Can I pay my deposit in cash?
Cash is the worst deposit for any construction project. You need to have that paper trail of a cheque. Also, the practice of giving or taking a deposit before work starts is foolish. Most contractors who take any money up front need to be specially licensed by the province of Alberta.
What we at Paul Ransom Carpentry & Millwork Ltd. do is take draws or partial payments after work has started and materials are on site. We would also have a payment schedule done in the contract which would state draw dates after certain work completions and/or city inspections.
Do I need a written contract?
Contracts are a must. Basically, the contractor needs to tell you in writing what you are going to get for the dollar amount and when you are going to get it. As the client, you have responsibilities as well. You will need to agree to a payment schedule and you will have to stay within the construction plan because change orders and add on’s are additional to the contract value.
Choosing a Contractor
This is an overview of the frequently asked questions you may have, or should be asking our company or any other company that may be invited to bid or perform any work for you, the client.
1. Should I ask for references?
References are a must. All you need is a phone reference for small jobs. Large scale projects would require a site visit to a job in progress and/ or a walk through or at least a drive by a finished property
2. Do I need to ask for proof that the contractor I hire has workers compensation?
You should always ask for proof of workers compensation – this can be obtained from the WCB website or over the phone providing you have the company name and/ or the policy number *Without proper WCB, you as the homeowner can be liable for any claim by a worker injured on your property. This is potentially disastrous financially.
3. Do I need to see proof of liability insurance?
Don’t rely on what the contractor tells you he has, but instead get the name and number of the insurance broker and call them directly.
4. Do I need to see proof of a City License?
The city of Calgary will not issue any building permits to contractors without a current license. The contractor can submit to you a photo copy of the license which will have a business ID number, a business license number, along with a start and expiry date. Again, all it takes is one phone call to the city of Calgary for confirmation of the license.
* Without the required permits, you may be required to cease and desist any and all work until the proper permits and inspections are in place. Case in point. Joe homeowner hires a contractor for a renovation where there are no permits, no contracts, no paper trail. Unfortunately, some faulty electrical wiring causes a fire and the house burns down. If your home insurance provider can prove that the renovation was done below board without any city or recognized inspections, you may not qualify for your homeowners insurance – all because you thought you could save a few dollars.
5. What other things should I consider?
For major projects, it isn’t out of line for you, the client, to phone and talk to someone in the accounting department of a recognized supplier on your project, to make sure your contractor has a good payment history. Unfortunately, you the home owner could be saddled with leins from suppliers and sub trades if they aren’t being paid in a timely manner, even though you have already given a certified cheque to your contractor as laid out in the payment schedule.