What You Need to Know About Home Renovations

There are certain precautions you should take when hiring a contractor for home renovations. Make sure to research your options and understand your consumer rights.

Quick Tips

  • You may need a building permit for certain renovations, so check with your municipality before work begins. You should also check zoning by-laws and rules.
  • When you hire a contractor, get references and check guarantees carefully. Do not sign a contract until you have met with them.
  • You may want to check your contractor's accreditations with the Ontario College of Trades.
  • Make sure you know exactly what you want. Changing plans in the middle of a project may add to the cost.
  • Get written, detailed estimates from 3 or 4 contractors and stay away from contractors who quote flat rates before inspecting your house.
  • Avoid making cash payments. If you do decide to pay with cash, make sure to get receipts and documentation.
  • Don't be pressured to sign a contract right away in order to take advantage of a door-to-door special.
  • Keep down payments to a minimum - 10% of the total estimate is fair, and never pay the full amount until the work has been completed.
  • Make sure everything you agree to is in writing - the cost, start and end dates, and who is responsible for the cleanup.
  • If a large amount of money is involved, you may want to have a lawyer go over the contract.

Your Rights

Your consumer rights are protected by the law and no one can take those rights away from you.

You have the right to change your mind 10 days after signing your contract, unless the work has already begun. This is called a cooling-off period.

The final cost cannot be more than 10% higher than the original estimate; however, a contractor and consumer can agree to change the estimate if additional goods and services are required.

Need Help?

Before you contact the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services to file a complaint, please take the following steps:

  1. Contact the company and explain your specific complaint.
  2. Put it in writing and keep proof of delivery of your complaint and any other communication with the company.
  3. If you are still not satisfied, file a formal complaint.

For More Information

  • Hiring a Contractor - This website has helpful information about hiring a contractor, such as sample renovation contracts and questions to ask a potential contractor. From the Canadian Home Builders' Association.
  • Your Rights When Starting Home Renovations or Repair - This webpage includes information and videos on how to hire a reliable contractor. From the Consumer Protection Ontario.
  • Consumer Beware List - This is a list of businesses that consumers have complained about to the Ministry. You can search for businesses by name or service type. From the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services.
  • Common Home Renovation Scams - A listing of some typical home renovation scans you should protect yourself from. From Consumer Protection Ontario.

This article is by includes information from the Ontario Ministry of Government and Consumer Services.

Last updated: September 14, 2016 4001542