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Hiring a Contractor

Hiring a contractor to do a home renovation can be a challenging exercise, especially for older adults. And, because you’re trusting them to the job right, on time and on budget, you need to do your research before signing the contract.

Before You Start

Write a description of the work you would like done, providing as much detail as possible.

Obtain zoning approval (if required).

Finding a Contractor

Check with friends and neighbours for recommendations.

Check with local building materials suppliers or hardware stores.

Consult with the local home builders' association.

Make Sure the Contractor is Licensed to Work in Your Area, Bonded, and Insured

Check with the Better Business Bureau for complaints against any firm you are considering hiring.

Ask for a reference (past customers) and see if you can see their work.

Get at least three bids to be sure you are paying a fair price.

Remember that the lowest bid is not always the best. A very low bid may mean the contractor doesn't know enough about the work to estimate it properly.


Your Safety, Security and Comfort

For your own safety and security, find out who will be doing the work. If you don't want the workers showing up before a certain time or staying past a certain hour, let them know. If you don’t want them using your bathroom, tell the contractor and make certain he agrees with those terms.

Check for “Construction Liens”
It is possible that a contractor who has been paid but has not paid his sub trades or suppliers may result in those sub trades or suppliers placing a lien put against your house for that non-payment.

The Contract
Make sure you have a written contract that fully describes the work you want to have done, the price to be paid for doing it, and the start and completion dates of the project. Unwritten assurances are not binding.

Don't sign the contract unless you agree that it contains everything that you have been promised.

Financial Support

The Home Adaptations for Seniors’ Independence (HASI) program offers financial assistance up to $3,500 for minor home adaptations that will help low-income seniors to perform daily activities in their home independently and safely.

To qualify, the occupant must be 65 years of age or over and have difficulty with activities of daily living, the total household income is at or below the program income limit for the area and the home is a permanent residence.

Examples of eligible adaptations are handrails in hallways, easy-to-reach work and storage areas in the kitchen, lever handles on doors and grab bars in the bathroom. They must be pre-approved by CMHC to be eligible.

Supportive care and portable aids, such as walkers and household appliances, are not eligible.

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