First and foremost, a professional contractor has proven experience in the field. This means they know what they are doing, what order to do things in, and they have a backup network of people and professionals to help along the way or deal with unexpected problems.
In Albert, general contractors need a business licence in each city they do business in, and a prepaid contractors licence if they are asking for a deposit (when they sign a contract anywhere but their office.) A city business licence let’s you know that the contractor does business in Edmonton, St. Albert, Morinville, etc. So what, right? Well, knowing where their place of business is might be important if you have any problems after the work is completed. Not that we had any major flooding in Edmonton, but could you imagine living in Calgary, having someone come in and “repair” water damage to your home, do a substandard job, and then finding out they were only here for the summer? A city business licence helps prevent these situations.
A prepaid contractors licence allows a contractor to take a down payment on a project, protecting the homeowner in case they decide to walk off with your funds. If fraud is committed, the homeowner can contact consumer corporate affairs and start the process to track down their money. Without the prepaid contractors licence, you’re handing money over to an unknown, making a down payment is risky.
To find out if the contractor has a city business licence or a prepaid contractors licence, ask them for their licence number, the name the company goes by and the company address. Then call 311 (or go to www.edmonton.ca) and provide the company name, address and licence number. This will get you information on the status of the licences of the company. If the contractor isn’t licenced, think twice about giving them any money, or hiring them at all.
Did you know that an agreement between a homeowner and a contractor for the purpose of avoiding taxes makes a contract, verbal or written, illegal? Yes, if the authorities catch up with a contractor who doesn’t have a GST number, you can be on the hook as well. In addition, any contract that you agree to, may not be enforceable. So, if a contractor is doing your project “under the table” you may not have any legal recourse if they don’t see the work through.
Phone the Canada Revenue Agency Business Enquiries Line at 1 800 959 5525 (or visit http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/ ) and provide them with the company’s GST number and name (again, you have to ask the contractor for those) to find out if they are legitimate.
A contractor that doesn’t have workers’ compensation insurance is someone you don’t want working on your property. If anyone working for them injures themselves on your property, you can be found responsible and possibly sued for lost wages, etc. Without workers’ compensation the homeowner acts as the general contractor. Worker’s Compensation not only protects the workers, but it also protects you. Call 780 498 3999 and provide the company’s name for information on their insurance status. Or ask the contractor for a “Clearance Letter” before they commence work on your property.
Without worker’s compensation, legally, you are considered the general contractor and could be held responsible if any injuries occur.
Although this doesn’t have to do specifically with licences, also be aware that if a renovator doesn’t install certain products correctly as the manufacturer may not honour any warranties. Some manufacturers require that photos be taken of the install and sent to them before a warranty can be issued. Other manufacturers require the completion of a training course, usually which costs hundreds of dollars to complete. If a contractor hasn’t bothered to meet any of the warranty requirements, that seemingly solid warranty package from the manufacturer might just be null and void.
Ensuring that your contractor follows all installation procedures for a product means that your warranty will be valid. Otherwise, your warranty could be null and void.
Do yourself a favour when you’re ready for your next renovation project. Hire a licenced contractor with the required insurance and documentation. It may seem like you pay a little more up front, but you’ll have some peace of mind and more likely a problem free renovation.
Send us an email and we will call you to setup an in-home appointment to discuss your renovation needs!