Tips from Consumer Protection Ontario to Help Protect You and Your Home
There are many things to think about when hiring a contractor for a home renovation. Taking the time to research and choose a reliable business or contractor goes a long way towards protecting you and your home.
In Ontario, consumers are protected under the Consumer Protection Act, 2002 whether you’re hiring a contractor for a planned renovation or an unexpected repair.
Follow these steps before you hire a business or contractor for home repairs or renovations:
Do your research
Start out by asking friends and family for recommendations of businesses that specialize in the type of renovation or repair you need. Personal referrals can give you peace of mind because they come from sources that you trust.
Always ask to see the business’s contract and credentials before hiring. Not having the right paperwork, such as contracts, identification, or trade or municipal licences is a warning sign that a business may not be reputable.
Check the Consumer Beware List to see if there are any recent charges, convictions, orders, actions or unanswered complaints against the businesses you are considering to do the work. Online resources can also be a great tool to search business reviews.
Get multiple quotes
Always try to get estimates from at least three businesses and compare them. It might be a red-flag if one deal is significantly lower than the others. Reputable companies meet all legal requirements, like charging and paying applicable taxes.
Take your time
Give yourself enough time to consider an offer. Once you hire a business, never pay the full amount for the work up-front. It is recommended that you keep your deposit to 10 per cent of the total cost, and pay the balance owing in installments or when work is complete. Also, you are required by law to hold back 10 per cent of the contract price until 45 days has passed since the renovation is substantially complete.
Get a written contract
It’s important to have a written contract that sets out exactly what the business is required to do. A written contract helps to ensure that you get what you paid for and protects you from fraud. If you pay cash, make sure that you get a detailed, signed receipt from the contractor. This is one way to protect you from risks and potential liabilities when participating in cash deals. If you sign a contract in your home for renovations worth $50 or more, the Consumer Protection Act, 2002 gives you a number of protections, including a 10-day cooling off period in which you can cancel the contract.
- In 2015, Ontario’s renovation market was estimated to be worth about $25 billion.
- Know your rights when signing or cancelling a contract
- Know your rights when hiring a contractor (video)
- Tips from the Canadian Home Builders’ Association before renovating a home
“When making upgrades or repairs to your home, a cash deal may seem tempting because contractors often offer lower estimates if you pay in cash. However, a written contract helps ensure that you are getting what you paid for and puts consumers in the best position to benefit from the protections provided under the Consumer Protection Act, 2002.”
“When you ask for a receipt or a contract you are protecting yourself and your investment, while supporting vital government services. Reputable companies are those who meet legal requirements, support workplace health and safety laws, and adhere to tax compliance, and they deserve our support. It ensures fair competition, protects workers, strengthens consumer rights, and promotes economic growth.”