By Guest Writer Janice Campbell of Spencer Safety Solutions
Over the years of home ownership, I have done several home reno projects myself. Some things I learned by watching my dad or other family members and friends, while others I just figured out on my own. I have done a small roofing project, drywall, painting (a lot of painting over the years), flooring, tiling, plumbing, and more!
As a homeowner, it can be very helpful to understand some basic home maintenance to do yourself. Other times, it is best to call in the professionals.
Earlier this year, we had our kitchen redone. We laid the floor tile, painted the walls and patched the drywall to save ourselves some money. But I am glad we called in a plumber to repair the plumbing in the kitchen as it was a mess! I would also never install my own kitchen cabinets.
A couple of years ago, we upgraded our bathroom. Again, we brought in a contractor, primarily because we did not have the time, but also because we knew he would do a faster and better job of it. As well, I would never upgrade any electrical myself. That is one thing I will never do myself. There are too many hazards associated with that.
There are several things you need to consider when hiring a contractor as a homeowner. Obviously, you want to make sure they have the ability to do what needs to be done.
Know Which Trades are Mandatory
Within Canada, there are a few trades that are considered mandatory trades. These are the trades that can only be completed by those who are licensed in that trade. For home renovations, this primarily includes electricians, gas fitters, plumbers, HVAC mechanics, and sheet metal workers. To determine whether the person you are hiring has the required qualifications, you can either ask them directly, which can open the lines of communication with a contractor you are considering, or you can search for their qualifications online at Skilled Trades Ontario. This will tell you if their dues are current and if they are an apprentice or a journeyperson.
Keep in mind that even though some trades are mandatory, there are some exceptions when it comes to working on your own house. Please review that, especially with your insurance company, before starting any project.
Make Sure You’re Covered
The next thing to discuss with any potential contractor is whether or not they are fully insured. This would include both liability insurance and WSIB coverage. The liability insurance will protect you as the homeowner if the contractor causes an incident while on your property, or gets injured while on your property. The WSIB coverage will ensure their employees are covered. A few years ago, the Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development (MLITSD) really started cracking down on contractors working under the table. Part of that initiative was to ensure contractors had the appropriate insurance.
Check for Proper Training
Depending on the project you are having done, you also want to ensure the people doing the work have the required training. For example, with a roofing company, or anyone having to work at heights, you want to ensure their workers have the required Working at Heights training. This is mandatory for anyone working in construction. This came into effect following the swing stage collapse on Christmas Eve in 2009, where 4 workers were killed as a result of not having adequate fall protection or training. Again, feel free to ask them for verification.
Get a General Contractor
If you are building a new home, or having an addition put on your house, you want to make sure that you hire a general contractor to manage all the other contractors being hired to complete the work. If you, even as a homeowner, are hiring multiple contractors to complete work on the same project, at the same time, you would be considered the Constructor. There are a lot of responsibilities and liabilities placed on Constructors based on the Occupational Health and Safety Act. As the Constructor, you would ultimately be responsible for the health and safety of everyone doing the work on your project. Hiring a general contractor to take on this role will take the responsibility off you. They are familiar with this and it is part of the cost of doing business.
Doing renovations on your home can be scary and stressful. You want to make sure you have all of the necessary information before you get started. It is also important to communicate openly and politely with any potential contractor about concerns you may have.
Home Reno Help
If you have any questions about completing a reno or hiring a contractor, contact Janice Campbell at Spencer Safety Solutions or visit the Infrastructure Health & Safety Association’s info page here.
Janice Campbell is the owner of Spencer Safety Solutions and has over 16 years of experience in the world of construction. She provides consulting services, specializing in small businesses in the Grey-Bruce area and throughout Ontario.