Finding a reliable contractor is crucial for any home improvement project. But what do you do if you get a bad one?
Nobody ever intends to hire a shoddy contractor, but it often doesn’t take much for a home renovation project to go awry. The potential woes are many: poor workmanship, countless delays and a bill that seems to keep growing. Or worse yet, a contractor who takes your money, doesn’t finish the job and then disappears.
Complaints filed against home improvement contractors rank among the top ten complaint categories year after year. In 2019, there were less complaints that made contractors no longer the top 10. This is due to better education to homeowners and contractors.
So what can a homeowner do to find a good contractor ? There are many hardworking, skilled tradesmen out there to help avoid a construction nightmare.
To start, familiarize yourself with the regulations in your area: Laws regarding home improvement aren’t uniform and can differ by City, province and municipality. Make sure you are working with a licensed professional on any home renovation job that costs more than $500. Because if you don’t hire a licensed contractor, there are very few remedies.
Little known fact, renovators are not required to be licenced, So find one that is. What does this mean. This means they are educated, they have to take courses and stay up to date on the changing building codes.
Do Your Homework
After getting recommendations from friends and neighbors who have used contractors in recent years, call or go online to BC Housing to see if those contractors are licensed.
Do some digging and find out if there have been any complaints filed against a recommended contractor. Remember not all complaints are bad as sometimes contractors get bad clients. So carefully study Reviews and ask the contractor about the complaints. There are lots of companies that will not verify reviews and a lot of fake reviews out there.
Once you know a contractor is licensed, you should do some online research, but don’t just read reviews. Check the Better Business Bureau to see if a complaint has been filed there. Search using legal research to check if there are, or have been, any lawsuits filed against the contractor. Potential red flags include a homeowner suing a business for breach of contract or a subcontractor seeking a large amount of overtime or back pay. But, some of these maybe the contractor trying to get paid by the client when clients don’t pay or subs mess up on work and the company goes after them for the client. Know the details before you judge. With Covid-19 these maybe up as Government ordered self distancing affected a lot of companies. So know the facts!
Why do such a deep background check? There is a skilled labor shortage in the country, making it harder to find high-quality tradesmen available for work. A recent survey found that many general contracting firms are having a hard time finding skilled tradesman to fill open positions. The good ones are busy, so many times they’re not looking for more work.
When you’ve narrowed down your choices, ask for bids and several references. Call the references and ask how they communicated with the contractor about their projects: Were there regular meetings or weekly progress reports? In addition, sit down with the contractor to gather information. Will the contractor have multiple renovation projects happening at the same time? What type of insurance do they have? Which subcontractors will work on your project? And finally, ask yourself if you can see yourself working with this contractor for weeks or even months. Working with a contractor is kinda like a marriage, you want a great relationship with them and not a messy divorce.
It is estimated that only about 10 percent of clients who have requested bids ask for references and actually call them.
Signing a Contract
Many homeowners use a one-third rule, dividing the total bill in three equal payments: before, during and after the job is done. This can work well on small projects, but some homeowners who feel they have been duped on larger renovations advise against it and urge a more detailed schedule and payment plan. Ridgewater we take a deposit and bill ever two weeks. This is safer and keeps your contractor working hard on your project.
Do not pay for anything your contractor hasn’t finished.
Get an Architect or Design Build Firm
For large projects like a kitchen or bathroom overhaul that requires a change in plumbing lines or electrical wiring, or a gut renovation or an addition on a house, it is best to hire a designer or an architect.
Trying to manage a large project that might cost hundreds of thousands of dollars is too much for a homeowner to handle. Architects provide design skills, and they can also explain building regulations and codes and help to manage your expectations.
Besides detailed information about the renovation, the contract should define how the architect, contractor and homeowner will communicate throughout the project.
Don’t be one of the people that now regrets hiring an unlicensed contractor to renovate a bathroom, kitchen or do an addition.
Filing a Complaint
What recourse do you have if you find yourself in a dispute with a contractor?
First he best thing is try to resolve things with your contractor face to face. If that does work you can look at mediation or arbitration. If that doesn’t get your contractors attention you could file a complaint with BBB or BC Housing, once the department receives and reviews a complaint, it will contact the business and begin mediation. The department can resolve your case by requiring the contractor to pay restitution or fix or finish the job.
There’s a lot of legitimate guys out there, so it’s unfortunate we still see enough unscrupulous contractors that give the industry a bad reputation. Ridgewater was called in to look at the start of a project where the contractor took a lot of money from the client. The project was started and already wrong. We went to court to testify and to hear the so called contractor tell us he doesn’t use rebar in his footings and walls. Than to ask why we needed to build the footing differently and to be 18″ down. This was a shock to hear. This is the type of contractor that gives all good and licenced contractors a bad name.
But, remember its not always the contractor at fault. We always hear about the big bad contractor, but you almost never hear about the client that takes advantage of the contractor. They have the contractor build their dream Kitchen, Bathroom or home, but then they refuse to pay. This happens more often than people realize. We have covered that before in another blog.
Who is Ridgewater Homes
Ridgewater Homes is the company that you can trust for your custom build, home renovation, heritage restoration or commercial. Our focus is complete customer satisfaction. At Ridgewater Homes, we are passionate about the services we provide to our customers. Ridgewater Homes cares just as much about what goes into our customer’s homes, as what we would put into our own. Our company has been operating for over 10 years with the goal of delivering the highest quality work and customer service.
Craving more expert building advice? Checkout our YouTube Channel! Where Daryl walks through various stages of on site construction, reviews the latest products, contests, and talks with industry experts on new and current building codes and methods of construction.
Let’s Build Something Great!