Things to know before proceeding with your project.

Get Written Estimates

Get written estimates from more than one business. Provide each business with a detailed description of the work you want completed and the materials you want the contractor to use.

  • A written estimate should include:
  • A complete description of the work that will be done.
  • The type of materials that will be used.
  • The project estimated start and completion dates.
  • The required method of payment.

Warning Flags

Avoid contractors who:

  • Knock on your door to tell you they just happen to be doing some work in the area and can give you a special price (most problems relating to home renovations involve contractors who solicit contracts door to door)
  • Promise a discount if you allow them to use your home to advertise their work (the contractor has probably made the same offer to everyone)
  • Quote a price without seeing the job and demand a large down payment to buy materials (most reputable contractors maintain charge accounts with their suppliers)
  • Refuse to give you a written contract outlining what they will do or who won’t allow you to get other estimates.
    Will not give you an estimated start and completion date

Right Contractor:

Check if the contractor is a member of the Calgary Home Builder Association, member of the BBB and Reno Mark. Being a member of these organizations is a great indication that they are qualified for the job. Check for references.

Check the qualifications of the tradespeople who will do the work. Specific trades such as electricians, plumbers and gas fitters must be certified to work in Alberta.

Make sure the contractor and tradespeople have Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) coverage. Ask for the WCB number. If the tradespeople get injured and they are covered by WCB, they may be eligible for compensation. WCB may cover lost income, health care and other costs from a work-related injury or illness.

Also, ask to see an insurance certificate showing public liability and property damage coverage for all workers on the job.

Signing the Contract

Verbal contracts are hard to prove. Always insist on a written contract.

Any blank spaces on a printed form should be filled in with NA (not applicable) or NIL (nothing). Strike out anything you don’t agree with and make sure you and the contractor initial the change. To ensure you are protected, consider having the contract reviewed by your lawyer. Once you sign a contract, it’s legally binding. Be certain you and the contractor have agreed on the details of the work to be done.

Paying for the work:

The formal payment schedule should be clearly outlined in the contract. Most contractors will ask for a deposit or down payment. Find out if this is refundable and if so, under what conditions.

Working with Prepaid Contractors:

Special regulations under the Fair Trading Act apply to contractors in Alberta who:

  • Accept money before work is complete
  • Look for work, discuss or finalize a contract away from their normal place of business (e.g. in your home)

These contractors are considered prepaid contractors. A prepaid contractor must be licensed by Service Alberta and post security. If the business is negligent in performing its services or providing the goods, an affected consumer can submit a claim against the security.

Check with Service Alberta to find out if a contractor is licensed as a prepaid contractor.

Service Alberta contact number: 1-877-427-4088.