Remember having a detailed contract (even just an itemized bill for smaller jobs) with a payment schedule that reflects milestones (work actually completed), doing a background check, and checking references can help protect you during a renovation but what if you do everything right and still get left high and dry by your contractor with an incomplete or unsatisfactory job?
Here’s 9 Tips To Help You Navigate Your Options:
9. The number one way to deal with a bad situation is to discuss the issues with your contractor. Having an open and honest discussion based on mutual respect goes a long way and depending on the scope of the project you should be having weekly updates either in person or via email (I always encourage to have a paper trail). Most importantly, understand the reasons for the delays, etc. and find an amicable solution.
8. Make sure you have documented all your attempts to reach your contractor with phone calls, texts, and emails.
7. If the job is incomplete and a solution cannot be found, you could stop paying the contractor, fire your contractor and/or hire another contractor to complete the job (remember to keep a paper trail of work completed and costs).
6. File a complaint with a local government agency, like the Consumer Beware List. This list is maintained by the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services of Ontario for businesses that have not responded to 2 notifications about a consumer complaint or have been charged or convicted with the Consumer Protection Act. Some trades, like electricians, have governing authorities, like the ESA where consumers can file a complaint or check for proper licenses. Contact the ESA (Electrical Safety Authority).
Another association that ensures it’s members follow the Contractor’s Code of Ethics is OGCA (Ontario General Contractors Association) – they have a membership directory and also offer an early dispute resolution program.
5. Leave a review on consumer protection, like Consumer Protection Ontario – learn about your consumer rights and the protections available to you.
4. Do a name and company search on your contractor with the BBB (Better Business Bureau, Chamber of Commerce and city for information on the contractor). The Better Business Bureau can offer arbitration services for disputes between consumers and businesses for low or no fees.
3. Tap their bond – if you’ve hired a licensed contractor they will be bonded and insured. Being bonded and insured means the contractor or his company has secured money that is available to the consumer in the event they file a claim against the company. So, as a homeowner, you know the contractor is properly insured against legal actions.
2. Look into taking the contractor to small claims court in Ontario. Small claims court is limited in what it can provide and only awards monetary damages up to $25,000.
1. The last resort would be to take legal action.