When you choose a contractor for your home renovation, a contract is signed between you and the contractor that lists out all the works to be done and the details of the associated costs. The contract becomes a legal document and in the case of non-compliance or breach of the terms of contract, you can move appropriate courts of law for redressing your grievances.
However, when you choose to work with independent workers without any paperwork, your rights as a consumer are not protected by law. This leaves you at a disadvantage because in the case of disagreement with informal contractors, you cannot seek compensation or the laws cannot help you in absence of a legal contract.
Contract and its protections
When you execute a contract for your home renovation, usually a cost estimate is done. If such a cost estimate is part of the contract, the final cost of the work should not exceed more than 10% of the originally estimated cost. This is provided in the Consumer Protection Cost. So, once you have agreed to a cost in your contract, you know the prices cannot escalate mindlessly.
Any additional work that you include in the ongoing work will be dealt with separately for cost calculations.
If your home renovation project has elements, such as the installation of solar panels that qualifies for government incentives, it will be your responsibility to approach the offices concerned and secure the approvals and incentives for your plans. Your contractor might tell you that he can get the work done, but the contractor`s promise may not be supported by the law unless it is mentioned in the contract.
If you have a major renovation plan, you should take care of the following:
- Before you sign the contract, let your lawyer go through the contract and explain you what it all means, especially your rights and liabilities
- Find out from your municipal office if you need any building permit. It will be your responsibility to get all the approvals in place for building renovation work to start
- If your contract says that he can get the necessary approvals, make sure these are spelt out in the contract. Don’t allow him to start work until the approvals are in place
As an example, a local plumbing company in the Toronto area may be given plumbing-related works as part of the home repair and renovation project and you should execute a separate contract for this. Once everything that you want to get done is included in the list and a price estimate is done, there is no scope for confusion and misunderstanding. Generally working with reputed and professional plumbing service and repairs firms, the chances of misunderstanding are low, but having a contract doubly assures both the parties.
Cooling off period
If your home repair or renovation project is going to cost more than $50, you have a right to get a contract made spelling out every minute details of the project. Once a contract is signed at your home, you get a cooling off period of 10 days during which you can cancel the contract without any obligation on either party. But if the work has begun during the cooling off period and subsequently cancelled, the contractor may be entitled to payment for the work done and material supplies so far.
If you are going to execute a home renovation plan, it makes great sense to hire a reputed contractor and sign a contract with him. This would ensure everything mentioned in the contract is adhered to by the contractor including the work and costs.