So your retirement plan is in place, and the first step is to downsize your home.
For many of us, preparing a home for sale can include spending some time and money on upgrades or repairs.
Whether you’re interested in installing new kitchen cabinets or making necessary repairs to your roof, if you’re hiring a professional for the job you’ll need a written contract.
In Ontario, any agreement with a contractor worth more than $50 must be in writing. This means that you should have a contract even for small home renovations or repairs. And, if the contract is signed in your home, you are also entitled to a 10-calendar-day cooling-off period. Within these 10 days, you may cancel your contract without having to provide a reason or pay a cancellation fee.
Make sure your contract includes:
· The contractor’s name, address and contact information.
· A thorough description of the project, including the materials to be used.
· A copy of the written estimate.
· A clear description of any warranties.
· The total cost and payment schedule, including the deposit amount. We recommend keeping down payments at no more than 10 per cent of the total cost of the contract.
· A work schedule, including start and completion dates.
Avoid falling into the temptation of “paper-free” deals that sound too good to be true. Remember that no receipt means that you have no proof of purchase.
Frequently asked questions
How can I protect myself from mortgage fraud? To avoid unknowingly taking part in a mortgage fraud, be suspicious if you are:
asked to say that you make more money than you really do
asked to lie about whether you will live in a property or rent it out
asked to sign documents that have blanks, or asked not to fill out certain sections of a form or document
offered a fee for the use of your name and credit information
discouraged from visiting the property, or having it appraised or inspected
What do I need to know before hiring an electrical contractor? Hiring an electrical contractor
Before you hire an electrical contractor, make sure to:
note their Electrical Safety Authority (ESA)/Electrical Contractor Registration Agency (ECRA) licence number
check that their work vehicle displays the ESA/ECRA licence number
get a written cost estimate of the work that includes the ESA/ECRA licence number and ESA permit fees
confirm that they will get a certificate of inspection, if necessary, when the work is complete
Electrical Safety Authority is responsible for administering the Ontario Electrical Safety Code, licensing electrical contractors and master electricians, training inspectors, and conducting safety inspections of electrical installations and electrical incident investigations.
This means that in Ontario:
a person can’t operate an electrical contracting business without an electrical contractor licence issued by ESA
a person can’t take on the responsibility of a master electrician without a master electrician licence issued by ESA
If you suspect that an electrical contractor or master electrician is operating without an ESA licence, contact the Electrical Safety Authority. This helps prevent unsafe practices that can result in injury to people and damage to property.
What are some common home renovation scams?
The Door-to-Door Game
In this scam, a door-to-door salesperson offers you a “good deal” because “we just happen to be in the neighbourhood with all our material and equipment.” The contract usually has to be signed right away to get the special price.
Or, a salesperson may offer to “inspect” your furnace, chimney or roof, free of charge. Afterwards, you are told that immediate and expensive repair work must be done. The individual then offers to do the work and has a contract ready for you to sign.
The Disappearing Contractor
Never let a contractor talk you into making a large down payment “to pay for materials.” The contractor may cash in the deposit and never finish – or even begin – the job they were hired to do.
Keep down-payments to a minimum (we recommend 10%) and never pay the full amount of the contract before the work is all done. Remember, legitimate home renovation companies have enough credit to buy the materials they need.
The Paper-Free Deal
Not having the right paperwork – estimates, contracts, professional licences, building permits – is a warning sign that a contractor is not reputable.
A contract is your best protection as a consumer.
It’s also a good idea to avoid cash deals. Although they can be appealing, if anything goes wrong with your project, you won’t have proof of payment without a receipt.
Remember, reputable companies comply with the law. A professional licence shows that a contractor is qualified to do the work you’re hiring him or her to do – like plumbing or electrical. Building permits allow your municipality to make sure that any work you have planned meets the Building Code standards and by-laws.