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How to find the right building contractor

April 19 2017 by Multi-Prêts Hypothèques
What you'll learn
  • Research and call for submissions

  • Are they in good standing?

  • Questions you need to ask

When you don’t have much experience, finding a good building contractor to work on your home is no easy task.

In order to hedge against unpleasant surprises, here are a few important things to consider before making your choice.

Ask around and do your research

It’s always a good idea to start off by asking friends and family for referrals. This does not, however, guarantee quality or ensure that the contractor is in good standing. You’ll still have to dig a little deeper.

Many organizations can easily be found online— CAA Québec, APCHQ, to name only those two — offer interesting tools to help find a good contractor. Reviews on Google, Yelp or other similar platforms are key.

While an absence of bad reviews isn’t a quality guarantee, an abundance is a sure-fire sign you should keep looking.

Make sure they are in good standing

All building contractors in Quebec are required to possess a licence from the Régie du bâtiment du Québec (RBQ) for rentals and certain types of residential projects. Make sure their licence is still valid by visiting the RBQ website. This licence could also allow you to claim compensation in the case of a construction defect, for example. For home renovations that don’t concern the structure, electricity or plumbing, a licence is not required if you are the « owner occupant ».

The Office de la protection du consommateur offers an information tool on retailers. You can find out if they have been the object of any legal proceedings from consumers and if the Office has had to intervene against them.

If they have any work site labourers, make sure their CCQ and CSST dues are paid up.

An additional verification on the enterprise registrar is recommended.

If you want to build your own home with the help of a contractor, read our article for more tips and tricks.

Ask for more than one bid

One all too common mistake is relying on a single referral. We recommend getting a minimum of 3 bids for your project, regardless of how great the contractor’s reputation.

Not only will this allow you to compare prices, it will also provide insight into how the bidders plan on performing the work. Even if you’re not an expert, you’re sure to notice some differences, which will allow you to ask more in-depth questions of each. Beware : lower prices can sometimes mean lower quality.

Remember : once you do settle on a contractor, make sure every aspect of the project is thoroughly detailed in a formal agreement, or you could face potentially unpleasant consequences down the line.

You should also be wary of contractors who require a considerable deposit. Payments should be spread out as the work progresses.

Ask plenty of questions

What is their level of experience, and what type of work do they usually handle? Some contractors can be experts in one specific field, and have very little knowledge in another. As previously mentioned, contact independent organizations such as CAA Habitation to find out more about the contractor.

Are the people working on the job site their own employees, or are they subcontractors? It is completely normal for a contractor to use subcontractors, but make sure he remains closely involved in the execution of the work. Request a written commitment that the contractor remains responsible for the work and the subcontractors.

Can you see some of their past projects on their website? If so, can they put you in touch with former customers?

Be sure to read this article if you’re considering renovating to help sell your property.

Key takeaways
  • Many organizations you can easily find on the Web — CAA Québec, APCHQ, to name only those two, offer interesting tools to help find a good contractor.

  • All building contractors in Quebec are required to possess a licence from the Régie du bâtiment du Québec (RBQ).

  • We recommend getting a minimum of 3 bids for your project.

  • Some contractors can be experts in one specific field, and have very little knowledge in another.

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