With the recent floods in Southern Alberta wreaking havoc on so many homes, many Albertans will soon be in the market for a good contractor. While there are countless examples of trusted and reputable contractors doing quality work, there are sadly those who look to take advantage of such situations by doing less than promised. CREB®Now has compiled a list of tips on how to protect yourself when hiring a contractor.

When looking to find out someone’s reputation, there’s no better spot to start than with those you know and trust. With social media bringing even the faintest of acquaintances just a tweet away, homeowners can not only hear about past projects but also pay a visit and inspect the work for themselves. In addition to the quality of the work itself, inquire as to whether or not it came in on budget and on time.

Once you’ve moved past talking to those you know, enlisting the help of organizations like the Better Business Bureau, Service Alberta and The Canadian Home Builders Association can help inform you of your rights before and after hiring a contractor. Consumers can confirm whether a prepaid contractor is licensed at www.servicealberta.ca or by calling the Consumer Contact Centre at 1-877-427-4088.

Just like any hiring process, homeowners looking to renovate should compile and interview a list of candidates. Once relaying a detailed list of what the job will entail, homeowners should request a list of previous clients with contact information and even (if required) ask for financial references for the company itself. Use extra caution if the contractor tells you a contract isn’t necessary, that the entire job needs to be paid for up front or that you need to pay in cash or cheque. Homeowners can even drop by a current worksite to see how the company works.

Once the list of contractors has been narrowed down, it’s a good idea to obtain written estimates from multiple contractors. Estimates should include a complete description of the work, an itemized list of type, quality and cost of materials to be used, project start and completion dates, any guarantees made by the contractor and all payment information. Avoid any contractor who tells you you’re getting a limited time offer or quotes a price without seeing the job. Also beware of any contractor who asks for a large down payment for materials, as most reputable contractors maintain charge accounts with suppliers.

Specific trades such as electricians and plumbers must be certified to work in Alberta. A qualified tradesperson will be able to show you a pocket certificate issued by Alberta Advanced Education. To find out if the tradespeople you are hiring need to be certified in Alberta or to verify an individual’s status, contact the nearest Alberta Advanced Education Apprenticeship and Industry Training Office. Homeowners should also ensure the contractor and tradespeople have Workers’ Compensation Board coverage and ask to see an insurance certificate showing public liability and property damage coverage for all workers on the job.