s pe c i a l f e at u r e
Wedne sday, A pril 30 , 2014
Leader-Post • leaderpost.com
Home renovations require research and planning The home renovation and general contracting sectors remain extremely busy, and reputable contractors may already be committed to a full season of work. Recruiting and retaining competent skilled labour remains a challenge in the industry. Many contractors are so busy that they may not be able to consider your project until next year, and smaller jobs are either being ignored or placed on the back burner. You can expect contractors to focus on the most profitable work. When homeowners are seeking contractor services such as landscapers, roofers, electricians and plumbers, and drywall and painting services, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) encourages consumers to take the following steps: • While you may be anxious to get things started, avoid letting your emotions control you. Don’t be pressured into making an immediate decision with a long-term impact. It is your project and home, so be pro-active in selecting a company and not re-active to sales solicitations. • Do your research. Check with your own insurance company about your policy coverage and how it may relate to your home improvement project. • Confirm contractor’s insurance coverage, which should include a liability component. Ensure that bonding is in place when required. View actual copies of insurance policies, if possible. Make phone calls to the appropriate offices if you can’t see actual documents. • Get multiple quotes, three to four estimates, that include references to customers that the contractor has already served. Ensure that quotes are based on similar specifications, materials, timelines, and other details you can quantify and identify. Reject ballpark estimates that are too general, as these tend
to result in dissatisfaction and disputes. • Check references, especially those customers who had work done that is at least one year old. Visit the work sites and make your own observations about quality of workmanship. • Be wary of door-to-door workers who claim to have materials left from a job “down the street” and can fix something right away. Reject businesses that do not have a permanent place of business. If salespeople go door to door, then a Direct Sellers License is required. Call the BBB or Consumer Protection office for confirmation of this license. • Confirm licensing. Always verify that the contractor is properly licensed to undertake the project. Check with municipal offices to determine what building permits and technical inspections are required and when they should occur. Building and technical inspectors may need to view some work before interior finishing starts. • If one estimate seems much lower than the others and it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Contractors with “below-cost” bids seem attractive, but are often less skilled and may provide a lower quality of workmanship. There is a direct correlation between the price paid and the quality of the outcome. Quality of workmanship is not regulated. • Discuss options with contractors before contracting. Clarity and understanding about what is possible and financially affordable add to your satisfaction. • Get it in writing. A written agreement will benefit you and the contractor. Be sure that name, address, license numbers and phone numbers are included in the contract. Read and understand the entire contract, including the fine print. Never sign a blank contract, and ensure you get a copy of the signed
document. Remember you are bound by the terms of the contract, as is the contractor. All changes agreed to as the project progresses should be recorded and added to the original contract. All amendments should reference the original contract date, number, amount and signatories. Clear and detailed indicate that the contractor is thorough and has prepared an accurate estimate. The more precise, the less room left for misunderstandings. The following is a partial list of items contracts should include for any project: • Details about all materials, including grade or model, amount or quantity, manufacturer, measurements, and colour. • Describe the scope of work to be done, including deconstruction, reconstruction and clean-up. • Assign responsibility for repairing or replacing any unintended damage to exterior or interior finishes incurred during the course of the work, including assigning financial responsibility for such damage. • Identify payment procedures, terms, timing, holdback, and approximate start and end dates. • Stipulate warranty coverage terms and what is covered around materials, workmanship, labour and any other relevant items. • Identify a process for addressing unplanned interruptions or changes in the project work. Understanding each other’s expectations clearly before starting the project contributes to a much higher level of satisfaction, and a stronger and more respectful
working relationship. Doing your homework in advance leads to more positive outcomes in the end.
Complete Electrical Services
1-888-352-7601 Commercial & Residential
Darwin Chobot: 306.581.9878
Feedback opportunity The Better Business Bureau (BBB) invites readers to submit any subject matter they might want to see discussed in the Start with Trust features. Comments can be emailed to email@example.com, or you can find the BBB on the web at www.sask.bbb.org.
Federal anti-spam legislation
Spoofing is here to stay
Fake emails have been circulating claiming that businesses have a Better Business Bureau (BBB) complaint. Other organizations are not immune; Canada Revenue Agency and Royal Canadian Mounted Police The following information is sourced from the have warnings on their websites about fake emails and phone calls Government of Canada website (http://fightspam.gc.ca/ coming from individuals or organizations pretending to be representing eic/site/030.nsf/eng/home) and is intended as general those organizations. Most banks have been spoofed over the past information for both consumers and businesses. decade. BBB employees get emails from senders pretending to be their In December 2010, the federal government passed new bank and asking for updated information even though the employee anti-spam legislation that will enter into force on July 1, does not bank with the identified institution. Copycat messaging, which 2014. The legislation is intended to help protect Canadians typically has a “copycat” website referenced, is sophisticated in terms while ensuring that businesses can continue to compete of presenting a “virtual” copy of the actual organization and is known as in the global marketplace. On Jan. 15, 2015, sections of “spoofing.” the Act related to the unsolicited installation of computer The purpose of spoofing is to get you to click a link that either installs programs or software will also come into force. malware on your computer or takes you to a website that appears The first and most significant element is that the law real where you are encouraged to enter other information that may will prohibit the transmission of commercial electronic put you at risk of identity theft or other scam activity. Bogus emails messages (CEMs) without the recipient’s permission. may purport to come from almost any widely recognized brand or This will include messages to email addresses and social government agency, and consumers and businesses must become networking accounts, as well as text messages sent to a more cautious about potential risks associated with opening emails and cell phone with the intention of stimulating a commercial text messages, or they risk becoming victims. transaction of some sort. The legislation is detailed and BBB encourages all who use Internet and wireless services to be comprehensive, and is targeted at the illegitimate use of cautious with emails and text messages. Trusted businesses and electronic communications to obtain consumer information government agencies all recommend the following: or stimulate consumer responses without actually holding • Don’t click links in an email or a text from an unknown sender. the consumer’s permission to send such messages. • Look at the email address — is it coming from .org or .gov? While The three government agencies responsible for email addresses can be spoofed, an email from the BBB will come from enforcement of the law include the Canadian Radio“@sask.bbb.org,” just like the BBB website. Email messages from a television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) government agency will probably come from “@gov.sk.ca” or “@cra. to issue administrative monetary penalties for violations of gc.ca like the government websites, or “@rcmp-grc.gc.ca” in the case the new anti-spam law, the Competition Bureau to seek of the RCMP. No trusted organization will request personal information administrative monetary penalties or criminal sanctions with messages sent by email or text. under the Competition Act, and The Office of the Privacy • Google search the phone number associated with a text from an Commissioner to exercise new powers under an amended unknown sender. Phone numbers are essential in spoofing and are Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents easily manipulated with computer software. Act. It also permits all three agencies to share information • Look up contact information for the organization without using with the government of a foreign state if the information anything listed in the email. Call, fax, write or email the organization to is relevant to an investigation or proceeding in respect see if you really have been asked to provide more information about of a contravention of the laws of a foreign state that is you or your business. This will also alert the organization to the scam, substantially similar to the conduct prohibited by this particularly if they have not been trying to contact you. Canadian law. The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre has an array of information, links and The Better Business Bureau (BBB) wants to tools intended for the consuming public and the business community encourage the business and professional community that can help you be more secure online. It is available at www. in Saskatchewan to familiarize themselves and their antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca. employees with the implications of the Act by visiting the If in doubt, call the BBB toll free at 888-352-7601 or send an email to above site, which contains significant information including firstname.lastname@example.org. a section on frequently asked questions. Many businesses Pat Heffernan is the Chief may engage in commercial electronic messaging activity Executive Officer of the without consciously realizing they do it. Accordingly, Better Business Bureau every business and professional organization should be of Saskatchewan, a notfamiliar with the legislation and the supporting regulations for-profit organization to ensure they are compliant. BBB also encourages all dedicated to upholding consumers to educate themselves with respect to the communications between details contained in the Act, as this law does provide a business and the consumer. measure of protection not previously available. Matt Powers/Leader-Post
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