Hiring A Contractor? Check out these tips

At some point it is possible that you may want to hire a contractor to complete some major (or minor) home repairs and renovations.  Once you’ve actually decided to hire someone, it’s essential that you take time and find the right contractor.
This is NOT a process that should be rushed into!
The contractor you hire will largely affect how smoothly the project goes.  You should be looking for a contractor that has the right experience and tools to get your  job done.  Look for someone who has experience with projects like yours and who is familiar with the techniques and materials needed to complete your job.
Here are some simple tips to keep in mind when hiring a contractor.

Getting the ball rolling.

Before you actually start talking to each contractor you need to do a few simple things.
  1. Write down a description of the work you want done (use as much detail as possible).
  2. Check with your municipal building department to make sure that the work can be done and if you need to get any special approvals or building permits.
  3. Ask around for recommendations and contact information for contractors.  This includes your friends, family, neighbours, building supply outlets and local home-builder and renovator associations. You should be asking about:
  • dependability of each referral
  • quality of their work
  • overall experience with that person or company.

Picking the contractor.

Once you’ve finished these starting steps you’re now ready to find a contractor.
Start talking to the contractors that have been referred to you.  Questions for each should include:
  1. How long have you been in business?
  2. What work are you, or your subcontractors, licensed to do?
  3. What kind of work to you specialize in?
  4. Have you done a similar job before?
  5. Will you use your own crew for the work or will you subcontract all or part of the job?
  6. What work schedule will you follow?
  7. What kind of warranty do you offer and what does it cover?
  8. Will you provide a written contract?

You’ve narrowed down the list now what?

Ideally you narrow down the list to two or three (more if you feel it is necessary), now it’s time to dig a little deeper.
  1. Ask contractors for their business licence number and check with the local licensing office and the firm’s insurance company for public liability and property damage insurance and workers’ compensation.
  2. Ask each possible choice for references from past customers.
  3. Check with the Better Business Bureau to make sure there are no complaints registered against the contractor
  4. Ask each one for an estimate which should also include:
  • A complete description of the work to be done                      
  • Samples/literature showing different products that could be used
  • If it is a large project, plans/sketches and specifications of the work to be done.

Get it in writing.

Once you’ve decided on the contractor the next step is to get a contract.  The contract should contain:
  1. Correct/complete address of the property where the work will be done
  2. Your name and address
  3. Contractor’s name, address, telephone and GST numbers
  4. Detailed description of the work, with plans/sketches and details of the materials to be used
  5. The right to retain a lien hold back as specified in provincial law
  6. A clause stating that work will conform to the requirements of all applicable codes, such as building, safety and fire codes
  7. Start and completion dates
  8. The price and payment schedule
  9. Agreement on who is responsible for all necessary permits, licenses, inspections and certificates
  10. A description of Contractor’s and Homeowner’s responsibilities (see next two sections).


Contractor’s responsibilities.

Here is a list of responsibilities that your contractor should cover.
  1. Public liability insurance.
  2. Property damage insurance.
  3. Identifying any necessary permits and ensuring all legal requirements are satisfied.
  4. Workers’ compensation for all employees of the contractor or subcontractors.
  5. All work carried out under the contractor, including work done by subcontractors.
  6. Removal of construction debris when the job is finished.

Homeowner’s responsibilities.

You as the homeowner will also have some responsibilities, including;
  1. Ensuring that all contracted work conforms to zoning bylaws.
  2. Ensuring adequate working space and freedom of movement for workers, and user of utilities.
  3. Ensuring prompt payment according to the requirements of the law and the hold back and payment schedule.



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