I was a guest on Canada AM earlier this week talking about renovation “horror stories.” For the rest of the day I kept thinking of things I should have said, including the fact that the vast majority of the cases you read or hear about involve fly-by-night or “tailgate” contractors as opposed to professional renovators.


How does one go about ensuring they have the right renovator? As I stressed in the interview, homeowners have to make certain they are dealing with a professional contractor who is prepared to put in writing the work to be performed, the price, the specifications, timelines and payment terms.


With the recent implementation of the HST, there’s bound to be a spike in “underground” renovation activity or “cash deals” with no paperwork. But as I told the interviewer, without a contract, homeowners have absolutely no recourse should things go awry.

 

I have never concluded the debate with myself about who drives the underground economy. Is it homeowners asking for a better price if they pay cash or contractors offering a better price in lieu of a receipt?


Not that I’m counselling tax fraud, but if it’s the contractor offering to work under the table, you should be expecting a massive discount, not a token reduction. Think about it — not only is the contractor not paying sales tax but they are also likely evading much higher income and payroll taxes.


If it’s the homeowner asking for a cash discount, I would merely say that if the contractor is willing to cut corners when it comes to paying taxes, what makes you think he won’t do the same thing with your home renovation?


As the title of this column suggests, your best bet is to get it in writing. On that note, all RenoMark contractors are required by BILD to offer a detailed, written scope of work under our renovation-specific Code of Conduct. Visit renomark.ca for more details and check out our searchable database of professional renovation contractors.


– Stephen Dupuis is president and CEO of the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD). He can be reached at president@bildgta.ca.

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