CMHC's Hiring a Contractor Fact Sheet
At some time, most homeowners will hire someone to repair or renovate their home. Even a homeowner experienced in home repairs may have to hire a contractor because of the size or level of difficulty of the job.
This fact sheet will help you choose a contractor and work effectively and fairly with the contractor you choose. To view on-line, click here. To order the publication from CMHC free of charge or to download, click here.
Interviewing Renovation Contractors
Once you have identified a prospective contractor, you need to meet the person to discuss your project. The initial interview will help you determine if the contractor is qualified to handle your project, how they relate to you as a prospective customer and what they can offer in terms of ideas and guidance in developing a detailed plan for the work.
In the case of larger or more complex renovations, the rapport between you and your contractor can be particularly important to the success of the project. Use the interview to assess how well you and the contractor communicate and if your questions are answered directly and fully.
During the interview it is important that you ask lots of questions so that you learn as much as possible about the contractor, their past experience and how they operate their business.
Questions to Ask a Contractor
- What is the history of your renovation company?
Experience makes a difference. Find out how and when the contractor got into the business. Ask about previous projects and request a list of past customers you can contact for references. Professional contractors are proud of the work they do and will be happy to provide this information.
- What services do you offer?
Every contractor will provide a specific range of services. Some will include design services while others will work with independent designers. Some have their own staff to do the construction work while others rely on subcontractors. You need to have a clear understanding of what services the contractor can provide for your project.
- Have you done renovations like ours before?
Some contractors specialize in specific types of projects, such as roof repairs or kitchen renovations. Others offer more general renovation services and can handle a wide range of projects. It is important to know that a contractor has experience with projects similar to yours.
- Can we visit one of your current projects?
Visiting a work site can tell you a lot about how the contractor operates. If the contractor has a current project, ask to visit it and take note of details such as how well the site is organized and whether it is clean and tidy.
- Do you carry workers' compensation and liability insurance?
Hiring someone who is not properly insured could put you at considerable legal and financial risk. Professional contractors will provide you with proof of liability insurance and workers' compensation coverage.
- What warranty do you offer on your work?
A professional contractor provides you with a written warranty that spells out what is covered and for how long. And they deliver prompt follow-up service if there are problems or defects in their work. When checking references, ask past customers about the contractor's warranty service performance.
Checking Contractor References
Professional contractors are in the service business. A significant part of the value they provide lies in their ability to communicate with, and satisfy, their customers. That's why it is important for you to ask for customer references. Then followup and contact these homeowners - surprisingly, many homeowners who ask for references never actually check them.
Talking with a contractor's past customers can give you unique insight into how a contractor performs on the job. Don't feel that you are imposing - if the homeowners were not willing to talk with you, the contractor would not have provided their names.
Why Choose A CHBA Member?
If you're looking for a professional renovator or trade contractor, the Canadian Home Builders' Association (CHBA) is the right place to start. The CHBA is the home of Canada's residential construction professionals.
Local Home Builders' Associations located across Canada can provide you with names of contractors based in your community. Association members are established local firms. The education and training programs offered to contractors through the CHBA network help to keep member firms up-to-date on building technology and practices. Membership in the CHBA is a solid indication that a renovator or trade contractor is a committed member of the industry.