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With the warmer weather in Canada comes an influx in home renovations. Unfortunately, this can also mean that home renovation scams are out in full force as well. From overpricing to completely abandoned projects, chances are you probably know someone who’s had a less-than-stellar experience with a contractor. Here’s how to avoid that:

Ask for references. Be suspicious if you’re interviewing a contractor and he or she doesn’t want to provide references from past clients. A contractor should be proud of the work they’ve done for their clients and shouldn’t hesitate to provide you with photos and contact information for those projects.

Many people don’t trust online reviews, as they are easy to manipulate and, on some platforms, company owners can pay to remove negative reviews, but Yelp or Google searches can be a helpful part of reviewing a potential contractor, too.

Get multiple quotes. It can be hard to know if someone’s overcharging you when you have nothing to compare it to. In addition to getting references from more than one contractor, you should also be asking for quotes. Some will be on the lower end and some on the higher, but at least this will let you spot if one seems extremely out of line.

Be mindful of how upfront they are. A good contractor should be happy to keep you in the loop. Be wary of a contractor who doesn’t want to provide you with updates or is vague about how things are going. If you catch them in an actual lie— such as saying they installed something they didn’t—this is a major red flag.

Get the right inspections. In many Canadian municipalities, you are legally required to have the city inspect certain things after they’ve been renovated, like electrical work or windows. If your contractor tries to dissuade you from this, or if the projects they’ve installed don’t pass the inspection, this is another red flag.

Trust your gut. Sometimes you might not have any tangible evidence that something is wrong with your contractor’s work, but if your intuition says something’s not right, call your city’s building standards office and ask that an inspector come out and take a look. At the very least, it will put your mind at ease.

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