What to Look For When Hiring a Contractor

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The Handyco Workvan

No matter how great you are at DIY sometimes you have a job that needs a professional touch. It is important that you hire the right person for the job, but what sort of qualifications should you be looking for?

If you advertise your project you may find your inbox and phone line flooded with inquiries, but you should beware of contractors that are unqualified or uninsured. You need a professional who will not only deliver great results but also shield you from liability should something go wrong.

As you narrow down the candidates make sure you ensure that your final pick has the experience you need as well as WCB coverage, liability insurance, a valid business license, a valid professional license, and an incorporated company.

Experience Matters

Experience really matters when it comes to selecting someone for your maintenance or renovation project. Issues may arise that an inexperienced contractor is unable to handle properly.

Choose a company that has a solid history and make sure the contractor assigned to your project has enough experience to handle your project.

Sit down with each contractor you are considering and interview them about their experience in the industry and how it applies to your project so you can make an informed decision.

Workers Compensation Insurance

Even if you are only hiring someone for a small project it is important to plan for possible problems. When you hire someone to work for you there is a chance that they may get hurt on the job, and without the right type of insurance, you could be held responsible.

Workers Compensation insurance is a form of insurance provided by provincial Worker Compensation Boards (WCB) that provide medical benefits and wage replacement services to workers who are injured on the job.

In exchange for this safety net workers voluntarily give up their rights to sue their employer and the owner of the project they were working on when they became injured. In Canada, each provincial and territorial government manages its own Workers Compensation Board and sets out laws that govern the relationship between contractors and the WCB.

In some jurisdictions, independent contractors are automatically covered by the WCB, but this is not the case in all provinces and territories. Some jurisdictions automatically cover employees, but not contractors, and some view any contractor hired to do maintenance as an “employee” of the person that hired them.

Any reputable contracting company will ensure they are covered, but it is still important for you to do your own due diligence. Before you hire anyone, make sure you are familiar with the WCB rules in your jurisdiction and know what you need to do to ensure any contractors you hire are covered.

Liability Insurance

If your contractor injures someone or damages their property you may be held legally responsible. You may also be on the hook if your contractor damages any of your property while they are working on your maintenance or renovation project, leaving you with a hefty repair bill and little hope of recouping your losses.

Contractor liability insurance is designed to protect you, and keep you from being held legally responsible for the actions of your contractor. This insurance also covers any damage your contractor may do to your property. In order to make sure you are protected you should insist that any contractor you hire carry valid liability insurance.

Valid Business and Professional Licenses

Occupations that require a high level of skill or are deemed dangerous when performed incorrectly require licenses. This includes property improvement, so you should insist on only hiring contractors that carry valid business and professional licenses. Unlicensed contractors may not be qualified enough to do the work you require and could end up causing more harm than good.

Business licenses and professional licenses are not the same things.

  • A business license allows a company to engage in their business because they have met the jurisdictions regulatory framework governing their occupation.
  • A professional license is a document that proves that a professional has the necessary skills, achieved through examinations and practices, to perform work in a specialized area.

If a contractor is missing one or both of these important documents it is a huge red flag. You should check with your provincial licensing board to ensure the contractor you are considering has both of these documents in order before you agree to hire them.

Incorporated Companies

When a contractor is incorporated it means that they are providing their services through a corporation as an independent contractor, not as an employee or sole proprietor.

Hiring an incorporated contractor is a good way to shield yourself from financial liability should your contractor have any trouble with the Canada Revenue Agency and avoid any auditing trouble.

Conclusion

Choosing the right contractor for your project can be a confusing, frustrating, and even daunting process. However, by ensuring you only consider candidates that are qualified and possess the appropriate insurance and licenses you can easily weed out unqualified or unscrupulous individuals.

Compromising on any of these important points could leave you open to legal liability, or land you with a hefty bill for damages you did not cause.

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