Tips for Hiring a Contractor

Caleb PothierBusiness, Construction Tips, RenovationsLeave a Comment

woman shaking hands with construction man

It seems like just about anyone will call themselves a contractor these days, but that doesn’t mean all handymen are equally qualified.

While you may be tempted to choose an unlicensed handyman in order to save money that decision will likely cost you more in the long run. Poorly done work may require extensive repairs or may need to be completely redone, costing extra time and money.

That is why it is important to always go with a licensed contractor.

However, making sure you hired the right contractor for the job can be a daunting task. To help you choose the right licensed professional for your next renovation or repair here are four things you should do before you make a final decision.

Verify Pre-Payments

Contractors who ask for down payments or progress payments need to be licensed by the government in order to accept prepayments.

Check that your contractor is legally allowed to accept pre or partial payments before you hand over any money.

Check for a Contractor’s License

Most municipalities legally require businesses to hold business licenses, and local governments can revoke licenses if they find that a business is not obeying the law.

If a contractor holds a business license it means that they have met the city’s minimum licensing requirements and are legally allowed to operate their business within that city. A business license is required for contractors to obtain the necessary construction and trade permits needed for renovation or repair projects.

Ask for a Written Agreement

Getting an agreement in writing is a best practice for any business arrangement, and that includes hiring a contractor to do renovations or repairs. A well-written contract should protect both parties, and both parties should review the agreement carefully before signing it.

You should also make sure that the written agreement covers all the important details including:

  • The total price
  • How payment will be received and by when
  • The estimated start date as well as the estimated completion date or dates
  • A reasonably detailed work schedule
  • The contractor’s business license number
  • Who is responsible for arranging the necessary building permits and inspections
  • Proof of general liability insurance
  • Proof of workers compensation board insurance or private disability insurance
  • Full renovation plans (if applicable)
  • Product and material specifications including warranty information

Check Their References

One of the best ways to judge the quality of a contractor’s work before signing a contract is by reviewing their references. Make sure you ask for a list of references and their contact information and take the time to contact each reference.

Previous customers are usually happy to provide you with answers to your questions, especially if they were dissatisfied with their service. An hour or two on the phone can save you a huge headache, and a giant repair bill, later on.

Check for Insurance

Canada requires that all contractors hold liability insurance both for their workers (through their provincial Workers Compensation Board) and for the general public (through general liability insurance).

Paperwork is one of the most obvious places unscrupulous contractors cut corners, so if the contractor you are considering doesn’t have all their licenses and permits in it is a huge red flag.

Make sure the contractor shows you their proof of insurance and any other relevant licenses or permits, and make sure they are up to date.


Choosing a contractor doesn’t have to be a daunting task, and doing your due diligence will pay off in the long run.

  • Make sure the contractor you are considering has all of their licenses, permits, and other paperwork in order before you commit to anything.
  • You should also ask for, and check, their references and insist on a written agreement that protects both parties.
  • If your contractor asks for pre-payments or partial payments based on work milestones be sure to check that they are legally licensed to do so.

A little bit of extra work now could save you a lot of time, money, and energy in the future.

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