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About trades, and you

Have you heard about the worker who took a deposit but never returned to actually complete the work? How about the hairstylist who dyed more skin than hair? Or the case of the handyperson who claimed he or she could do everything – plumbing, heating, air conditioning and more – but didn’t hold a single trade license?

We’ve all heard the horror stories about tradespeople who “oversell” their expertise, falsify credentials or simply ignore regulations. Not only does this damage the reputation of other trades professionals, these individuals are potentially putting you and your family at risk. There are over 150 registered trades in Ontario.  Whether we are inviting them into our homes and businesses or access their services in shops and salons, consumers should be confident that they are dealing with qualified professionals.

At Fransky Mechanical we routinely get calls from panicked homeowners who have been left in situations that could easily have been avoided. We are a plumbing, heating and air conditioning company, so the calls we get are usually related to incompetence or unfinished work. Beyond the hassle and expense to the property owner, these situations can be unsafe as we deal with water systems and gas lines. While we are always here to help, we don’t enjoy repairing and replacing work that should have been done the right way the first time. From our experience, there are some strategies you can use when hiring a tradesperson that are simple, but effective in protecting you and your money.

  1. Check the public register: Did you know that the Ontario College of Trades has a public register that you can use to confirm the qualifications and licensing status of tradespeople in the province? While not all tradespeople are required to participate, those in “compulsory trades” must hold a valid membership. There are currently 22 compulsory trades in Ontario and many of them are in the construction sector such as electricians and plumbers. Other compulsory trades include hairstylists, cooks, baker-patissiers, child and youth workers and automotive service technicians. Before you sign a contract, check the register to see if the person has the right qualifications. The register shows which trade(s) the person is qualified for and if any complaints have been made against them or their business. Click here to find out more: http://www.collegeoftrades.ca/
  2. Don’t be shy – ask!: It’s the law for members of the compulsory trades to carry their College membership cards with them to prove their qualifications. Much like holding insurance or Workplace Safety and Insurance Board coverage, professionals who are compliant will not be offended if you ask to see their College members’ card. Asking about the College is a great way to start a conversation with a tradesperson about their approach to other topics like health and safety. You can ensure that you get what you want by being specific with the services you expect to be completed and getting it in writing. You can ensure you get who you want by asking about certification.
  3. Be prepared and do your research: There are many ways to get information about a service or product before working with a tradesperson. Check on licensing, regulatory or permit requirements before interviewing a potential tradesperson. Learn a little bit about the scope of the work, get samples or pictures of what you’re looking for (this can help with a haircut or a new kitchen!) and talk to others in your network who have contracted for similar services. You’re making an investment in yourself or your property, so take the time to get it right.