Contractor: The key to your project’s success

Satisfaction goes hand-in-hand with checking and precision. The right contractor can make a huge difference in your project’s success.

Whether for renovations or maintenance, it seems there’s no end to home-related expenses. Some very large amounts can be involved. With this in mind, you’ll want, of course, to get your money’s worth.

You should not entrust the work to just anyone who comes along. Depending on the size of the job, ask two or three contractors – ideally recommended by people you know and holding appropriate licences from the Régie du bâtiment du Québec – to submit a detailed bid in writing. Insist on receiving this bid in person before you can discuss it.

Check on the skills and the situation of each of them:

  • How long have they been in business?
  • Do they have their own team, or do they turn over part of the work to subcontractors?
  • Are they properly insured?
  • When and how do they clean the premises?
  • Do they look after obtaining all necessary permits?
  • Are they familiar with the technical details of the work to be conducted? If they refuse to talk about it or don’t ask many questions about the work and what you need, they are probably not the people you want!
  • Are their address, contractor’s licences and their work accident and liability insurance certificates valid?
  • Are there complaints against them recorded with the Office de protection du consommateur?
  • What type of warranty are they offering, and what does it cover?

Planning your renovationThe law

You should be aware that the Civil Code of Quebec states that a contractor must provide a one-year warranty “against poor workmanship existing at the time of acceptance or discovered within one year after acceptance.” The contractor is also responsible for five years for any loss resulting from a defect in construction or in production of work.

Beyond warranties, the contract

One of your best protections remains your contract. The clearer and better documented it is, the more written arguments you’ll have in any legal recourse.

If you have used the services of an architect or technologist beforehand, include the plan and specifications in the contract, adding the complete list of work that must be done. Remember that the price encompasses only what appears in the contract. Don’t forget that renovation work may turn up hidden problems. Make sure the contract sets the rules of the game (management, invoicing, etc.) should this come up.

Contractors make a differenceIn the end, the best way of avoiding trouble is to plan all your projects carefully and to keep a very detailed file. Even for minor projects, demand a precise description of the work and of the products to be used (brands, colours, finishes, etc.). Above all, do not neglect setting a precise timeline.

If a down payment is demanded, negotiate the smallest amount possible: no protection is provided for this, particularly in case of bankruptcy.

As a precaution, put a cancellation clause in the contract. This will protect you if problems arise.

A contractor doesn’t want to sign a contract, or is offering a rebate if you pay in cash? Watch out: without a written contract, your cash payments are not protected, warranties may not be respected, and you could find yourself without recourse if there is a dispute, if the work is not satisfactory or if the contractor takes off without finishing the work.

Choosing the right contractorAnd finally…

Remember that it is preferable to use the services of a contractor who has already handled work similar to yours. This person will then have a better idea of which materials and techniques to use. You may also appreciate a contractor who is able to explain what is going on as things progress, to discuss problems, to offer suggestions and advice, and to collaborate with you in obtaining the best possible results. Don’t forget that, once the work is underway, you’ll be in close contact with the contractor and the workers. Establish a good working relationship from the start to avoid conflicts.

Also, before starting renovations, inform your residential insurer that work is going to be done.