Private Work

At some time, most property owners will hire someone for repairs or renovations.

Even a property owner experienced in repairs may have to hire a contractor or renovator because of the size or level of difficulty of the job. We do private work as well if you decide not to go through your insurance provider.

Who Do You Hire?

The contractor you hire should have the technical, business and interpersonal skills, the tools and the experience needed to do the job you want done. Hire a contractor who has experience with projects similar to yours. This contractor will know what materials and techniques are needed for your work; and even better, about problems with similar work ― and how to solve them.

You won’t offend reputable firms with questions. If a contractor doesn’t seem to know much about the technical details of the job or doesn’t want to talk about them, you may have the wrong contractor.

Getting Estimates or Proposals

How many estimates do you need? There are no hard and fast rules here. Some consumers prefer to get a number of bids before making a decision. Others find that after the interview process, there is one contractor they strongly prefer and only ask that contractor to submit a formal written estimate or proposal. What really matters is that you end up feeling that you have adequate information to make the right choice of contractor.

In a Time & Material contract, you pay the contractor the actual cost for labour, materials, equipment and a percentage for overhead and profit. Time & Material contracts leave costs open-ended, so it’s best to set a limit so costs don’t get out of hand.

Remember, renovation may uncover hidden problems, so make sure you include a contingency budget to cover unforeseen costs.

Don’t automatically choose the contractor who gives the lowest estimate. It may be unrealistically low. The contractor may not have understood the project, may be underestimating what it will take to complete the work, or simply trying to get a price advantage over the competitors. In any case, you could risk unexpected and additional costs, or you may end up with a job that leaves you unsatisfied.

Look for a fair price. Factor in any differences in what the contractors are offering and the skills they bring to the job. Then add the intangibles: reputation, willingness to make suggestions and offer advice, the likelihood of standing behind the work. Choose the contractor you feel will give you the best overall value for your money.

Get it in Writing

Do not hire a contractor who doesn’t have an address, doesn’t want a written contract and offers a discount if you pay cash. This type of underground economy transaction involves many risks and pitfalls that offset any savings to the property owner.

For example, contractors who insist on cash may be unlicensed and uninsured; and without a written contract your cash advances are unprotected. They could neglect to get the required permits or inspections. Product warranties may not be valid if a recognized contractor does not install the items. A cash deal may leave you with no legal recourse if something goes wrong or the work isn’t satisfactory, or if the contractor walks off the job without finishing it. 

A detailed written contract between you and the contractor you hire is essential to any renovation or property repair project, no matter its size. Even the smallest job should be in writing.


Checklist ― Hiring a Contractor

• Write a description of the work you want done, with as much detail as possible.
• Check with your municipal building department to ensure that the work can be done and if zoning approval or any special permits are required.
• Find a contractor
• Establishing the cost: get estimates or proposals
• Make your decision and sign the contractors work authorization and make any necessary deposits and payments


What you need:

• A complete description of the work to be done by the selected contractor
• Samples and literature showing different products that will be used
• Depending on the size of the project, plans or sketches and specifications of the work to be completed
• The contract should contain the correct and complete address of the property where the work will be done and your name.
• Contractor’s name, address, telephone and GST numbers.
• Detailed description of the work, plans (or sketches) and a detailed specification of the materials (type, quality, model) to be used.
• Tentative start and completion dates.
• The price and payment schedule 
• Agreement on who (homeowner or contractor) is responsible for all necessary permits, licenses, inspections and certificates.


Contractor’s responsibilities:

• Have proper Public liability and Property damage insurance in place.
• Identify necessary permits and ensure requirements are satisfied.
• Workers’ compensation for all employees of the contractor or subcontractors for all work carried out under the contractor
• The right to retain a lien holdback as specified in provincial law.
• Removal of construction debris when the job is finished.
• Warranties on all contractor supplied work and materials (in addition to manufacturer’s warranties) for a period of at least one year.


Property owner’s responsibilities:

• Ensuring that all contracted work conforms to zoning bylaws.
• Ensuring adequate working space and freedom of movement for workers, and use of utilities.
• Ensuring prompt payment according to the requirements of the law and the holdback and payment schedule.