With so many contractors and builders out there, making the right choice can seem like a daunting, almost overwhelming task. How do you ensure you do not get taken advantage of? How do you know that the contractor will stand behind its services?

To start out with, it is important not to get swayed by the contractor’s glossy brochure as a pretty brochure may not always boil down to who actually has the right qualifications and experience.

We recommend that you should always take the time to vet a contractor’s background and verify credentials before committing. Once that is done and you are comfortable with your choice, we can help you create a legally binding contract that will help protect you and the investment you are about to make.

Here are five things you absolutely have to do before considering any contractor:

  1. Conduct a thorough background check, check and find past client references.

Make sure you ask for 5-10 previous project references so you can see what other clients have to say about the contractor’s other finished projects.  Speak to past clients and find out if they are satisfied with the contractor, what issues they encountered, and how the contractor dealt with issues when they arose. This is the single most important thing when it comes to picking a contractor.  Do your due diligence. Try to find previous clients that the contractor has not identified, as you are more likely to get a more accurate assessment of what the contractor was like to work with.

  1. The contractor must give you a detailed and specific estimate or quote.

Your contractor should be ready to present a properly documented quote that details everything from top to bottom – all its activities, time frames, details of the work, exclusions, what materials are included and what is not, and of course, the price. This need not be a legally binding contract and should give you a fair chance to negotiate until an agreement is reached between both parties. Once you have a final estimate that you are happy with, we can incorporate this into a contract that we can draw up.

  1. Does your contractor hold a valid licence?

Doctors, engineers, pilots and motorists all need a valid licence to legally perform their duties. So do contractors need a business licence (Ontario) and contractor’s licence (municipality).  Before making any final commitments, check if the contractor holds a valid municipal contractor’s licence and Ontario business licence. To gain legal status as a contractor, the business must be registered both provincially and municipally.

  1. The contractor’s work should be covered by a warranty.

Your contractor should provide a Warranty lasting at least a year, which covers you for any defective work.

  1. The Contractor should have insurance.

Your contractor must provide you with a copy of his insurance policy which covers negligence and other liabilities in completion of the quoted renovation as build.

When you’ve completed these steps, contact the Mackesy Smye Law Firm and we will walk you through what is involved in creating a legally binding contract designed to protect your rights in the event that your contractor fails to complete the job, does the work incorrectly and/or unsafely, fails to provide backup of its warranty, provides financial penalties for missing deadlines and other contractual conditions.