One east-end community group is warning residents to be on the lookout for questionable renovation contractors after receiving complaints about shoddy work and incomplete projects.
The Queenswood Heights Community Association (QHCA) executive were alerted to the issue after a neighbourhood resident raised concerns about poorly-done work on the resurfacing of his laneway, explains president Philip Berthiaume, revealing other, previously-made complaints to the Better Business Bureau and Ottawa Police about the same operation.
“Lots of deficiencies” in the project were reported by the resident in question, he continues, with the contractor – who advertises throughout Queenswood Heights and services many area homes – refusing to correct the work after the fact. According to the resident, both he and his neighbour were “enticed” by the low rates quoted for the laneway resurfacing, Berthiaume adds.
While the QHCA is not comfortable revealing the name of the contentious contractor, Berthiaume says they want to ensure residents know how to protect themselves.
“We’re trying to prevent a repeat of what occurred with Tony’s Snowblowing,” he explains, referring to the local snow-clearing company whose owner was charged with almost three dozen fraud-related offences earlier this year. “A lot of people could have been saved a hassle if they remembered that checking out references is an important thing to do … all references should be asked for and checked. We cannot stress it enough.”
Renovation frauds are fairly common, confirms Const. Leslie Maley, Cumberland community police officer, especially amongst the targeted group of seniors – many of whom call Queenswood Heights home.
The Orléans-Cumberland CPC has received numerous complaints over the years about contractors and companies offering “really great rates” – often with an upfront deposit – and never showing up to complete the project or “doing the work half-heartedly,” she says.
With any renovations, “if the price is too good to be true, it probably is,” Maley adds.
Beyond checking references, she encourages residents to look at homes where work has already been completed, pay for finished work only and shut down the agreement if the contractor uses pressure tactics or questionable business methods.
Calling the Better Business Bureau is also a smart move, Maley says, as well as ensuring the business has a listed number or location. Obtaining a “clear, concise contract” is another way to decrease chances of fraud, she continues, adding that such contracts with a value of $50 or more can be cancelled within 10 days in the province of Ontario, though proof the contractor received a termination letter is often necessary.
“The homework needs to be done at the very beginning, not at the end,” Maley says. “Being prudent at the beginning … can save people a lot of heartache.”