What Albertans can do when at odds with their renovation contractor
Your home renovation should be a time of excitement and anticipation for turning your home dreams into reality. But what happens when Albertans end up in conflict with their home renovation contractor? It’s a situation no one wants, but sadly it can occur all too often – usually due to unclear expectations or a lack of communication from both sides.
While most reputable contractors have tools and processes in place to help mitigate conflict, there are proactive ways Alberta homeowners can approach conflict to ensure their renovation project doesn’t go completely off the rails.
Avoid contractor conflict in Alberta from the start
Do your due diligence
Make sure your contractor is insured and check references. Also check their social media ratings and third-party member sites like the Better Business Bureau and Local Renovation directories Such as RenovationFind for ratings.
Get clarity on project timelines and payment schedules
This is all covered in a proper contract, and it’s important to read this section carefully. If you are unclear or don’t agree with something in the contract, talk to your contractor about it before you sign. Contracts are a two-way street and there should be room for reasonable adjustments.
Do not sign a contract you are not comfortable with. It’s better to take the time to find the right contractor for you, then resent the one you hire because you didn’t like the deal from the start.
Discuss how to deal with disputes in advance
Again, this should be written in your contract, but if it isn’t, ask to have it added to it or at the very least, get in writing what the contractor will do in the event of a disagreement. This way, when a dispute arises, you can use the written process to guide the solution, rather than rely on arguments or emotion to make it even worse.
Start the conversation with your renovation contractor
Deal with issues directly, but with patience. It is much easier to resolve issues with a calm conversation than being aggressive in your tone. Here’s some tips on how to do that:
Define Your Issue
Put the facts on paper before you discuss the issues. Being clear with yourself about project expectations will make it easier to have a conversation with your contractor regarding where the project went wrong.
Listen with intent to understand
There is a very strong chance that your conflict stems from a misunderstanding of the contract or misaligned expectations on either side. Give your contractor the opportunity to explain the situation, what their constraints are and how they plan to resolve it moving forward.
Remember, you will be in a direct relationship with your contractor for many weeks or months if it’s a large project, so it’s important to establish good two-way communication.
Resources for contractor conflict in Alberta
If your conflict is serious or escalates despite your best efforts, you may need to involve other people to help you resolve it.
Hiring a lawyer is a last resort and very costly, so look into these alternative options as a way to gain insight and maybe even some leverage.
Keep Good Records
First things first, if things start to go wrong you should keep good records and record conversations, dates and progress details in a journal. This is vital if you end up in mediation or court.
You should also take photos and video of the work to use as evidence of what is going on.
Alternative Dispute Resolution
Using mediation or arbitration is often the most cost-effective and quickest way to resolve construction disputes. There are various practitioners in Alberta, but most specifically you can use Construction Prompt Payment Adjudication, administered by the Alternative Dispute Resolution Institute, which creates rules for the timing of payments and sets out a streamlined adjudication process for disputes related to payment or work performed as an alternative to court.
This is a fairly new process that was introduced in August of 2021 and is designed not only ensure contractors are paid in a timely fashion, but also to make resolving disputes quicker and easier.
A holdback is designed to help homeowners avoid being caught in the middle of a dispute between a contractor and a subcontractor. In Alberta, 10% of the project cost can be set aside to be used in the event of any liens taken out by unpaid suppliers or subcontractors.
Your contractor will take 10 percent out of the original contract and then bill that 10% at the completion of the project if there are no deficiencies or disputes. Alberta Law states that the hold back period starts at a point of substantial completion. This is normally set by the contractor when the projects are approximately 90% complete. At this point your contractor has 30 days to complete the project. After the project is complete and the final walkthrough is completed and free of deficiencies, the balance owing is then due.
Lambert Brothers Construction Promise of Integrity
At Lambert Brothers Construction, we are proud to be bonded as a pre-paid contractor in the province of Alberta. This means your deposit is protected by the Alberta government through a bond. We back our work with solid contracts, insurance, WCB, Licensing, an A+ rating on the Better Business Bureau and RenovationFind.
Across the board, we start as strangers with our customers, but finish as friends, and approach each job as the best job we will ever do. If you are looking for a home renovation contractor you can trust, reach out to us today for a personalized site visit and quote.