Proper Paperwork: WSIB, Insurance and Permits
Posted on January 12th, 2015

It didn’t take me long to get burned by the “underground market” of construction workers.  This is the group of renovators, builders, and ‘work for cash’ tax evasion specialists who make it so difficult for reputable, honest contractors to earn a living.
When a homeowner asks a contractor to perform work for cash, it is nothing short of an invitation to participate in evasion of tax, WSIB, and building permit applications.  As inflated as these costs are for Ontarians, all of these systems are in place to protect contractors, their employees, but most of all the homeowner.  At Holland Valley, our company is built on a foundation of fairness, reliability and professionalism.  
Holland Valley Construction has been built on a foundation of fairness, reliability and professionalism.  This means following the law to ensure the safety and satisfaction of our company, our employees, and our customers.  In order to be treated properly by your contractor, here are a few things to keep in mind when you are paying someone to work in your home. 

1:  Ask for WSIB clearance certificates
According to Mac Vanderhout insurance Brokers from Toronto, Ontario, if a contractor does not have WSIB, the homeowner can be sued by the contractor or their workers if there is an injury.  The easiest way to prevent being at risk?  Don’t pay cash for underground economy contractors.  
A WSIB clearance certificate can be printed by the contracting company, or requested and mailed from WSIB.   It’s no secret that WSIB rates are ridiculous, ranging from 9.1% for a renovator or home builder, to 14.8% for roofers.  Unfortunately these rates are much higher in Ontario than in Western or Eastern Canada (up to 50% less), however they do protect the homeowner from possible lawsuits, and protect the workers in case of injury.  
Often, if a homeowner hires a contractor without WSIB, they can be found legally responsible for any injuries under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, as the homeowner is acting as the general contractor.  In one instance, a Richmond Hill homeowner was fined $20,000 after a worker fell from 10.5 ft and died.  
There are certain exceptions to WSIB coverage.  However even in situations where these exceptions take place, the homeowner is still at risk.  For example, If a carpenter is working alone and only working directly for homeowners, they are not required by law to enrol in WSIB coverage.  However, if that carpenter has a helper (even a friend or family member), they must have WSIB coverage.  Again, even if the worker is not required to have WSIB, it leaves you open to legal action if they are injured on the job.  
Click here for a sample of a WSIB clearance certificate.

2:  Request a copy of liability insurance
Imagine hiring a contractor to build your dream bathroom - a custom walk in shower, granite countertops, and a heated floor to keep your feet warm in the morning.  After a long day of work, the contractor turns the water back on and heads home for the evening.  In the middle of the night, you wake up to a flooded living room, water ruining everything from floor to ceiling.  
When the water shut off and the leak repaired, what’s next?  Who is responsible for repairing the entire section of your home, covering all labour and materials?  If you pay cash for the job and your contractor doesn’t have insurance, it could be you.
Typically, a contractor will carry $500,000 in Tenant’s Legal Liability insurance, and be covered in case there is damage to your automobile or other parts of your home due to their negligence.   This will protect you during your home renovation project, and it is as simple as asking your contractor for a proof of insurance. 

3:  Ensure permits are acquired for the work being done
Permits are yet another step of protection for homeowners, ensuring the proper inspectors are called to review the work as it progresses.  Permits range from a general building permit to trade-specific inspections such as electrical, both which would be required for something as simple as a bathroom renovation. 
With a building permit, an inspector will visit the job site for random visits or scheduled appointments.  They will take a look at different aspects of the renovation, including framing, plumbing and insulation, approving the work is being completed properly and according to the building code.  Building permits range based on the proposed project, but acts as a second set of eyes to ensure safety.

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