In New Brunswick Anyone Can Be A Home Improvement Contractor, And That’s A Problem, Builders Say
Homeowners across New Brunswick are an easy target for unscrupulous home improvement contractors as the province does not have legislation to discourage fraudsters from working in the industry, according to the Provincial Builders Association. dwellings.
Anyone can become a homebuilding contractor without any formal licensing or training requirements, says Claudia Simmonds, CEO of the Canadian Home Builders Association of New Brunswick.
“In the province of New Brunswick, there are absolutely no requirements for people who build or renovate homes,” said Simmonds, whose group lobbied for change.
In New Brunswick, there have long been stories of contractors demanding large deposits for repairs such as roofing and then disappearing without doing the job, she said.
But the stories became more common during the pandemic, with so many people trying to renovate their homes.
RCMP are investigating at least 25 complaints about a home improvement contractor in the Charlotte County area, with more than $ 350,000 in losses reported to date.
Another RCMP investigation was also opened on a roofing contractor in the Quispamsis area.
For the most part, landowners are on their own to resolve disputes with contractors, with small claims courts or civil litigation often the only tools available to them, Simmonds said.
Homeowners can turn to the police, but unless there is a pattern of scams affecting a large number of victims, the police generally consider these cases to be civil cases, she said.
“A lot of homeowners just have to suck, and that’s not fair,” Simmonds said. “It is not fair that anyone can walk into this industry and go to work without any skills, training, knowledge or credibility whatsoever and endanger the livelihoods of the owners.
“The industry is full of these types of practitioners.”
Quispamsis owner lost $ 250,000
David Harris of Quispamsis said he spoke to the town of Quispamsis and politicians about the lack of regulation after losing more than $ 250,000 to a contractor he hired to demolish his house after the fire and build a new one.
“Everyone I have spoken to and all elected officials have been very supportive,” said Harris, who also plans to write to Prime Minister Blaine Higgs.
“Something has to change.”
After his house burned down on March 2, Harris hired a contractor he knew to organize the demolition and construction of a new house. The money Harris lost included $ 200,000 which he paid as a down payment on the house.
Some of that demolition work was completed in late August, but no other work has been done since then, according to the statement Harris filed in a lawsuit against the contractor.
“There were constant delays,” he said. “It just never happened.”
Harris decided to terminate the contract in October after the contractor refused to provide receipts showing the materials he claimed to have purchased for the house.
The contractor has not filed a defense and none of Harris’ claims have been tested in court
British Columbia has Homeowner Protection Act
The Home Builders Association has called on the New Brunswick government to introduce a registry of contractors and compulsory licenses to ensure that contractors are held to higher standards.
“The province denies our efforts and lobbying to put in place a contractor registry that would ensure that the people who build homes for the people of this province are legitimate builders who have training, knowledge and experience,” Simmonds said.
Many contractors do not have liability insurance, provide warranties, and are not trained in WorkSafeNB’s safety requirements.
She mentioned British Columbia, which has homeowner protection legislation. Under British Columbia law, contractors must be licensed to work in the industry and can be fined up to $ 25,000 if caught working in the industry. residential construction without a permit.
Licenses are reviewed annually and to obtain one, contractors must provide proof of two years of experience in residential construction management or supervision within the past five years.
“The Government of New Brunswick needs to put in place a contractor registry and ombudsman, or an opportunity for consumers to bring complaints against unscrupulous contractors or builders who scam them,” she said.
The province says little
Asked for comment, a government spokesperson did not respond to the call for homebuilders to regulate, but instead confirmed what the group said.
“There is no provincial regulatory or oversight body for builders and renovators in New Brunswick,” said Erika Jutras, spokesperson for the Department of Finance and Treasury Board.
The Financial and Consumer Services Commission recommends New Brunswick homeowners get everything in writing, hire contractors who offer guarantees, and seek out solid references from past clients.
Homeowners should also be skeptical of down payment requests, said Ron Hutton, executive director of the New Brunswick Roofing Contractors Association.
“You shouldn’t be paying until the job is done,” Hutton said in a previous interview. “If a contractor needs money up front to pay for materials, that means their cash flow is very low, and that would be another red flag.
“If they are looking for money to buy equipment, I would say to them: ‘I will buy the equipment, you tell me the quantity and I will have it delivered to my house.’ That way you have the material at your fingertips and you have paid for it. ‘”
Simmonds said homeowners can also look to contractors who are accredited members of trade associations such as the Home Builders’ Group and Roofing Association or who are accredited by the Better Business Bureau.