A kitchen renovation is an exciting time for every homeowner. You will finally have a kitchen that works for your family. You won’t have to deal with the broken cabinets, limited storage, poor lighting, narrow aisles, and the many other issues you have with your current kitchen.
Perhaps too early to celebrate. What with the many horror stories you’ve heard about bad and unreliable contractors! Sometime last year, a Mississauga couple lost CAD15,000 after the kitchen contractor they had paid to renovate their kitchen disappeared with their money.
How to Prevent Disputes With Kitchen Contractors in Toronto
How do you avoid sticky situations and acrimonious relationships with contractors? It has to start with how you select your kitchen contractor and the contract you agree with them:
1. The Rule Of Three
The rule of three advises obtaining three quotes/estimates and three references from each prospective kitchen contractor. Interview each candidate thoroughly, making sure to ask probing questions.
Estimates must describe in detail the work to be done under the contract. They must also include an itemized list of all the materials and services required to complete the kitchen project.
If a contractor seems agitated or reluctant to answer your questions, move to the next one on your shortlist. It does not matter how many candidates you go through if that’s what it takes to get the right contractor.
Importantly, never accept quotes over the phone from a contractor that has not inspected the kitchen you are renovating. That is a sign of a lazy contractor who will cut corners and forgo due process at the slightest opportunity.
2. Verify Your Chosen Contractor Defore doing Business With Them
While your selection process may be thorough, you can miss some important details about your chosen contractor. To be sure your chosen contractor has a clean record, search them on Ontario’s Consumer Beware List.
The Consumer Beware List is a database of contractors that consumers have reported to the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services for different indiscretions. It is searchable by business name and type of service.
The businesses listed have either been charged and convicted under the Consumer Protection Act or other acts of the ministry or have not acted on or responded to two notifications of complaints lodged against them.
Besides checking the Consumer Beware List, you can also verify your chosen contractor against the list of contractors recently convicted under the Consumer Protection Act here. Convicts remain on the two naughty lists for a period of up to 27 months.
Of course, even with references provided, it is wise to check if the contractor has the relevant qualifications. The Province of Ontario advises to find out if the contractor’s tradespeople have certifications from the Ontario College of Trades. It is easy for anyone with a pickup truck to call themselves a contractor.
3. Avoid Handshake Contracts.
Engaging a kitchen contractor without a written contract is a rookie mistake. Unless you have a written and signed contract, you have no basis to call the company/person renovating your kitchen a contractor.
A contract sets the rules for your engagement, including what to do in the event of a dispute. Its purpose is to protect you in case of disputes. Make sure to put all your agreed terms down on paper.
Your contract needs to show the contractor’s name and address in full. As well as a work and payment schedule, the written agreement must also clearly describe the warranties the contractor is promising. If a contractor is unwilling to sign off on a document detailing all you have agreed on, don’t hire them.
4. Exercise Your Rights Under The 10-Calendar Days Cooling-off Period
In the Province of Ontario, you have a right to a 10-calendar days cooling-off period if you sign a home repair or renovation contract worth more than CAD50. Within these ten days, you may cancel the contract without any costs. As long as the contractor had not started work on the project.
Use the cooling-off period to have a lawyer review the contract to identify any loopholes. It is also a good time to make sure all the work agreed on the contract meets the requirements of the City of Toronto’s zoning bylaws.
5. Tie Payments To Milestones
A common trap and point of many disputes between homeowners and kitchen contractors is paying more than you have to as deposits. The Province of Ontario recommends paying a deposit of not more than 10% of the total project cost.
If a contractor asks for a large sum upfront, pull the hand brake. Whatever reason they give for the large down payment, it is always a red flag.
Apart from the deposit, it is wise to tie the rest of the payments to milestones. For example, commit to paying specific amounts after the floor is done, cabinets are fitted, after appliances have been fitted, etc.
Tying payments to milestones is the best way to avoid delayed projects. A contractor that has already received a big chunk of their payment is more likely to take too long on a project.
Consider hiring us as your kitchen contractor on your next home improvement project in Toronto. We are a local, licensed, and fully bonded contractor with an excellent track record. Contact us to discuss your project.