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“I’ve never heard of Renomark.  It can’t be that important?

We hear this exact sentence all the time.  But then, we also hear a lot of stories of people who have had problems with their renovator and/or contractor.

Doctors, lawyers, accountants and other professionals all have regulations, rules, and licensing.  There used to be no such national or provincial regulation for renovators.  None!  Not kidding.  Which means there was, and still is, a huge underground economy of tradespeople.  And there is room for some unscrupulous individuals to take advantage of people.  There are ways to prevent fraud when planning your reno.

Back in 2001, some very professional contractors became frustrated when they were lumped in with the scammers.  They worked with home builder organizations to develop a nationally recognized certification for renovators.

Are you still wondering, “so what?”  Well, beyond the Better Business Bureau, how else can a consumer verify the legitimacy and ethics of a renovator or contractor?

The national Renomark certificate varies slightly by province, but at its essence is a Code of Conduct/Ethics that the renovator lives by.  Typically, the only contractors who apply are those with professional intentions and behaviours.  Examples of best business practices for these Renomark contractors include:

  • Detailed written contract
  • Minimum 2 year warranty
  • Worker’s Compensation for all tradespeople on site (which is often a home)
  • A commitment to carry licenses in each jurisdiction where they work, and to pull permits for work that is planned and completed
  • Minimum $2 Million liability insurance

So, when a homeowner plans a reno, and hires a Renomark Contractor, he/she knows that all of these other items are already taken care of.   They also know that other renovators and home builders are paying some attention to this contractor — because none of them want to tarnish their reputation if one renovator does a lousy job.

In Alberta, the only way to get a Renomark Certificate is to also have a Prepaid Contractor’s License.  Service Alberta oversees these licenses, reviewing them on an annual basis.  This also means, that a renovator’s contract must be approved by the lawyers at Service Alberta; they have a 14 point checklist specific to this license.  All other aspects of contract law also apply.  Service Alberta’s mandate is consumer protection.  Any homeowner can verify the prepaid contractor’s license at any time by contacting Service Alberta.

Why should anyone care?  Well, if you’re doing a large project, it will cost 10’s if not 100’s of thousands of dollars.  Don’t you want to do everything in your power to decrease the risks?

Most of us love our houses, and get very excited about the potential of making it even better.  Before spending all that money, it really is worth spending a little time to verify things like a Prepaid Contractor’s License in Alberta, and/or Renomark certification.  Then, with peace of mind, create that glamourous vision of your updated home!