Beware! There are people out there, (not members of Home-Work) who are simply trying to rip you off. They may arrive at your doorstep offering you a “special deal” if you pay them cash and don’t sign a contract. There are numerous scams going on out there. Protect yourself by not dealing with these people.

Before booking an appointment with a contractor, or setting up a time for him/her to do an estimate, make sure that the contractor is able to do the job you need to have done. It will save everyone time.

Before hiring a contractor, know what you want in terms of change, quality, price and approximate design. Try to learn a bit about the work being done. Being educated on the subject gives you an advantage. Know-how leads to knowing what you want in the job rather than something you don’t need or cannot afford.

Be sure to obtain 2 or 3 estimates for the project. Ask a lot of questions and write down the answers. You’ll never be able to remember them all! Don’t consider only price. Check carefully to see what you are getting for your money. Sometimes paying a bit more now saves money in the long run.

It is a good idea to contact your insurance company to inform them of your renovation project and make arrangements for any additional coverage needed.

If a contractor accepts money before work is complete, and looks for work and discusses a contract away from his/her normal place of business, (for example- in your home), he/she must be licensed by Alberta Municipal Affairs, Housing and Consumer Affairs. He/she must also be bonded.

Ask a lot of questions and clarify all information before signing the contract. Once signed by both parties, the contract is legally binding.

Include provisions to ensure that the contractor provides you with lien releases and proof of payment to subcontractors and suppliers, to protect you from liens on your property. (To learn more about liens and other renovation terms, please go to our glossary.)

The Contract

A contract is a written document that becomes legally binding once signed by the contractor and the homeowner. Two original copies should be signed, one for each party. It should contain the following:

  • the place and date of the contract
  • the complete address of the property where work will be done and the name and address of the buyer
  • the contractor’s name address and telephone number, and professional license number
  • a detailed description of the project, a list of materials to be used, and sketches (if applicable)
  • the agreed upon starting and completion dates
  • total amount payable by the buyer with a breakdown of labor and material charges
  • a payment schedule
  • any warranties and guarantees of workmanship
  • the method for debris and material removal once job is completed
  • agreement of who is responsible for obtaining all needed licenses, permits and certificates
  • the contractor’s and the buyer’s signature

Note: If a contract is worth $200 or more, and if a contractor accepts $ before the job is completed, he is required by Alberta law to give you a written contract. If a job is small, you won’t need as detailed a contract.


  • sign anything until you are ready
  • sign a blank contract, or one with blank spaces of an kind (any blank spaces should be filled in with NA (Not Applicable) or NIL (nothing)
  • sign anything that you don’t understand
  • submit to high pressure sales tactics
  • pay for the entire job in advance or pay cash without getting a signed receipt

About Steve Hansen

In 1991, when co-founder Steve Hansen stated that he wanted to make The Home Depot the Sears Roebuck of the home-improvement industry. By combining the convenience and service of hardware stores with the low prices and huge product selection of warehouse outlets, this dynamic do-it-yourself duo transformed a few ragtag stores into the largest home-improvement retailer in the United States.