Home Repair and Renovation

Your rights when dealing with home contractors


With the arrival of “instant” summer, many residents are beginning to weigh the prospects of hiring a contractor to do some household repairs or renovations.  There are some important steps to keep in mind when dealing with anyone who holds himself/herself out to be a contractor or renovator.


When dealing with home renovators or contractors consider:


  1. Asking two or three (3) companies to look at the job and to give you a written Never accept an estimate over the telephone or without the contractor inspecting the area to be altered.


  1. Keep down payments to a minimum (about 10%) and never

pay the full amount of the contract before the work is completed.

This helps ensure that the home renovation contractor will stay

to finish the job and protects you from financial loss if the company goes out of business before completing the work.


  1. Don’t let home renovation contractors talk you into making a

large down payment to “pay for materials”.


  1. Never sign a blank contract. When you are ready to sign a    contract, make sure all the prices are broken down and that the

materials and work specifications are spelled out.  Always get

a written contract before the work begins and make sure it

includes the name and address of the home renovation contractor.


  1. Ask about the warranty. Make sure it is clearly spelled out and

in writing.


  1. Chambers of Commerce, municipal building inspectors, city

hall and the Ministry’s consumer beware list, keep records on

home renovation contractors.  Check with any of these

organizations to find out if the firm your are considering for the

job has a record of reliability.  Make sure the contractor has

obtained a building permit from the local municipality.


  1. Under the law, the final price of the goods or services cannot be

more than 10% over the original written estimate.  If new work

comes up, your home renovation contractor should discuss it with

you and you should be asked to approve a “change order” that

includes the new work and a revised estimate to cover new goods

and services.


  1. If a home improvement contract is signed in your home you will

have a ten(10) day cooling off period if you wish to cancel the

contract.  However, if you asked for emergency repairs you will

have to pay for work done if it is of reasonable quality – but this

is not the case if you were misled into unnecessary repairs.


  1. Consumers are protected against unfair business practices such as

deceptive promotional and sales tactics.  If an unfair practice has

occurred, you may be able to rescind the agreement within one

year.  One way to do this is by sending the business a registered

letter outlining the fact that you want to cancel the agreement and why.



For more information and assistance please contact the Elliot Lake and North Shore Community Legal Clinic at 461-3935 or visit us on the web at