Home renovation or reconstruction is one of the most common subjects for litigation in the Small Claims Court. With lengthy and complicated processes, there is lots of room for disagreement. Most frequently, there are disputes about:
- Quality of workmanship
- Completeness of work
- Time to finish
Consumer Protection Act, 2002(CPA)
There are strict rules that contractors must follow when dealing with home repairs and renovations, and a contractor takes substantial risks if it does not comply with the detailed Consumer Protection Act, 2002(CPA) requirements.
With few exceptions, any agreement (whether written or verbal) where an individual is paying for goods or services for personal, family or household purposes must comply with the CPA.
For future performance or direct agreements, all consumer agreements must be in writing, and meet each of the following requirements:
• The home owner must know exactly who he or she is dealing with,.
• A “fair and accurate description” of the goods and services must be set out in the contract
• The contract must set out an “itemized list of the prices at which the goods and services are to be supplied
• If the price changes during the course of work, it will typically need to be the subject of an amending agreement.
• The start and end dates of the project must be specified. As with price, if the start and end dates change, an amending agreement will typically be needed.
• As a direct agreement, every contract must contain a detailed disclaimer regarding a home owner’s rights under the CPA. The exact wording of the required disclaimer is set out in the CPA, and must be displayed prominently in a contract.
When you are looking to hire a contractor make sure to:
- make a list of exactly what you want done. Remember that changing plans in the middle of a project will cost extra money
- set a clear budget
- ask for recommendations from friends and neighbours
- check to see if their employees are covered by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB)
- ask if the tradespeople hired have their certification from the Ontario College of Trades
consider dealing with a local company. This may make it easier to check references, enforce a warranty or have follow-up work done
- get written estimates from at least 3 contractors
- never accept an estimate over the phone or without the contractor inspecting the area
- remember that good contractors ask a lot of questions so they can understand and plan out the project. For example, in driveway paving, they should ask if any heavy vehicles will be parked on the driveway
- not go for a deal that sounds too good to be true
- If it’s a major project, you might need an architect or engineer to draw up plans and give direction. You will also likely have to get a building permit.
- Ask your city or town hall how much building permits cost and how to get them.
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