The very last thing you want if you’re considering a renovation is to end up as one of the many “horror stories” out there. And there are plenty of them.

Recently police warned Ottawa residents about shady contractors after the Fraud Unit received 10 complaints about people who were tricked out of money.

The phony contractors “agree to lower their fees and push you to make a decision, taking large upfront cash payments, and then will either not complete the work or disappear,” the police said in a statement.

They added: “…be skeptical of any who ask you for a lot of money upfront or offer incredibly low deals.”

Be wary, too, of businesses that look new and shiny but seem to have sprung up out of nowhere. It happens. You go back to them because there were problems with your renovation, only to find they don’t exist anymore ‒ that they’ve left town without a trace. 

Do your research and make sure your renovator is: professional; honest and insured; and will give you a written contract with at least a minimum warranty of two years. 

Make sure they also:     

  • carry the proper licenses and permits
  • keep their worksite organized and safe
  • stay current, through consistent and continuing education, in their professional knowledge of building codes, permit procedures and technical skills.
  • carry the RenoMark® logo. (It’s not essential, but it’s a very good indicator)
  • provide you with an estimate so you can be sure you understand what you’re getting 
  • agree to an interview with you about your project 
  • explain their process in full 
  • give you a very clear description of how and when your project will be created.

Other things to remember:

Don’t count on a lower price. It’s not an indication of quality. 

Take your time. If you’re rushed or pressured, walk away.

Get it in writing. That means everything, including each estimate.

Only hire a contractor with a sterling reputation. 

Understand the warranties they offer.

Talk to neighbours ‒ word of mouth is powerful.