The industry is unregulated in Prince Edward Island, so it is up to the consumer to conduct due diligence when hiring a contractor.
Here are some tips to protect yourself:
■ Write, in detail, the job you want or need done.
■ Get informed. Do you need a permit?
■ Research contractors in your area. Ask your friends and neighbours for names.
■ Get a list of qualified professionals from your local Home Builders’ Association or Better Business Bureau.
■ Get estimates from at least three different contractors and ask them for customer references.
■ Call the references from the contractors you like. Be sure to make a list of questions you want to ask them.
■ Hire a professional contractor. Ask for written contracts and proof of Workers’ Compensation or private liability insurance for injury or damage to your home.
■ Agree on the work you want done, budget, and the timeline.
■ Don’t accept offers for cash deals without a receipt. Paying under the table is no deal – it can leave you with no warranty, no recourse for poor workmanship and no liability insurance if an injury takes place on your property.
■ Get it in writing! If you pay under the table for repairs, construction or home renovation, you are participating in the underground economy – and you’re paying more than you think.
Contracts don’t have to be complicated but they should include:
■ Contractor’s name, address, and phone number
■ Full description of work to be done and materials and products to be used
■ Timeline – when the work will begin and be completed
■ All costs that you will be charged and when you will have to pay (deposit)
■ Amount of payment you will hold back as required by the lien legislation in your province – The contractor’s warranty
■ A certificate from an insurance company providing proof of the contractor’s business liability insurance
■ A letter of clearance from your province’s Workers’ Compensation program confirming the contractor is registered
■ The contractor’s Business Number or GST/HST number
■ The contractor’s business license number (municipal)