This fall, Janice Braden had no idea what to do after her home renovation job went badly off the rails. 

Braden had hired a local contractor, to whom she paid $20,000 in insurance claim money, but then left her house in shambles. 

Janice Brayden Saskatoon home renovation contractor

Janice Brayden stands in what's left of the attic of her Saskatoon home. (CBC)

The single mom said she and a few friends arranged some work bees to do what they could, but she was mostly feeling lost. 

Then she got a surprise knock at the door and a woman she didn’t know offered her help.

“I was ready to say I’m sorry I can’t afford anything,” Braden recalled. “And she says, ‘No really, I’m here to help.’”

It was Sara Wheelwright at the door, the owner of Trusted Saskatoon. It’s an organization that partners with various businesses, which it has first vetted to ensure they are qualified and ethical. 

She learned of Braden’s situation at her child’s hockey game. Wheelwright said she was a single mom at the time too, so she could empathize.

“When I heard the story I knew I could do something to help,” Wheelwright said. 

Sara Wheelwright Trusted Saskatoon

Sara Wheelwright owns Trusted Saskatoon, an organization that partners with businesses to ensure they are qualified and ethical. (CBC)

She approached businesses connected with her company, told them the story, and asked for donations of time and materials. 

“Even I didn't expect to have the amazing response that we’ve had. We’ve actually been able to put (Braden) back so she’s not in a position of loss apart from the time that she’s lost and the stress.”

Braden said she went from skepticism to disbelief, “and the tears came later.” 

Wheelwright said so far 26 companies have offered assistance. A Regina company offered granite countertops, contractors and painters have offered labour and even a salon has offered up a pampering package.

The work is already underway and renovation specialist Dave Anderchek is coordinating it. 

He said for years he’s seen customers treated badly by unethical contractors and he decided it’s time to come forward. 

He said he also wants to help by pointing out substandard work. 

“What you’re seeing here is not uncommon,” Anderchek said, as he pointed out problems with the workmanship in Braden’s home. “So it’s time that I spoke up and said something.”

Top 6 tips for hiring a contractor: government

  1. Get quotes from two or three different contractors.
  2. Check their references. Get feedback from previous clients and ask to see pictures of the contractor’s past projects.
  3. The Better Business Bureau (1-888-352-7601) can tell you if any complaints have been filed against the contractor.
  4. Make sure the contractor has property damage and liability insurance.
  5. Sign a written contract that includes: Start and end dates, a detailed list of materials and supplies, blueprints or drawings, a payment schedule and a safety inspection at project completion.
  6. If a contractor contacts you to solicit a sale, they must have a direct seller’s licence and be bonded. Check if your contractor is licensed and bonded at FCAA411. If the contractor works for a company, search its registration status.