Owning a home usually involves repairs or renovations. If you hire a contractor, avoid potential problems by doing a little research to make sure the contractor you choose is reputable.
Before the first nail is hammered, check references. Local building inspectors, the Nova Scotia Home Builders Association, Better Business Bureau, developers and previous customers are all good sources of information.
Many contractors have developed a contract for this purpose, however, it can be amended to include any of the above items. If one doesn't exist, you can develop it yourself. If appropriate, you may wish to have your lawyer review the contract before carefully reviewing it yourself and signing. Once your contractor signs the contract, you should both keep a copy.
Contracts for large jobs should involve installment payments to be made as each phase of work is completed. Do not make the final payment until all work is completed. Hold back 10 percent of the total value of labour plus materials for 60 days after the work is finished. This hold-back allows you to protect yourself in case your contractor runs into financial difficulty. Under the Builder's Lien Act, you have a responsibility to the sub-contractors and suppliers who provide labour and materials. If these people have not been paid (either by you or the contractor) they may place a lien on your home. If you hold back 10 percent, this will be the limit of your liability to unpaid sub-contractors. Sub-contractors can place liens without notifying you, so before paying any money, check the Land Registration Office for liens against your home.
Changes will most certainly be made before the job is finished. These changes should never be made without the written approval of the homeowner and the contractor. The precise changes and the cost increase or decrease as well as any additional time added to the job should also be outlined.
Following this advice may not deter all potential problems—a repair or renovation can be an amazingly complex undertaking. However, you reduce the risk of encountering a serious problem with your contractor when you research and plan your project through to completion.