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Paving the way to peace of mind: Tips you should know before hiring a contractor

Tammie Corrigan's driveway in Puslinch, Ont. on July 3, 2022. (Tyler Kelaher/CTV Kitchener) Tammie Corrigan's driveway in Puslinch, Ont. on July 3, 2022. (Tyler Kelaher/CTV Kitchener)
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A number of homeowners in Waterloo region have come forward recently saying they’re unsatisfied with the work driveway pavers have done on their property.

Those who have reached out to CTV News say they have been approached by a company that says they are in the area, noticed their driveway needed work, and can cheaply and quickly finish the job.

Some say they have paid upwards of $5,000 for shoddy work.

After being approached for work and saying no, one resident came home to her driveway being paved – and workers asking for over $7,000 for the job.

Graeme O’Brien of O’Brien Paving previously told CTV News it is not typical for a company to come knocking on doors, offering a service because they are already working in the area.

“Most companies are booked up for the year, so if someone says they can do your driveway the next day, or in a week, you probably don’t want them doing it,” said O’Brien.

Angela Dennis, president of Better Business Bureau said homeowners should be wary of unsolicited contractors approaching them offering to do work.

“What we’re seeing… on there in some cases is that unsolicited companies [say] they happen to be in the area, they notice that their driveway or sidewalk need some repair, and they’re going to give them a deal, a discount because they are in the area,” said Dennis. “They ask for large sums of money upfront, and sometimes after the fact, when it’s all paid, it’s shoddy work, consumers can’t get in touch with them after the fact, or they’re not getting the work done at all. They take some money and never return.”

When it comes to payment, Dennis said to avoid paying in cash or through e-transfers. The better option is to pay using credit card because the user has the option to report the payments as fraudulent.

“The unfortunate part is a lot of times the consumers pay cash, or in a form of e-transfer, so that money can’t be recouped,” said Dennis.

Better Business Bureau has the following tips on avoiding contractors whose services may leave you unsatisfied.

  • Be wary of unsolicited offers. Most scams involving contractors begin when a random contractor makes an effort to go out of their way to offer an estimate that was never requested.
  • Research companies and contractors before you hire. If the contractor has multiple negative reviews and complaints, don’t hire them. Often, a simple internet search will reveal companies or individuals that have been involved in fraudulent activities or provided unsatisfactory work to previous clients.
  • Get everything in writing. Ask for an estimate in writing before payment is even discussed. Don’t let a contractor start working on a project until a written, signed contract outlining start and complete dates, a detailed description of the work to be provided, material costs, payment arrangements, and warranty information is provided.
  • Stagger payments. Most contractors will require a percentage of the total price up front, but it should never be the full price before the work has begun. Instead, make an agreement to stagger payments, so work can be inspected at various stages of the project.
  • Use safe payment methods. Paying with a credit card provides some peace of mind, since the credit card company will help you if the company is fraudulent. If you use a check, write them out to a company, not an individual. Paying cash or using an electronic wallet app is risky, since there is no way to stop the payment or get cash back if anything goes wrong.

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