I was reading an article this week about a group of people in Winnipeg who were scammed out of their hard earned money by a painter. They gave this so-called ‘contractor’ varying amounts of money as a deposit and guess what? The work was never done. I received a call yesterday from a woman who was price checking after she had a water heater installed by a ‘friend of a friend’. Turns out our flat fee pricing was considerably lower than what she had been charged as were our hourly rates. Additionally, she didn’t even know if the individual who performed the install applied for the gas permit that was required by her municipality. Needless to say, she was incredibly distressed.
Unfortunately incidents like this occur far too often, but there are steps you can take to protect yourself and ensure that you are hiring qualified, licensed and insured tradespeople.
Call around and get three quotes. Compare prices and time estimations. Don’t forget that the lowest price and quickest turnaround doesn’t necessarily guarantee the best workmanship.
Ask for at least 3 references and check them! A satisfied customer will always be happy to share a positive experience, and some may even be willing to send you pictures of the work that was completed. Look online for reviews and visit the BBB online to see if there have been any disputes lodged against them, and always check the details of any disputes.
Ask for the contractor’s Worksafe BC registration number, GST number and a copy of the business license for the municipality the work is taking place in. Ask about any professional associations that they may be affiliated with.
Accidents happen. Even with the most skilled and experienced contractor. Make sure that contractor you decide on has their own liability insurance. Check your own home insurance coverage too. If something should occur and the contractor decides to come after you for damages, you need to be protected.
Are you being offered labour and parts warranties or a satisfaction guarantee? Reputable companies and individuals will always back up their work.
Work out payment details before the job is started. If it’s a one day job, such as a water heater installation, expect to pay once the work is completed to your satisfaction. If it’s an ongoing project, agree on a payment schedule with your contractor. It is not unreasonable for a contractor to expect periodic payments throughout the project, with the balance being paid on completion. Never, I repeat NEVER pay for any job with cash at the contractor’s request. Not even if you are offered ‘a deal’ if you do. Receipts are the consumer’s proof of purchase and can be used in the event there is a conflict. A contractor requesting payment by cash may very well not be registered with the CRA or WorkSafe BC.
Whether it’s a plumber, carpenter, electrician or general contractor, doing your due diligence before you hire can save you a lot of grief in the future!