There are many things to think about when hiring a business to complete an urgent home repair. It may not feel like there is enough time to do the proper research, but even under a time-crunch, it is still important to choose a reliable business.
In Ontario, consumers are protected under the Consumer Protection Act when hiring a business, whether you’re rushing to hire a contractor after an unexpected flood, or considering a door-to-door deal.
Follow these steps before you hire for home repairs:
Do your research
Start by asking friends and family for recommendations of businesses that specialize in the repair type you need. Consider dealing with local businesses to make it easier to check references, enforce a warranty or have follow-up work done.
Ask to see the contractor’s credentials before hiring. Not having the right paperwork, such as contracts, identification, licences or permits is a warning sign that a business may not be reputable.
Check the Consumer Beware List to see if there are any recent charges, convictions, orders, actions or unanswered complaints against the businesses you are considering. Online resources can also be a great tool to search business reviews.
Get multiple quotes
Get at least three estimates and compare them. It might be a red-flag if one deal is significantly lower.
Take your time
Give yourself some time to consider an offer. If you have home insurance, be sure to speak to your claims adjuster before agreeing to any work in your home. Once you hire a business, don’t pay the full amount up-front. Keep your deposit to 10 per cent, and pay the full amount in installments or when work is complete.
Get a written contract
It’s important to have a written contract to protect yourself from fraud. Avoid cash deals – without an agreement in writing, you risk the business cashing in your deposit and never finishing – or even starting – the job they were hired to do. It is difficult for you to prove there was an agreement if you do not have it in writing.
The Consumer Protection Act gives you special rights when you buy something for your home that costs more than $50.
When you enter into a contract at home, you have the right to cancel the contract, without any reason and without penalty, within a 10-day cooling-off period (20 days for water heaters) that runs from when you receive a written copy of the contract. (Reasonable compensation may be owing to the business in specific circumstances).