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    It’s been 22 years ago, when I finally took the risk of a big CHANGE in my life.  From being an executive secretary in a German company, I didn’t know what will happen to my career when I decided to immigrate to Canada.  No one knows our future except our maker up above, but it [...]

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Page added on March 28, 2013

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Home Renovations

From the Office of the Deputy Premier Honourable Thomas A. Lukaszuk Minister of Enterprise and Advanced Education

Home renovations are popular for many families looking to upgrade their home. If you choose to hire a contractor to do the renovations or repairs to your home, it is important to first do your homework to ensure you get the results you are looking for in your budget.

The first step is to get written estimates from more than one business for your project. A written estimate should include the following:

  • a complete description of the work that will be done;
  • the type and quality of materials that will be used;
  • the project start and completion dates;
  • itemized costs and the total price;
  • a statement of any guarantees made by the contractor; and
  • the required method of payment.

It is very important to insist on a written estimate before beginning work, as verbal contracts are hard to prove, should something go wrong.

When choosing a contractor, make sure to check their work history. Ask your friends and neighbours if they have a contractor they would recommend. The Better Business Bureau is also an excellent source of information. You can contact them toll free at 1-800-232-7298. There are some warning signs to keep in mind when trying to find a company that is right for your renovations. Avoid contractors who knock on the door offering a special price because they are already doing work in the area, or those who promise you a discount if you allow them to use your home to advertise their work. Also, avoid those who provide a quote without seeing the job, demand a large down payment to buy materials, refuse to provide a written contract, provide a post office box address or will not commit to a specific start and completion date. All these factors could signal they are not a reputable company.

Sometimes things can go wrong despite your best efforts. If the completion date passes or it seems that the contractor has abandoned the job, start by sending a registered letter to the contractor. State the date you expect the contractor to finish the job and inform the contractor that if the deadline is not met, you will hire another contractor to finish the work using the money remaining from the original contract. Do this only after you have received an estimate from another contractor.

Other options for handling problems include:

  • following the dispute resolution process outlined in your contract, if applicable;
  • registering a complaint with your local Better Business Bureau; or
  • making a written report to your municipal inspection department if you believe the work does not meet Building Code standards.

You may have to consider legal action for compensation if you are unable to resolve your dispute with the contractor. More information on the civil claims process is available at

Contact Service Alberta if the job was misrepresented, the supplier defaulted on a prepaid contract or if you suspect the business is not following the requirements of the Fair Trading Act.

For more tips and detailed information on contracts visit


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