Quick Checklist to Evaluate a Home Renovation Contractor
Is the contractor properly insured? This is perhaps the most important question, as an uninsured contractor is a recipe for disaster. If anything goes wrong at all, you'd have no recourse against an uninsured company. (Ask for a clearance letter for proof of coverage.)
How much insurance does the contractor carry? This is the most important part of the contractors insurance policy because it sets the upper limit to how much the insurer will pay.
Do all the subcontractors that will be hired to work on the project carry insurance? Most insurance companies require that a general contractor hire other trades with insurance or else the contractor will be liable directly, and his insurance won't cover the liability of the subcontractors.
Can the contractor provide a Worker's Compensation Board Clearance letter? A contractor may represent themselves as being registered with WCB, but unless they can produce a clearance letter confirming this, you may be liable for WCB claims made against the contractor.
Do the sub trades that will be working on the project also carry WCB? The general contractor's WCB does not cover sub trades - it only covers the general contractor and his employees. The general contractor should check that all his sub trades have valid WCB coverage.
Does the contractor's WCB actually cover my entire project? If you, as the client, supply materials and are directly hiring labour to install those materials, you are fully responsible to ensure the trade or contractor has valid WCB coverage. If they don't and there is an incident on your project, WCB will hold you, the home owner, fully responsible.
Are the trades being hired qualified and ticketed? Skilled labour is one of the most valuable components of any renovation. A ticketed or "journeyman" trades person holds a certificate from the industry training authority, and has the skill to ensure the safety and quality of your project. Although it may be tempting to try to save money by hiring a handyman or a non-certified trade, the cost of hiring an amateur for your renovation often ends up far exceeding the cost of having it done right the first time.
Does the contractor provide a Fixed Quote? Accurately quoting a renovation project is one of the most difficult and risky undertaking for a contractor. Often contractors will avoid fixed price quotations to minimize their risk. However, in such situations the risk is passed on to the home owner! Ask your contractor for a fixed price quote. A Fixed-Price Contract (also called a Lump Sum Contract) sets out the total price for the work, including all labour, materials, sub trades, equipment rentals and other expenses. Taxes are either included in this price or additional to it - this must be clearly stated. Fixed-Price Contracts are most well-suited to a small repair or renovation projects that are straightforward and easy to plan. Any changes or adjustments to a fixed-price contract require a written Change Order signed by both parties.
Are you a member of the Better Business Bureau? BBB Accredited businesses undergo a detailed review process and must commit to abide by a set of ethical standards for marketplace conduct.
Can we contact your past and present clients for references? Speaking directly with other homeowners that have direct experience with the contractor can go a long way in helping to decide if the contractor is right for you!