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Handyman doing home renovations (Jupiterimages/Photos.com)
Handyman doing home renovations (Jupiterimages/Photos.com)

Magazine excerpt

Seven secrets to finding a good handyman – and avoiding reno hell Add to ...

There is also a risk of alienating good professionals. Caruk usually asks how many others are bidding for the job and if there are more than five he won’t even provide a quote. According to the CHBA, a written offer becomes legally binding and becomes part of the contract between you and the handyman should you accept it. That said there are always unexpected challenges in any project. Make sure you set aside a contingency fund in your budget.

6) What to expect from the contract.
The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation suggests a typical contract might include:

· Description of the work to be done – make this as detailed as possible. Include: prep work, items to be salvaged or reused, waste disposal, structural details, product information, size and location of things like doors, windows, closets and finishing work such as coats of paint and stain.
· Any permits needed and who is responsible for providing and paying for them
· Supplies and materials
· Sub contractors (if needed)
· Timing – when work is to commence and full completion date
· Terms of payment – fixed cost basis, cost plus or cost plus fixed fee
· Payment schedule – Never pay huge sums of money upfront. Some contractors will ask for a down payment as a show of good faith – on average this is about $2,500. Additional payments should be based on the work completed, not time put into the job
· Extras and how they will be calculated
· Washroom facilities and Utilities
· Standards of work (level of clean-up, hours permitted on site)
· Third-party liability insurance details
· Compliance with Workers’ Compensation and other laws
· Warranty
· Default by owner or contractor – indicates what happens if either owner or contractor defaults on terms of contract
· Dispute resolution – an agreed upon process to deal with potential conflicts

7) How to manage your handyman.
The contract forms the basis of your relationship with your contractor or handyman. According to Foster, “In all situations, effective management of a contractor requires clarity about what they are being hired to do, how and when they will do it, what their services will cost and when payment will be due, and what warranty do they provide on their work. It needs to be in writing. Every time. Period.” Once the job is underway, communication and mutual respect will play a vital role in keeping things rolling along smoothly. A good handyman or contractor should not make you feel uncomfortable for asking questions.

On the other side, try to be reasonable with your expectations. The CMHC advises homeowners, “Don’t overreact if something is wrong. Allow sufficient time for a response. As well, things the contractor can’t control, like bad weather and back-ordered components, can delay the job, so leave a little leeway in your schedule for them.” If things start to go pear-shaped, follow the dispute resolution method outlined in the contract. And if all else fails, you can cancel the contract. However, this will likely result in a cancellation fee. Be aware that there are several laws protecting consumers, which vary across the provinces and territories.

In addition to contacting your consumer protection authority, you can also get in touch with the Better Business Bureau. If legal action is necessary, you can take the contractor to small claims court. Small claims are less complicated than a formal court case and do not require the services of a lawyer. Decision in small claims courts are binding.

How to spot a handyman from hell

  • Bad presentation – Late for your initial meeting? Reluctant to answer questions? Vague about the technical aspects of how they’d handle the job? These are all indications that they might not be capable or trustworthy
  • Poor communication skills – Communication is absolutely vital to the success of any project. You need someone that is willing to listen to our ideas, concerns and suggestions and who in turn, is able to effectively discuss challenges with you as they come up
  • Requests cash only payments – Don’t be tempted if they offer a discount to you if you pay in cash. You want to keep as much of a paper trail as possible and all payments should be cheques or certified cheques
  • Doesn’t provide receipts – make sure you get a receipt for all your payments, signed and dated by the contractor
  • Does not want signage – Many renovation companies ask to promote their services to your neighbours by displaying signs on the property. According to the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation, if the company does not want to display a sign, it could be an indication it is trying to avoid scrutiny


From Canadian Real Estate Wealth Magazine, a monthly publication focused on building value through property investment, covering topics such as values and trends, mortgages, investment strategies, surveys of regional markets and general tips for buyers and sellers.

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