TV and radio stations trumpet commercials of hardware and other traders related to the home maintenance and renovation sector, mailboxes are full of advertising cards and flyers and itinerant traders have begun their canvassing to offer you their services.
There is no doubt that we are witnessing the start of the high season of renovations and / or other home improvement projects, and many are keen to take on the big maneuvers. It can be postulated that many spent the winter planning their project while for others, the momentum will be, say, more spontaneous, even improvised.
To this table will be added, in a sadly more dramatic register, the consumers of the areas affected by spring floods and who urgently need to undertake major works.
In the majority of cases, everything is probably going well enough except for the few budget overruns that excesses of enthusiasm or hasty planning are likely to entail. However, it is undeniable that problems are commonly emerging in the area of maintenance and renovation services in the housing sector. A glance at the roll of honor in the most problematic areas is enough to convince oneself.
Annually, around 150,000 people contact the Office and nearly 90% of them have a problem to solve. For the 2018-2019 fiscal year ending March 31st, nearly 9000 consumers reported various difficulties in this area of activity. This places the consumer sector second only to the entrenched second-hand car sector at the top of problem areas.
We find everything
Reading the story of complaints in the area of home renovation, we can see that we find everything: serious companies, recognized, who do a professional job of quality, but also unfortunately, the adventurers of the renovation .
Some furrow neighborhoods in search of potential customers and do not hesitate to resort to dubious strategies as you “sensitize” by alerting you about alleged problems that affect your property, problems they will offer you naturally – and sometimes insistently – to remedy by retaining their services.
These behaviors should always inspire you with the image of a red light indicating a danger in which it is wise to step back. Some require exorbitant amounts for poorly completed, unfinished or unnecessary work. Caution is required and checks should be made before committing.
It is therefore recommended that consumers who receive the unplanned visit of itinerant merchants not sign the contract that could be offered to them at once. Take the time to think about it and resist the pressure, it will still be possible to commit a few days later. Check the need to proceed with the work and get estimates from two or three companies to compare prices.
Your papers please
Then check that the company with which you plan to entrust your work holds a traveling merchant’s license in the cases that apply and also a license issued by the Régie du bâtiment du Québec (RBQ). Both devices provide financial protections for consumers in the event of a corporate disaster. Finally, you can check if the company has been the subject of complaints to the OPC.
Dates and Under
At the time of conclusion of the contract, require the contractor to make a detailed description of the work to be done and indicates the main relevant information such as the cost, the dates of completion and completion, payment terms, etc. Avoid paying a large deposit.
It should be noted that the Consumer Protection Act contains no rule as to the amount that a merchant may charge before starting work. It is recommended to negotiate the smallest possible amount, to provide for partial payments at certain stages of the execution of works and a final portion once the work is completed.
Gary Frost is director of Client Services at the Office of Consumer Protection