describes the new work and includes a revised estimate. You should also be aware 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.
Finally, make sure you're familiar with municipal regulations, such as building permits. And avoid “under the table” agreements. They might seem like a great way to save money (for example, by avoiding the HST) but renovating without a contract is against the law, and leaves you vulnerable if the job goes bad and you need to take legal action.
For more information, visit: http://www.sse.gov.on.ca/mcs/en/Pages/Homes_Repairs_and_Renovations.aspx
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