Why Hire a Member

There’s no place like home … Whether you’re looking to build your dream home or cottage or renovating the one you’re in now, choosing the right Contractor for the job is the most important decision you’ll make!

Hiring local is a smart decision. Muskoka is home to many construction professionals. They know the area, understand the challenges in building here, have established networks of sub-trades, are equipped to handle lake and island work and will be here after your project is done to provide warranty and after-sale service.

The Muskoka Home Builders’ Association is a natural screening process to help you select a builder. Our stringent membership requirements ensure that our members comply with government regulations (such as WSIB  & HST registration, for example) and further, that they abide with our “Code of Ethics” which involves several procedures that protect homeowner’s interests. For more details see http://www.muskokabuilders.com/join-mba/

A tool for you … Overwhelmed with the task of selecting a Contractor? Just follow the steps inside for an easy checklist of questions to ask and factors to consider, to help you make the right choice.

 

Compare and decide: A tool for rating and selecting your contractor

You can use this chart as a guideline for the things you should be asking and looking for in a Contractor or also as a rating guide to help you make your final hiring choice.

1.       Proof of Workers Safety and Insurance Board Standing, Liability Insurance and HST Registration
By law, all companies in Ontario are required to be registered with and pay WSIB premiums. To ensure the contractor is registered and premium payments are up-to-date, ask to see a Certificate of Clearance.

Ask for the company’s Canada Customs and Revenue Agency Business Number.

All contractors should carry Liability Insurance to protect themselves and their clients. Ask to see a Certificate of Insurance.  It should show the name and address of the contractor, the issuing insurance company and the amount of coverage. We recommend a minimum of $2 million in commercial general liability. Be sure to check the issue and expiry dates of the Certificate, as well, to be sure it’s current and will be current when your project is underway. Follow-up if necessary to ensure renewal.

2.       Supplier References
By ensuring that the contractor regularly pays their material and sub-trade suppliers, you can protect yourself from any creditor liabilities. Depending on the size of the project, we recommend that you obtain up to 3 supplier references. If possible, obtain references from suppliers of materials that will be used in your specific job.

3.       Client References
A contractor’s ability to handle your project can best be determined by asking for reference from up to 3 clients. Look for answers to these questions:

Was the work completed on time and on budget?
Was their sufficient supervisory staff on site?
Did the contract return phone calls promptly?
Was the quality of workmanship acceptable?
Did staff conduct themselves in a professional manner?
Was the site kept tidy throughout the construction process?
Were extras and changes dealt with according to the terms of the agreement?

4.       Human Resources
The number of employees, including the number of supervisory personnel should be adequate for the size of the project. A small company with a single crew may well be sufficient for smaller projects but if your project is larger, ask the contractor to detail how they will handle your job. Ask if you will be their only project or if they will be handling other projects simultaneously.

5.       Employee experience, education and certification
Determine the level of training and experience of key and supervisory personnel. Are there licensed carpenters on staff? How many? Post-secondary degrees or Apprenticeships or other certifications are signs of skilled and committee employees.

6.       Equipment Resources
The contractor should have adequate equipment resources to complete the job efficiently. Is your job on an island? If so, does the contractor have their own barge or will they be relying on a 3rd party to transport materials to the job site. How will staff be transported to and from the job site? It is important to remember that it may be more cost-effective for some large or specialized pieces of equipment to be rented on an as-needed basis.

7.       Scope of Expertise (including sub-contractors)
Determine which specific disciplines are required for your project. The company should be skilled in all aspects or have access to and use reputable sub-contractors for those areas in which they have no expertise. Ask and discuss with your contactor which aspects they will be handling and which will be done by sub-contractors. Ask who the sub-contractors are and how long the contractor has been working with them.

8.       Years in Business
How many years has the company been in business under the current company name?

9.       Company Facilities
Determine if the company has a public office, administrative personnel, equipment/materials storage facilities etc. These may be indicators of the company’s ability to deal efficiently with problems during or after the construction process, return phone calls etc. Do they have a website? A portfolio of projects? Business cards?  Do they offer multiple ways to get in touch with key personnel (phone, cell, email etc.)

10.    Association Membership
Does the company belong to the local Builders’ Association? If not, why not? Association Membership is a very strong indicator of a company’s commitment to professionalism.

11.    Get it in all Writing!
Each contractor is different but whether you have a contract, a written agreement or simply a written quotation, ensure that your agreement with any contractor is in writing. Be sure that details such as price, payment schedules, start date, timelines and scope of project are outlined. Both parties should be clear on areas of responsibility such as who is responsible for permits and other requirements of the job outside of the actual construction (locating services, waste removal  etc.) Discuss and agree on how changes to the original agreement will be handled and include these details in writing as well.

12.    Warranty and After Sales Service
The details of the contractor’s warranty should be clearly spelled out in writing and should specify if the workmanship is under warranty and for how long. Details of warranties for materials should be relayed to the consumer along with any written materials that outline the homeowner’s responsibilities to ensure warranty conditions are met.

13.    Tarion Registration
If you are building a new home, enquire about the builder’s Tarion Registration status. A builder of a home or cottage that is suitable for year-round habitation (even if it isn’t lived in year-round), must be registered with Tarion. You can check any builder’s record with Tarion at www.tarion.com.

14.   Local experience and Connections
Hiring local is a smart decision. Muskoka is home to many construction professionals. They know the area, understand the challenges in building here, have established networks of sub-trades, are equipped to handle lake and island work and will be here after your project is done to provide warranty and after-sale service.
RED FLAGS TO WATCH FOR WHEN HIRING A BUILDER:

Be wary if a builder offers cash deals or discounts (e.g., no tax) for cash payments.

A builder without WSIB coverage (Workplace Safety & Insurance Board) puts the homeowner at risk as does a failure to have liability insurance.