Before hiring a real estate lawyer or a building contractor, you must satisfy yourself as to his credentials and track record. This is an easy enough task when it comes to hiring a lawyer. One can contact The Law Society or their friends. Since lawyers are regulated, the Law Society has a discipline department which can advise you of the status of your lawyer. On the other hand, when it comes to a building contractor, there is no regulatory body and you are truly on your own. The most important thing when hiring a contractor is the recommendations of your friends … people who have dealt with building contractors before. Even after having obtained a friend’s recommendation, you must visit several jobs which the contractor has performed and talk to the homeowners. It’s been my experience that if your contractor advises you that he can’t approach his past customers on your behalf, then I wouldn’t deal with him. He’s hiding something. If the contractor is competent, and has done a good job, then previous clients would be happy to sing his praises.
In the last year, I have personally dealt with 2 contractors, both of whom were no more than big “talkers”, but once the job started, it was easy to tell that their expertise laid in their ability to talk, not build. I understand that it takes time for you to do this research, but you don’t want to find yourself part way into a $50,000, or $100,000, or $200,000 renovation only to discover that your contractor is incompetent, a liar and, there is no other way to put it, a common thief. Credible, competent and successful contractors do not need deposits. If a contractor has been in business for a while and has been successful, then he should have cash flow and the ability to carry your project at the beginning. It has been my experience when contractors ask for money upfront that they are using this money to fund the construction of their current jobs, not yours.
So ensure you do your homework and find the right contractor, it could end up saving you several thousands of dollars and less headaches in the end. And of course contacting a real estate lawyer such as myself can always help point you in the right direction.