Checklist for Contractors

I think everyone in the Construction Industry is aware the labour shortages are a significant barrier to the larger developments. But you just want to have your roof redone, how does it affect you?  Labour shortages effect everyone, including the smaller single family home projects. 

The Ontario Construction Secretariat Contractor Survey 2019 noted that 62% of the Contractors surveyed experienced labour shortages in the last three years.  Contractors were then asked how they dealt with the labour shortages.  Here is what they said,

Labour Shortage Contractor Impact

Notice that 76% turned down work and 70% used less qualified labour.  What this means to the average client is that skilled labour becomes more expensive and hard to find.   When there is so much work around, like there is right now, Contractors have to pick and choose which jobs they take.  Contractors know that they cannot take on too much work and sustain it long term. 

However, as small business owners, they are also quite aware that many factors can affect their businesses.  Take change of governments as an example.  The Green Ontario Program created a way for home owners to really take a chunk out of their energy bill and lowering their green house gas emissions significantly with rebates for the items installed in the homes.  One of the more significant items were window installation with a rebate up to $ 5000.00.  People who were not able to afford the upgraded windows were now able to have a windows that reduced their carbon foot print significantly.  

This also created a demand for window manufacturers, suppliers and installers. So there was a significant swell in the market.  Even if you were looking for lesser quality, cheaper windows, it was difficult to get pricing or schedule quoted.  And if you had a more complicated parts to your particular job, like site restrictions, weather constricted projects, it increased the difficulty even more.   

And then poof, the work that was planned for the next 12 months changed significantly.  Suppliers, installers and clients were all faced with tough decisions about what they could afford and what they couldn’t afford.  So the bubble that had been forming for the last couple of years burst.  And every small business owner knows that when your business goes down it can stay down for a while, so every opportunity should be looked at.    

If you have been looking for a contractor lately, you may have heard a message over and over again.  “We are really busy, We are scheduling into next year, We will have to get back to you.” There are many contractors that are just at their maximum threshold.  A small business with just a few staff members cannot take the strain so they have to choose which work is best for their resources. 

Another issue that you will have to deal with as a client in the saturated market is the rising up of contractors that are unskilled posing as skilled labour.  Maybe they did some roofing work with a friend in a pinch a while back and sees the potential of the work that needs someone to do.  It does happen that people choose trades out of necessity and can start right away with little more than a business card and a verbal reference from a neighbour.  On the job training is a way to gain skills and experience.  And sometimes it works out well.  Sometimes it ends up with an insurance claim.  Trying to find some happy endings may be tricky.

I think most Contractors really want to do a good job and make a living.  But there is no shortage of people that don’t care and bully people around to make a buck. 

Many a newscasts continually run stories about home renovation scams, Marketplaces “Hitting the Roof” from 2010, Global News “Door to Door Roofing Scam” ran this past summer and more recently CP 24 “Fake Home Repairs“.

The most difficult Contractor to figure out is the person who has no intention of doing the work at all.   They are not easy to spot until after the damage is already done and you are looking at an empty wallet and a job not done.  

What if getting three prices seems impossible and no contractors want to give you a price or can schedule your work.  What other choice do you have?  Well in some cases you don’t have a choice.  As a client you become more vulnerable.   Sometimes, a salesperson is really good at sales.  And you know the deposit is larger than you really should put down but you haven’t had any real luck with anyone else.  So you place your deposit. 

If you find yourself in a situation where you have paid a deposit and the services have not been supplied.  There are a few options.  You can contact Consumer Protection Ontario.  Dispute Resolution is the aim.  If you are dealing with reasonable people who ended up in a bad situation, then there is a chance if both parties are willing to come to a resolution. They have a Consumer Beware list where you can see a list of companies that have had issues in the past and have been complaints made against them.

If that doesn’t work you can make claim against the Contractor in small claims court.  You can reach out to Pro Bono Ontario who can determine if you qualify for free legal services.   Ultimately if you do receive a judgment in your favour, there is still the obstacle of collecting what is owed to you. 

If someone doesn’t want to pay you back what they owed you, there is something you can do.  If you have a judgement in your favour you can enforce the Judgement.  This can be a lengthy and trying process. 

It is all hindered again if the company that you paid the deposit to is a corporation and that corporation decides to go bankrupt, the debt that is owed to you ends up on a long list of debt holders for that company.  If you are one of many and the corporation doesn’t have any assets to sell off or money in the bank, you still only have a piece of paper that says your right.  Still no refund. 

It is difficult to tell how the company that you are dealing is planning to file bankruptcy.  This is legislation that is meant to help well-meaning people resolve their debt, but it gets used by people who manipulate systems to ensure they can take money and not produce services.

In the case of Click Lock Roofing, deposits were taken from home owners and work was not completed. However when you look further into Clicklock roofing, you find that it only sells the contracts and then buys the material and labour from another company Armadillo Building Products. ClickLock is incorporated and therefore is an entity on its own, separate from Bill Ilkov, who is a director.  And interestingly enough is also the director of Armadillo Building products, which happens to have the same address as Clicklock Roofing.   Federal Corporation Information – Armadillo Building Products

Turns out the whole building, unmarked by any of these companies’ names, is owned by a Numbered company, and guess who is listed as a director?  So the scam is to paper neighbourhoods with flyers advertising new steel roofs under different company names, like Home Shield Roofing.  Follow up with Sales people that take deposits that are higher than usual and then don’t deliver or have roof installed.  Keep the money and then file bankruptcy.   Seems simple enough, sure if you are Bill Ilkov. 

One thing to note is the Home Shield Roofing is using the same images you see on Armadillo Building Products and the same images were used on Click Lock Roofing website, which is no longer in use.  If the promotional material looks familiar or is too generic, be cautious.  

The best thing to do is to avoid this type of company in the first place.  In this marketplace it is difficult.  The labour shortage, combined with significant weather events which ripped off many roofs, and the environment aspect of having a steel roof combines to create a perfect atmosphere for people to be taken advantage of.   People can find opportunity in every moment.

Always get three prices.  You can give the potential contractors information over via email.  You can send photos of your roof, front side and back with rough dimensions of you home and a nearby intersection with the email.  And that should be enough information to give a Contractor opportunity to give you a budget without coming to your house.  Understanding they may have to do a site visit to formalize the quote, however you will have time to check out the business and references before they arrive. 

If you have to call many contractors to get three prices, then spend the time to do that. If you feel pressured or uncomfortable with sales tatics, say so.

Review the use of a credit card for deposits.  Some cards have fraud protection clauses in place so that if you do not receive the services that you had agreed upon with a contractor the credit card company will reimburse your deposit.  

Check references and not just referral websites.  Click Lock is listed on Glass Door which has some interesting comments from past employees being forced to write false reviews.  Other review sites like Better Business Bureau  and Ontario Consumer Protection Beware list.

Keep your deposits under 20% for the completion of the work.  Try to limit what you are potentially losing if the company happens to claim bankruptcy.  In the current market it can be difficult to get competitive pricing or a schedule that fits your needs, however it is also more imperative that you hire contractors that you can trust.  More planning creates a better project.   Sometimes you can stumble on telling information with a simple google search.

Everyone gets ripped off at one time or another.  We all make financial choices that seem good at the time and turn out badly.  Unfortunately we cannot stop people from living without honesty.  We can only try to make better choices in the future.  In the case of the long list of people Bill Ilkov owes money to, there will not likely be any reimbursement or resolution.  But all will have a choice about how they move forward from this situation. 

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