Barnabas Available August 12 – September 15

It is official, after a long stretch working in Regina, Barnabas will be available in Calgary for renovations. He will be taking a week off and will start looking at projects starting August 12. Our web site is down and I am working hard to get it back up and running in n the meantime browse through here – other than the photo album all information is the same.

Enquiries should be directed to barnnick@telus.net for quickest response. Please note we are expecting a higher than usual volume of enquiries and will get back to suitable jobs as quick as possible.

Tip Four – Hiring A Contractor – WCB

Workers Compensation – WCB

A Contractor should carry WCB and it is a requirement that he does so for all employees. It is also his responsibility to ensure that all Subcontractors under his supervision carry WCB. That being said – if he is not carrying the required coverage and an employee or subcontractor gets injured on your property the consequences fall to you the homeowner. Further consider that the business owner is not required to have personal coverage – again falls on the home owner should he or she get injured on your property. A legitimate contractor should have both personal coverage and coverage for his employees AND if not he must notify you so you can acquire appropriate coverage or find another Contractor.

Check this link for more valuable information on this matter:

Click to access EFS_Your_responsibilites_for_contractors_and_subcontractors.pdf

In summary ask for the contractors WCB number and obtain a clearance to ensure his dues are paid up to date. If he or she does not have WCB make sure you set this up for your self or find another Contractor.

Remember:

Tip 1 – Ask For References and Check Three Or More
Tip 2 – Require Appropriate Licensing And Ask For Copies
Tip 3 – Discuss General Liability Insurance And Ask For Proof
Tip 4 – Obtain WCB Clearance and Ask For WCB Number

Contact me anytime with questions, and concerns you might have when wading through potential Contractors to hire. I might catch a red flag that you miss or otherwise I might be able to put perspective on an issue or concern that is a non issue.

Tip Three – Insurance – Ask To See a Certificate

General Liability Insurance

A Contractor should carry General Liability Insurance to cover the possibility that something could go terribly wrong during your renovation project. This insurance protects both the contractor but most importantly you the homeowner. In a worst case scenario you want to be in the position where you are dealing with a Contractor’s insurance rather than the Contractors personal or business finances to recover loss.

Why specifically should your Contractor carry this insurance:

“We must carry it because it compensates clients (and others) for injury or damage we might inflict on them or their property in the course of doing our work. In addition, it covers the legal fees we might run up in the course of settling claims for such injury or damage. Thereby, general liability protects people we might harm and ourselves.” David Gerstel – Running a Successful Construction Company

In his book Gerstel speaks of an incident where the Contractor left an oily rag wadded up that then combusted and started a fire that nearly burnt down the house. The builder’s General Liability Insurance covered the cost to rebuild.

It is one of the first things we took care of in the process of business start up and I think most builders will have this insurance on place. The homeowner when dealing with us does not have to ask for copies of our insurance certificate but it is possible your builder might carry it but offer proof only after you ask. Ask for it – it is a simple measure and easy to send a copy by email.

You should think twice before hiring somebody without insurance BUT you should absolutely STOP short in your tracks if a Contractor says he has it but can not produce proof. It will be a time of shortage of skilled trades but also a shortage of trades that have everything in place at the business end. Make sure you at very least dealing with a straight shooter.

Remember:

Tip 1 – Ask For References and Check Three Or More
Tip 2 – Require Appropriate Licensing And Ask For Copies
Tip 3 – Discuss General Liability Insurance And Ask For Proof

Contact me anytime with questions, and concerns you might have when wading through potential Contractors to hire. I might catch a red flag that you miss or otherwise I might be able to put perspective on an issue or concern that is a non issue.

Trades People Need To Work Too! Post Flood – Hiring Trades

In Calgary post flood – when is the right time for the trades people to step in and start selling/charging for their services?

Let’s stop for a moment and think about this first by looking at some facts about trades people/builders:

1) Trades people are working in a number of capacities but many of the most skilled and conscientious builders are self employed.

2) These very same small business builders run one and sometimes two crews and often have families to support.

3) These same small business builders are busy during busy season – Spring, Summer and Fall but not always so busy in the Winter. They need to keep busy in busy season.

4) These builders and business people not only have slow seasons but also slow years. In the slow times the get underbid, undercut and many of them go out of business. They need to keep busy in busy years.

5) These very same small business builders only get paid when they are working. They are not on payroll and do not have sick days – time off equals no income.

Let’s stop for another moment and think about the situation right now in Calgary:

1) We flooded and many people’s homes were destroyed and/or partially destroyed.

2) Calgarians pulled together – builders and non builders along side one another tearing out walls, hauling garbage, pumping water – it was endless and we worked hard, most of us volunteering. Those that were not working were donating money, taking in children and in some cases taking care of their own, picking up supplies, dropping off supplies, and sometimes offering hugs.

3) When we finished in Calgary we moved on to High River – but some of us had to get back to work and some of us were still trying to rebuild the damage to our own homes and lives.

4) Life has not returned to normal and it won’t for a long time BUT life must go on – the economy has to live on AND for us Builders we must get on to building and charging for those services again.

I am writing this because there has been so many comments and criticism over the past short while about trades people and Contractors taking advantage of flood victims. This has not affected us personally because Barnabas was booked out of town and has not been in the city for any of this tragedy but the question has come to mind for me often. How long could we have dropped everything and volunteered? Honestly, with a young family to support maybe a week and perhaps two but that would have been a push. You see we are just people too and building is our business. We are good people and we want to help where we can for as long as we can and I think most of us did. The thing is we are also builders and we need to get back to business.

So what are other builders doing? I know some builders that are working in unaffected areas on previously booked jobs and I know others who are working in unaffected areas on newly booked jobs. You see people still want to hire us and we still want to work. It is our season to be busy but we don’t want people throwing apples at us, criticizing and marring our business name because we are the bullies taking advantage of flood victims.

So maybe just think twice before putting the builder for hire down. Think about what you want to see in your neighbourhoods and in your town. Good builders getting it done right – that is what you should want. The volunteering is amazing but the rebuilding is going to take time and reality is reality – builders are going to need to do much of that work.

Think again about the question:

In Calgary post flood – when is the right time for the trades people to step in and start selling/charging for their services?

The transition is now and so be easy on the guy with qualifications and building skills that just needs to get back to regular operations. If Stampede must go on…so must our livelihoods.

Slow Down – Recovering From Flood Damage – Calgary

This is not a tip per say but rather just something that came up today in conversation with a good friend of mine that is recovering from the flood. She said that many of the people she knows are hurrying now into the rebuilding process and she was advising them to Slow Down. I agree wholeheartedly.

Many people are still coming down off the adrenalin of gutting and are now trying to bring life back to normal. This is great if you have some energy left but if you don’t and you are tired, edgy, and overwhelmed…….Slow Down. Take a step back and keep running those fans to dry out your space.

You might not be in the best head space to make the right hiring decision and please do not rush in. Set priorities (drying and gutting – comes first) and wait on what you can. Wait for an experienced and qualified builder. It will be worth it – no sense traumatizing your lives further by being hasty. Trust me a bad building experience can be like living a nightmare all over again and we don’t want that.

So that is it – SLOW, STEADY, DRY

Tip Two – Hiring a Contractor – Licencing

A Contractor in business in the City of Calgary should carry a current city business licence. From the homeowners perspective it should give you a reassurance that this potential Contractor is committed to his role as a business person in your geographical area. Another bonus is that upon the original application of a business licence as a Contractor in the City of Calgary – police checks are done. I am not sure if they do checks behind the scenes annually but for us it was certainly done that first time.

Further to a City of Calgary licence is a Provincial licence which is required should your Contractor ask you for a deposit. Most people do not know this and guaranteed most Contractors collect a deposit without this licence. We do not have this licensing and so we do not collect money up front from our clients. We do however collect install payments upon completion of different stages. This usually includes a payment upon delivery of substantial material to the job site.

If you are in a position where a Contractor does not have a Provincial licence but otherwise you want to do business with them be prepared for something to the affect as I have mentioned with install payments. Do get those payments and payment plan laid out in advance and in writing. I am not sure why this is but we are associated with several good Contractors and most have never heard about this requirement of a Provincial License. So don’t rule them out but hold your own and negotiate before laying down a deposit.

Be smart, be educated and do not be afraid to ask for a copy of licences – whether you require both the City and Provincial is up to you but remember it is very easy to scan and send copies of these documents.

Remember:

Tip 1 – Ask For References and Check Three Or More
Tip 2 – Require Appropriate Licensing And Ask For Copies

Contact me anytime with questions, and concerns you might have when wading through potential Contractors to hire. I might catch a red flag that you miss or otherwise I might be able to put perspective on an issue or concern that is a non issue.

Tip One – References – Check Them

References – ask for several and call at least three!

I know this sounds obvious but people don’t do it. They get that warm fuzzy feeling about a Contractor – which is an excellent start but then they do not follow up by checking references.

We personally have a list of 15-20 references that we rotate through and sometimes we create a short list for references to similar work scope. I often forget to ask for fresh references but I do eventually add new names and numbers to the list. If your Contractor has been in business for any length of time he should have accumulated a list and be happy to provide it.

Some good questions to ask references:

How long ago was the work done and how did the workmanship hold up?
How were warrantee issues dealt with if any?
How long did your project take – as expected, longer than and if so why?
How were changes, additional charges dealt with and communicated?
Was the Contractor approachable and easy to negotiate with?
Did the Contractor meet your needs?
Did your project stay on budget? If not why?
Was paperwork in place to support you as a reference to what work was to be completed?
Was your property respected and did you feel secure?
Would you hire this Contractor again?

Renovations are not easy and most projects have challenges along the way. Make sure you are working with somebody who not only takes pride in workmanship but also has the backing of paperwork and good communication to get through those rough patches.