Five tips for choosing a contractor

Whether it's the need for a change, an upgrade, or an emergency home repair, most homeowners will at some point need to hire a contractor. Renovations and repairs vary widely in both the scope and the resources needed to get the job done right.


“Even a homeowner experienced in repairs will need to hire a contractor eventually due to the size or level of difficulty with a project,” says Yvonne Ratigan, an executive with Royal LePage Canada.


Ratigan offers these guidelines to finding and choosing a contractor:


1. Ask for referrals and consult local resources. Start by asking friends and family for referrals. Other sources include your local homebuilder and renovator associations and local building supply stores.


2. Ask questions. What kind of work do you specialize in? Do you offer a warranty? How do you handle clean up? How do you schedule the work? Do you provide a contract? The answers to questions like these will help you to narrow down your choices.


3. Consider more than just price. In addition to price, consider the level of trust and the quality of work you see from the contractors you have short-listed. Make your decision on a variety of pre-determined factors, asking the same question to all bidders. Be sure to get references and ask to see the work the contractor has done for past customers.


4. Proper insurance. Both the homeowner and the contractor need to have the right insurance. If the contractor's crew is injured on the job or damages your property or a neighbour's property, your homeowner's insurance policy might not cover you and you could be liable.


5. Get it in writing. The final agreement between you and your contractor should always be in writing. Don't be tempted to accept cash only jobs. A cash deal may leave you with no legal recourse if something goes wrong.


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