Here are some of the most common renovations myths we’ve heard over the years, and the truth behind them:
MYTH: We don’t need a permit for interior or electrical work or for minor renovation work.
FACT: As a homeowner, you can legally perform your own electrical work, but this is an area where amateurs can cause disastrous results. You cannot get an electrical permit for your contractor to do the work; it is a building code infraction. A reputable contractor hires licensed electricians to do your wiring. Illegal wiring has caused too many fires.
Any structural, heating, plumbing, or electrical changes require a building permit from the City of Toronto. Avoid any contractors or designers who tell you otherwise. They must have a Building Code Identification Number (BCIN) to apply for a building permit. A permit is for your protection. Permits are based on building codes to promote health and safety, fire protection and structural integrity. Some minor cosmetic changes may not require a permit. Contact the Toronto Building Department to get the facts.
MYTH: Self-employed contractors don’t require Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) coverage.
FACT: WSIB protects Ontario workers, in the event of injury on the job. If the contractor does not have WSIB coverage, and someone working on the project in your home is injured, you could be liable for the cost related to the worker’s injury. Before anyone works on your home, ask the contractor to show you a WSIB clearance certificate, dated within the last 60 days. You may check the WSIB website www.wsib.on.ca for more information.
“MYTH: “If you take the middle estimate, you’ll get the best value”
FACT: This overly simplistic approach to contractor screening, makes no sense at all. For this approach to work, every contractor would need to be “equally competent”! If you get three contractor quotes who are all incompetent, you’ll only know that you’ve paid too much (for a poor result) when the project is complete. Honest, professional contractors can only give you “an accurate quotation” when you can “specify exactly” what you want them to do. “Screening contractors” requires a lot more research than “how much would you charge for”. Most renovation service providers charge “what the market will bear”. With the chronic shortage of skilled people to work on your project, finding good value will require careful screening, to avoid disappointment.