Survey reveals home improvement contractors aren’t being asked for credentials

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Alberta's economy is turning around, which means home renovations may be on your to-do list. However, a new survey reveals that home improvement contractors admit their clients aren't asking to see their credentials. Bindu Suri has more – Jan 13, 2018

With more than 40 years of experience under his work belt, David Litwiller wants you to ask him the tough questions, before hiring him to renovate your home.

READ MORE: Planning a home renovation? Tips for keeping your finances in order

Litwiller is the president of Litwiller Renovations & Custom Homes in Calgary.

“All too often, homeowners are hiring the personality, the friendly person. It does happen to me and frequently, I insist: please call my references.”

However, it seems some homeowners can be far too trusting, putting them at risk for costly mistakes.

READ MORE: Home renovations: The 4 big risks of borrowing against your house to pay for it

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TrustedPros offers an online service where contractors can post their credentials. It surveyed nearly 400 home improvement contractors across Canada.

It found 74 per cent of contractors said their clients do not ask to see their skilled trade licence and 71.4 per cent said clients don’t ask to see a municipal business licence.

When they do ask, there’s little follow-up.

“Homeowners do ask about workers’ compensation,” said Nicole Silver, of TrustedPros Inc. “However, about 59 per cent that we surveyed actually say their clients never mention anything about them vetting their information with the local workers’ compensation board in the province.”

Watch below from Oct. 7: Bryan and Sarah Baeumler are on a mad dash to complete some unprecedented renovations.

Experts want to hammer home the importance of doing research, because a contractor’s past work is a good indication of their future work.

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“Do they have references from other consumers?” Leah Brownridge with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) asks. “Don’t just take their word for it. Call those consumers, ask how their experience was. That could shed a lot of light.”

Litwiller agrees and said to find out “what they’ve been doing five years ago and recently.”

“You want to know their pattern, the pattern of the contractor.”

Litwiller suggests asking things such as: Was the project on schedule and on budget? Would the customer hire the contractor in the future?

You can also check with the BBB and look for a letter grade and the type of complaints against the company.

“It’s not necessarily a red flag if there is a large volume of complaints. It does allow the consumer to read those details and judge for themselves,” Brownridge said.

The extra time it takes to exercise due diligence could save extra money down the road.