Spring forward with home improvement tips
During the warm weather, homeowners often make spring the time to do some home improvement projects. Whether you are looking to redo your kitchen and bath, or replace your home's roof or built a deck, it is essential that you find a contractor that you can trust.
Last year, the Better Business Bureau serving Mainland B.C. received 867 complaints against general contractors and home improvement related companies. This past spring, BBB has received reports of contractors in the Thompson-OKanagan and across the Lower Mainland who have intimidated homeowners and ended up charging too much and doing too little.
“Watch out for red flags from those just looking to make a quick buck,” says Lynda Pasacreta, BBB president and CEO. “Be especially wary of doing business with a contractor who solicits business door-to-door. This could mean that the contractor is just passing through the area trying to scam innocent consumers.”
BBB advises consumers to use the following checklist when choosing a home contractor:
Don’t give into sales pressure. If a contractor shows up to your door offering services ask to take their business card or flyer. Do not let a person pressure you into signing up. Let them know you will contact them after consulting with your spouse or partner.
Be picky and have lots of options. Seek at least three bids from prospective contractors based on the same specifications, materials and labour needed to complete the project. Homeowners should discuss bids in detail with each contractor and ask questions about variations in pricing. The lowest-priced contractor may not be the best.
Make sure they are insured. Consumers should ask whether the company is insured with WorkSafeBC against claims covering workers' compensation, property damage and personal liability in case of accidents. Consumers should obtain the name of the insurance carrier and call to verify coverage.
Get everything in writing. Read and understand the contract before signing. Get all verbal promises in writing. Include start and completion dates in the contract. Homeowners must hold back 10 per cent of the contract price until 55 days after the general contract is substantially completed, abandoned, or otherwise ended to ensure that all subcontracted companies are paid. This way, if there are liens from workers who did not get paid from the original contractor, the holdback may be used to help pay these liens.
Do your homework. As always, you can visit BBB's website: www.mbc.bbb.org to look up an organization or file a complaint. You can also ask the contractor for local references, and get a chance to see the actual work done by the contractor. If the contractor does quality work, they should have no problem providing references.