Hiring a Calgary Contractor
Many home owners will want to get some small, major renovation or repair jobs done on their home at some point. Some are skilled enough to do the job on their own while others either don’t have the necessary skills or simply don’t have the time. This latter group will likely hire a contractor to perform the work. Everyone has probably heard horror stories about someone who had encountered problems with a contractor and for a variety of reasons.
Using a contractor in Calgary is not all that different from any other business arrangement. If you want to avoid problems then you have to do it right. Here are a few tips to help you have a productive and successful arrangement with a contractor.
Finding and Selecting a Contractor
The contractor you want to select is someone who has the proper skills and training to do the job. Just because they call themselves contractors doesn’t necessarily mean they have the right certifications and skill level to perform the work. Ask about their qualifications and if they are licensed as some trades require they be licensed by the province such as electricians.
Ask friends, family and neighbours about contractors they have used. Check the local home building associations as most reputable contractors will belong to these professional associations. Call and chat with a few contractors over the phone and ask questions.
Questions to Ask a Contractor
Some of the key questions you should ask include:
- How long have you been in business?
- Have you done similar projects like this one before?
- Will you be using sub-contractors?
- Do you carry liability insurance and Workers Compensation coverage? (It’s a good idea to verify this coverage)
- Will there be a written contact?
- What will the work schedule be and the completion date?
- Will they be obtaining all the required permits?
- Do they offer a warranty for their work and what will it cover?
- Do they have any references?
A contractor should be willing and happy to share information and communicate about costs, materials and a budget with you. If they appear evasive or not very forthcoming, you should be very cautious and maybe look elsewhere. Good communications with the contractor is vital before, during and at the completion of the job.
Get Estimates and Proposals
As a general rule, most people get at least 3 estimates for a job. It is also vital you have a clear idea or vision about what you want such as the style or types of materials you want. If you repeatedly change your mind, be prepared to absorb the extra expense because that’s on you, not the contractor.
Types of Contracts
There are 2 basic contracts you will encounter so it is vital you know the difference. They include:
- Fixed Price Quote – This includes single price for all the materials, labour, equipment, fees and profit margin. A variance might be allowed if the type of materials to be used is undecided.
- Cost Plus Contract – These leave costs open-ended. There are times when some projects may encounter unexpected problems that require unforeseen costs which the contractor should not have to absorb. These are the types of projects where you should also factor in a contingency budget to ensure you can afford costs for unforeseen problems.
Contracts and Completion Certificates
Be leery of cash deals only as you are only asking for problems as they may be unlicensed or uninsured. Get it in writing and preferably in contractual form.
If the contractor asks you to sign a completion certificate, do not sign it until you have thoroughly inspected the work and are satisfied.
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