The ins and outs of renovation warranties

When you hire a contractor to renovate or improve your home, there are many details that need to be spelled out in your work order or contract. These include a thorough description of the work to be done, the work schedule to be followed, and what amounts you will pay the contractor and when.

You need these details written down and signed by both you and your contractor so every aspect of the project is clear. Without a written contract, you're simply rolling the dice in terms of what you'll end up with.

Another important aspect of your contract involves the warranty provided. Professional contractors provide a clearly defined warranty on materials and workmanship, and set this out as part of the contract. Make sure this is included in writing — verbal assurances that a contractor will come back and fix anything that goes wrong are very difficult to enforce after the job is finished, and any contractor who won't provide these details in the contract is suspect.

The contractor's warranty should also cover the quality of the installation or construction work they are doing, specifying what is covered and for how long. For instance, if you find trim coming loose during the warranty period, your contractor should repair this promptly and in accordance with their warranty commitment.

In addition, the products used by the contractor in carrying out your project will come with their own warranties backed by the manufacturers of these products. Typically, products will be warrantied to be free from defects for a specified length of time if they were installed in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions.

When your project is complete, your contractor should provide you with the manufacturers' warranty documents on products and materials used in your project. For example, if you are getting a new kitchen, the contractor's warranty will cover the workmanship involved in the actual construction work involved. There will also be separate manufacturers' warranties on the products used, like kitchen cabinets, plumbing fixtures and flooring. Each product warranty will lay out what is covered and for how long, and how the warranty service process works. Keep all warranty documents in a secure place in case they are needed in the future.

The warranty provisions in your contract should also state how you can access warranty service from your contractor for the coverage they provide, including contact details for any needed follow-up service.

Find more information on the Canadian Home Builder's Association's website at /