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Cutting corners to save on renos can cost down the line

It’s important to seek out a home renovator you can count on — going with someone less reputable to spare yourself a few bucks could leave you on the hook for whole lot of grief later. (Associated Press files)

Residential renovations are big business in Manitoba.

In 2017, Manitobans invested more than $2.5 billion into renovation projects to improve their homes. This created more than 26,500 direct jobs and in excess of $1.5 billion in wages for workers in Manitoba’s residential-renovation industry. With Manitobans investing that much into renovating their homes, it’s important they have renovators they can count on.

All Manitoba Home Builders’ Association (MBHA) renovator members must meet the RenoMark program criteria.

RenoMark is the renovators’ mark of excellence in Canada, and provides consumers a marquee source of renovation advice and professional renovation contractors. RenoMark renovators understand the value of customer service, provide warranties and continually educate themselves on trends, materials and new regulations, so homeowners know their renovation process will be expertly handled, meeting the highest industry standards.

Unfortunately, many people feel this level of protection isn’t worth the extra expense, and instead choose to find someone "handy" who is willing to do a cash deal with no contract. This also means there is no record of the work ever being done. So, if there are problems, there is no recourse for the homeowner. If the homeowner does an under-the-table cash deal, and then encounters a problem a month or two after the project has been completed, there really isn’t anything they can do in terms of having the situation fixed.

The homeowner is also on the hook for all liability regarding the project if the contractor fails to take out the required permits or suggests the permit be in your name. This is very important, because during a renovation, your home becomes a worksite. And if the permit is in your name, or you don’t have one, you become the prime contractor by default. If someone gets hurt as a result of working on your property, you — not the contractor you hired — are responsible. This is a significant risk many homeowners are unaware of.

RenoMark renovators, on the other hand, always provide a written contract, offer a minimum two-year warranty on all of their work and they will take out all the appropriate permits and licences required for the project. This is your best insurance to ensure that your renovator — not you — is responsible for any problems encountered during or after the work is completed.

The Canadian Home Builders’ Association (CBHA) has also continued its "Get it in Writing!" public-awareness campaign to inform consumers on how best to protect themselves when hiring a contractor for renovations. Get it in Writing! provides great tips on how to decide what to ask contractors before you hire them, what a price quote should tell you, what warranties you should get, why a written contract is essential and how building permits and inspections keep the whole project both legal and safe for you. Another great tool to use when planning your renovation project is the CHBA "MyReno App" available to download, with tips on how to plan each step of your project and how to hire a professional. The MHBA also has great resources and videos on how to find the right contractor for you on our website at homebuilders.mb.ca.

Saving a few dollars by skipping the contracts and permits may seem like a good option when you are hiring someone for your next renovation project, but it’s a decision that could come back to bite you. Protect yourself and your investment by asking the right questions ahead of time and hiring a contractor that will do the job professionally.

Lanny McInnes is president of the Manitoba Home Builders’ Association.

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