New Brunswick

Know the red flags to save yourself a reno nightmare, says home builders group

The Greater Moncton Home Builders' Association is cautioning customers following recent reports of Moncton-area homeowners losing tens of thousands of dollars in renovation jobs gone bad involving the same contractors.

If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is, greater Moncton association says

The Greater Moncton Home Builders' Association has some helpful advice for homeowners looking to hire a contractor.

If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. 

That's the message from the Greater Moncton Home Builders' Association as it urges homeowners to protect themselves when commissioning contractors to tackle renovations.

Customers should learn to spot the red flags before starting a project, said executive officer Denise Charron in an interview Monday following recent reports of Moncton-area homeowners losing tens of thousands of dollars in renovation jobs gone bad involving the same contractors.

CBC News reported on Nov. 19 that Leanna Leger of Meadowbrook says she lost $48,000 to contractors Mark Charles, who also goes by Mark Garland, and Roger Leblanc.

On Monday, CBC News reported that military veteran Steven Dawe is in a similar situation after using his disability award to renovate his home to make room for a new baby. Dawe said he's out $22,000 now and is completing the renovations himself.

Two Moncton-area homeowners have said they've lost tens of thousands of dollars in renovation jobs gone bad involving the same contractors. (Tori Weldon/CBC)

Charles has denied any wrongdoing in the cases. Leblanc couldn't be reached.

Charron said there isn't much the association can do for people in those situations, but there are certain things to look for and ways to protect yourself when hiring a contractor.

Check credentials

Charron listed some of the criteria the association, a collection of construction professionals, wants to see in a contractor.

Whether a new builder or renovator, a contractor should be a registered company with the province, offer home warranty and carry liability insurance — minimum $2 million — in case something happens during construction.

The contractor should also be registered with Revenue Canada for payroll and HST records.

Denise Charron, executive officer with the Greater Moncton Home Builders' Association, says it's important to check a contractor's credentials before hiring them. (CBC)

"Hiring a professional renovator, you always have to ask what the credentials are," Charron said.

"It's like asking for a job interview. You need to know their qualifications, their competence, what are their background or referrals that they can give the client.

"If that person cannot furnish that to you as a client, that's a red flag."

Written agreement

Charron said you should have a detailed written agreement that outlines what the project entails, the timeframes and the method of payment.

"Usually a professional renovator, if you're using [them] for extensive renovations, he will also be responsible of hiring subcontractors, also managing your building permit, your inspection, and also [the] purchasing of materials and so forth," she said.

The association has a code of ethics for its members as well as an arbitration committee if a complaint is levelled against a member.

"So, if there is something going on with a client and one of our members — could be a home builder or renovator — at least we can get involved to that point," she said.

Moncton couple say Mark Charles and Roger Leblanc didn't do the work they were paid for. 1:41
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Charron said the association receives complaints about independent, non-member contractors on a weekly basis.

Most of the time, when people pay cash and the work is unfinished, the customer has little recourse except taking the contractor to court, she said.

"Unfortunately sometimes you have to go back and hire a professional to complete the job, which is more money," she said.

Inform yourself

The Greater Moncton Home Builders' Association website has resources for customers to use when hiring a contractor, what questions to ask and how to draft a written agreement.

Ask for referrals and seek out multiple bids as well, she said.

"Also [ask for] referrals as to what they've done not only the past year, but in the past two or three years in order to see how the work stands out and if it's still intact," she said.

With files from Tori Weldon

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