The BBB advises consumers to be diligent when choosing or hiring a contractor and provides the following tips:
- Contact the Better Business Bureau (www.ottawa.bbb.org) to see if the contractor or builder has any complaints against them.
- Obtain at least three bids and compare them. Make sure the contractor's bid specifies the materials to be used, including quantity, brand, size, color, etc. Keep in mind that the lowest bid is not always the best.
- Make sure the contractor's paperwork is in order. Ask to see the contractor's license and certificates of insurance. Contact the licensing board to verify. Contractors are required to obtain licenses from province and/or city.
- Ask for references and check them out.
- Find out who will be doing the actual work - the contractor's employees or subcontractors. If the firm uses sub-contractors for some of their work you will need to research both the reputation of the sub-contractor, as well as the contractor. You also want to determine who will be responsible for problems down the road. Issues such as these should be resolved before construction begins.
- Do not be pressured into signing a contract right away. Take your time and review the contract carefully. If you do not understand the contract, do not sign it!
- Make sure all warranties for labor and materials are in writing.
- When paying for the work, never pay in cash. Use your credit card, cheque or money order. And, never pay the full amount up front.