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Vetting Your Contractors- Why is it important

Most homeowners biggest fear when it comes time to perform a renovation on their home is finding out your contractor isn’t quite on the up and up. We’ve all heard the nightmare stories of contractors that cheap out, cut corners, and then ghost the homeowner when they find out and question the work. In this blog post, we are going to pass along some tips for properly vetting your contractors to ensure you are getting the service you deserve.

Cheapest Isn’t Always The Best!

As life is getting more expensive and extra funds are harder to save for in this economic climate, finding ways to cut costs is becoming imperative. Unfortunately, we’re seeing many homeowners cutting costs in the wrong places. One example is having unlicensed contractors complete their own electrical work. This is illegal and the risks far outweigh the small costs saved upfront. Work by unlicensed electricians have been found to be up to four times more faulty than work done by licensed contractors (source: Electrical Safety Authority). The increase in calls from homeowners asking us to repair poor electrical work performed by contractors they’ve hired is steadily increasing.

What are the risks?

Electrical fires are one of the most common threats homeowners face (source: National Fire Protection Association). Many times we are brought in to fix electrical work that is not up to code, we are often shocked by how careless the previous contractor was, leaving the homeowners at a serious risk of fire. If you experience an electrical fire in your home due to faulty wiring, your insurance company will look to see if there were any electrical updates completed in the home. If there were, they will want to see your ESA permit for the work performed. The only people allowed to pull an electrical permit are the homeowner and the licensed electrical contractor. The consequence of not having a permit could be that your insurance provider may not approve your claim.

As a company that genuinely cares about our clients, it's not a fun conversation to have with the a homeowner that not only was the electrical work done illegally, it’s going to cost them again to have us come in and rectify the poor workmanship.

Imagine you spend $100 000 on your dream kitchen and you open up your cupboard to find this! That was the reality for one of our clients who called us in to fix the electrical work completed by an unlicensed contractor. Unfortunately this cost the client $6,000 in extra costs outside of what they paid their contractor (this photo is just one of the many issues we had to resolve) . Moral of the story, going with the cheapest rate isn't always the cheapest in the end.

Below are photos of a house we recently repaired due to an unlicensed contractors poor wiring job

​BEFORE: High probability dry wall screws will puncture wires which leads to a fire hazard

AFTER: Blais Electric repaired wiring and costing the client an extra $1,500 in the end.

So, what can you do? What do you need to know?

  1. General Contractors are not licensed to do electrical work and they usually subcontract it. Verify that any business subcontracted for electrical work has an ECRA/ESA licence number.

  2. If your contractor says they are doing the work themselves because it's just a ‘small job’ and they want to ‘save you money’, this is a huge red flag and is illegal.

  3. Ask to see their liability and WSIB insurance. Any trades person must have both of these to operate legally. If they perform work on your home and something happens (someone, including the trades person, gets hurt during the reno) and they do not have WSIB or liability insurance, the fault will fall back on the homeowners insurance which has the potential to substantially increase your rates.

  4. If your contractor asks you to take out a permit or notification with the Electrical Safety Authority so they can do the work, that is a red flag and is illegal.

  5. Check for a ECRA/ESA licence number on the contractors work vehicle.

  6. Ensure your estimate includes an ECRA/ESA licence number and/or ESA fees for the notification

  7. If your contractor offers more than just drywall, flooring, tiling, snow removal, eavestrough cleaning or other home maintenance and improvement work, they are likely not a licensed electrician

You can find more information on how to vet an electrical contractor by visiting ESA’s website.

While it is true that operating ‘above the board’ increases the cost of the overall project, in the end you will be protected from the nightmare situation that can arise from working with unlicensed electrical contractors.


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