Dear Urban Diplomat: How can I make sure a contractor is legit?

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Published on: May 9, 2016

How can I make sure a contractor is legit?
(Illustration: Graham Roumieu)

We are renovating our 1950s bungalow into a modern, artsy loft. Our eccentric architect wants us to go with some obscure contractor he swears by, but we only found a couple of reviews. How can we find out whether or not to trust the company?

Contract Killer, Bedford Park

In the social-media era, your contractor’s absence from the web seems that much more shady. Scan the province’s Consumer Beware List for the business’s name. Keep in mind, though, that it’s not uncommon for a company to change its name if the reviews get ugly. If you want to give your architect the benefit of the doubt, ask him to provide references for the contractor—previous satisfied customers—but remember he ultimately works for you. There’s no reason to entrust your burnished-concrete fantasy to anyone you’re unsure about. The wrong contractor can botch your reno or go bankrupt halfway through the build, leaving you on the hook for materials and unpaid subcontractor wages. Even worse, those workers can put a lien on your property until you pay up.

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