By Jenn Danko
When it comes to offering clients a renovator’s warranty, Peter Simpson takes a firm stance.
"Anybody who is not willing to offer a warranty for the work is not professional, and should not be dealt with," says Simpson, president and chief executive officer of the Greater Vancouver Home Builders’ Association (GVHBA). "Why would a homeowner pay someone money to rip apart their bathroom, say it looks good, and then it’s not guaranteed?"
The truth is that some renovators — particularly those dealing with clients on a "cash only" basis — often fail to offer their clients a warranty that both guarantees the work and complies with a new harmonized sales tax system that combines provincial and federal taxes. What Simpson calls "fly-by-night" contractors are trying to find ways to beat the system — and not offering clients a renovator’s warranty is one way to try. The absence of a paper trail relieves them of both ethical and financial obligations — and ultimately tarnishes the image of the profession in the long run.
To help better protect and regulate professional renovators, GVHBA launched what it calls its RenoMark™ program, which regulates the practices of contractors and business owners associated with it. Developed in 2005 and then adopted nationally in 2008, RenoMark™ ensures that its program participants maintain a high code of conduct — including offering warranties that extend for two years instead of one on major work.
John Friswell, president and owner of CCI Renovations in North Vancouver and chairman of the Canadian Renovator’s Council has been involved in the program since day one. He says the two-year, standard warranty has helped differentiate him from other renovators and homebuilders in that it helps set the standards higher for the clients he services.
"If anyone is a legitimate professional, he or she won’t have a problem taking part in the program, or extending a warranty that lasts for two years, for that matter," Friswell says.
Recently, Friswell experienced the warranty’s importance to a client firsthand after several door hinges on a kitchen remodeling job became loose within two years of completing the job.
"We went right in and took care of business," Friswell says, who notes that standing behind your work in the form of a written contract helps build and strengthen better client relationships.
Simpson says that a warranty is not only a symbol of building trust between the renovator and the homeowner, but it should also spell out the terms of service being provided. Are labor and materials included in the final costs? Additionally, the length of the warranty should be clearly displayed; if the business owner is tied to the RenoMark™ program, the warranty will have a minimum life of two years.
"A warranty shows that you are willing to stand by your work. It builds a level of trust between contractor and the homeowner," Simpson explains. "For the renovator, it’s only going to increase the likelihood of him or her doing a good job and gaining business."
Above all, a good contractor — such as one associated with the RenoMark™ program — cannot afford to have his or her name represented in a negative a way. By adhering to general code and a renovation-specific code of conduct — which includes issuing a property warranty — a contractor can grow his or her business exponentially.
"The bottom line is that every warranty should clearly list the terms of work," Simpson says. "The contract is paramount for building better business."