Hiring a contractor: 5 things you need to know

Fixing your home can be costly but even more so if you hire the wrong contractor. The Better Business Bureau has some tips about what to look out for when hiring a contractor.

The Better Business Bureau shares tips on how to find the right contractor

Homeowners are advised to get everything in writing when embarking on a home renovation. (Stew Miln/Associated Press/Canadian Press)

Fixing your home can be costly, especially if you hire the wrong contractor. The Better Business Bureau shares some tips on what to watch for when hiring a contractor. 

"Unfortunately there are shifty people out there with morals that are few and far between," said Evan Kelly, senior communications advisor for BBB serving Mainland BC.

1. Do your homework

When choosing a contractor read company reviews and complaints online, check to see if they are properly licensed and ask for references.

"You're perfectly within your right to ask for references and get those person's contact numbers," said Kelly.

He says asking for references is a good way to find out if the company's last few jobs were completed in time and within budget.

2. Get multiple estimates 

Before accepting an estimate, get at least several bids or quotes in writing. Kelly recommends being armed with at least three estimates.

3. Get everything in writing

You've probably heard this before, but do not sign a contract until you have read through it entirely.

"Makes sure to have every tiny detail on the contract, what is being done, what material is being used, timelines and payment timeline as well," he said. 

This includes any verbal agreements. 

4. Instigate the transaction

Kelly suggests finding a contractor, instead of waiting for someone to come to you. 

"The elderly are sometimes targeted this way," he said, "where people will approach them and say your roof is in rough shape and needs some work. If that is true, you want a few different opinions on that."

He also suggests only putting down 10 to 15 per cent deposit.

5. Don't fall for every line

Kelly says be wary of contractors who offer discounts or cut rates, because they have extra material left over from a previous job or get a deal as a factory representative. 

He also warns consumers to be wary of contractors who compel them to borrow money from your lender. 

With files from the CBC's The Early Edition and Sara Rabey.

To hear the full story listen to the audio labelled: Hiring a contractor: 5 things you need to know.


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