Get it in Writing!

A home renovation or repair project can be an exciting prospect. It can also be a nightmare if handled poorly. For many of us, the only route to go is to hire a contractor. This person will take care of the details from concept to completion. A good contractor will provide a quality product that will stand the test of time as well as provide years of enjoyment by the homeowner. Finding a good and reputable contractor is the challenge. There are many great ones out there but there are also a lot of sub-standard ones too.

The Canadian Home Builders’ Association advocates that everybody undertaking a home renovation or repair project follow a 3-step process: Get Informed – Hire a Professional – Get Control. All three steps involve some research and due diligence by the homeowner. So how do you take care of all this? Do your homework and Get it in Writing!

A good contractor will provide a written contract that will outline the project plan in detail, the timetable for work to be performed including start date and completion date, and the payment schedule for all of this. If the contractor is taking care of any permits, as they often do, this will also be itemized. The contract will also address the contractor’s warranty for the work and that the contractor is fully licensed and insured. The contract should definitely be signed by all parties prior to the commencement of work. Make sure you get your copy. These are all important things for your protection.

The “Get it in Writing!” campaign is being carried out by the Canadian Home Builders’ Association with support from the Government of Canada.

If you’re planning on hiring a contractor to do construction, renovation, or repair work on your home, a good start point is to go to the “Get it in Writing!” web site. It has a wealth of information that will help you including an online brochure in PDF format that outlines the things to know and the steps to take to help ensure a successful project.

How can you protect yourself if something goes wrong and you don’t have your contract in writing? As often as not, you are on your own without any remedy.

There are many experienced and reliable contractors working in your community—highly skilled professionals who do business the right way. But not all contractors play by the same rules. Some cut corners to offer low prices as long as nothing is written down, and you pay them in cash. You should know about the risks involved in “under-the-table” cash deals before you decide to hire a contractor.