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Calgary homeowners warned to be vigilant when hiring siding contractors

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WATCH: Calgary homeowners are being warned to be vigilant before hiring any company to do their siding work. As Tomasia DaSilva reports, a massive shortage of skilled workers could lead to a costly job. – Jun 17, 2021

Calgary homeowners are being warned to do their homework before hiring a siding contractor.

The Siding Contractors Association of Alberta (SCAA) told Global News it has received numerous calls from people wanting to know how to properly vet contractors, following a number of severe storms in the city.

Read more: 40% of Calgary hailstorm claims still outstanding: Insurance Bureau of Canada

The SCAA said these storms can often lead to pop-up companies coming out of the woodwork.

“We’ve had companies that no one has ever heard of before that open up the following day, following a storm,” the SCAA’s Glenn Lockwood said.

Lockwood, who also the managing director of Can-Alum Building Products Ltd., added homeowners can be swayed into hiring these companies, considering the lack of skilled siders currently operating in the city.

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“There are a limited amount of professionals out there right now doing the work cause there’s a lot of work to do,” he said. “If you have to wait a little longer to get a proper company to do the job professionally and adequately — you’re better off.”

Skilled employee with Epic Group does some siding work on Calgary home. Global Calgary

Merlin Bartel, president and CEO of Epic Roofing & Exteriors agreed “cheap can be very expensive,” and he’s seen what can happen when homeowners choose cost over quality.

“We’ve had repairs that we’ve had to do anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000 per home,” he said. “Just to rectify what was done.”

He added depending on the situation, insurance may not pay for a second fix.

“If it was done by a third party, simply by choice of the homeowner to go with a cheaper estimate, almost all of the time those additional costs are translated right back to that homeowner.”

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Read more: City of Calgary issues property assessments following June hailstorm

Kari Taylor’s Calgary home took almost a year to be repaired after it was hit by a severe hail storm in July 2020.

“We came home to a trashed house and truck,” she told Global News.

She contacted eight companies for estimates, and was approached by a number of other companies she didn’t reach out to.

“There were signs in the park, knocks on the door, flyers in the mailbox,” she added. “So we had a lot of people looking for our business.”

She said she was worried by what she discovered when doing some research.

“A lot of information about pop-up companies that, after a storm, would just kind of pop up and come do roofs and siding with no kind of guarantee.”

She decided to go with Epic Group, and has been happy with the result.

“Better than new! Better colour! Better everything!”

Calgary homeowner admires the work being done on her storm ravaged home. Global Calgary

Read more: BBB warns of furnace and duct cleaning scams, unethical practices as winter approaches

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Vetting a siding company

The SCAA pointed out several things to ask before hiring any siding company. They include, but are not limited to:

  • How many years have you been in business?
  • Do you have liability & WCB insurance?
  • Are you members of the Siding Contractors Association of Alberta?
  • Are you members of the Better Business Bureau?
  • Do you have a business license and a GST number?
  • Will you provide a written warranty for labour and warranty? (How Long?)
  • What is your expected timeline for construction?
  • Will we get a written contract?

Bartel said it’s also important to find out if the company has a prepaid contractors license before any deposit is handed over. He also suggested asking your insurance company if it has a list of “preferred contractors.”

And above, all he said homeowners should ask for references.

“Check out Google reviews,” Bartel added. “What’s everyone saying about a company? We have nothing to hide.”

Both Bartel and Lockwood said the persistent lack of skilled siders in Calgary may continue to put homeowners at risk of hiring fraudulent and inexperienced people to repair siding, but ultimately it’s up to the consumer.

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