Ask Questions – It’s Your Right.

6 Questions to ask before you renovate.

Construction…. Along with being one of the biggest industries in our country and one of the largest drivers of our economy, in the word brings with it a lot of stereotypes, horror stories and a general sense of anxiety for many Canadians. 

Unfortunately due to the highly unregulated nature of the construction industry in Canada you don’t have to look very far to hear of a contractor running off with a client’s money, delivering a product that failed, or worse.  

The other side is people who come along after a project is done and go to do work properly just to find out the previous owner’s nephews sisters brother in law or friend slapped together a renovation that is unsafe, not up to code and now going to cost the new owner even more to fix the additional problems left behind. 

At this point you are probably recalling someone you know or your own experience that falls in line with one of these examples. This is why our team at All In Contracting is constantly pushing for tighter regulations, and spending energy trying to help educate the general public. 

So how do you protect yourself? 

We have put together a quick checklist. It is really important that you do your due diligence, a 500$ job can easily turn into a 40,000$ dollar disaster, and we see this in our restoration work. Your home is your biggest asset, only trust professionals. 

1 Do they have a business licence? 

Any construction business operating requires a business licence with the local municipality,  if they don’t have one, a by-law officer can shut down your project and even evict you from your home in severe circumstances. 

Most cities have an online listing that you can check. 

2 Do they have insurance? 

It only takes one misplaced screw or nail to flood a basement or to put a hole in a sewage line. Your home is probably your biggest asset, accidents happen or worse negligence and this can result in costly insurance claims. If your brother in law floods your basement is he going to fix your home?  A professional business will be able to provide proof of insurance upon request. Minimum insurance recommended would be 2 million. 

3 WCB coverage 

All workers in Canada are required to be covered by WCB,  proof of coverage is as easy as logging onto the WCB web site and putting in their business name.  If a worker falls and gets hurt in your home, WCB will cover all damages, if you hire Uncle tom’s friend and he falls off your roof – you may be faced with a lawsuit. This has already happened many times in Canada. 

4 References

A reputable company will be able to provide references. If they are new to business then ask for personal references, take some time to chat with your contractor, Google them and actually call their references.  Every contractor has a job or two that has gone sideways, that is the reality of construction.

Things go wrong, accidents happen, and suppliers have delays. 

The questions I would ask are these, 

1 Were they professional?

2 Did they complete the work? 

3 How were they to deal with when problems arose? 

4 Did they complete work properly and were you happy with the quality? 

5 Contracts 

Never ever, ever, hand money over to a contractor without a contract or without doing the previous 4 steps. A reputable business will provide you with some sort of contract, outlining the work to be completed , the time frame, and procedures for adding extra costs. Make sure both parties sign it and get a copy. Our business does these online and you get emailed a copy as soon as it is signed.  Also ensure you have established a clear channel of communication for your project.  We use an online tool that allows us to communicate with our clients in real time, sharing photos, files and information. Your contractor doesn’t need to have an app but make sure you are communicating through writing and you have a place that is being updated for reference later. 

6 Permits 

I get calls every single day by potential clients who want projects done, and specifically ask to avoid permits every single day. I tell those potential clients I can’t do their work for them.  I am not sure where the misconception came from in that city and building inspectors are people you want to avoid. The cost for a legal suite permit in Kelowna BC is roughly $850 the cost for general renovation is $175 plus a small percentage on the total amount being spent. The professionals that issue these permits and complete the inspections are there to protect you. They double-check the work completed by your contractor and contrary to popular belief they want to help you in any way they can. They will always save you money in the long run and will ensure that all the proper safety measures are in place and that the work was done up to the building code. Don’t take your contractor’s word for it – use the system to ensure they are doing their work properly.  

The unfortunate truth is that most people will look out for themselves long before they look out for anyone else. You need to take steps to protect yourself and your assets. 

Don’t become one of those  horror stories your friends tell.