Do you have an electrical or plumbing problem? The following tips may be of interest to you before you hire an electrician or plumber.
Here are tips to help you choose the electrician or plumber that will do the work you need. By choosing carefully, you increase your chances to be satisfied with the work done, and avoid potential problems.
Choose a well-established merchant
Ask for recommendations from family and friends to get the names of reliable electricians or plumbers. You can also browse lists of businesses that are displayed on professional associations or corporations web sites, or look through the phone book.
Do not trust electricians or plumbers that do not provide their full contact information, or give you only a telephone number to reach them. In case of a problem, you could have trouble tracking down that electrician or plumber.
Check if the merchant possesses the required license
Make sure the electrician or plumber you want to work with is licensed by one of the professional corporations recognised by the Régie du bâtiment du Québec. For example, the license could be issued by the Corporation des maîtres électriciens du Québec or the Corporation des maîtres mécaniciens en tuyauterie du Québec.
Such licenses prove that the RBQ verified the contractor's professional qualifications and solvency. In some cases, the license also ensures that the contractor has provided a security deposit. A security deposit is a sum that could be used to compensate you if there is a problem, such as a construction fault.
For more information, refer to the Régie du bâtiment du Québec Web site.
Verify whether the contractor has a liability insurance
If the electrician or plumber is insured, you will be better protected in case any of your property or that of a neighbor is damaged or if a person is injured during the work.
Getting information about an electrician or a plumber
You can get further information about an electrician or a plumber using the tool Getting informed about a merchant. By entering the name of a contractor into the tool, you will know :
- if they are licensed, in the case of an itinerant merchant;
- if the Office has previously intervened with them;
- if it has received formal notices from other consumers.
You should request a written estimate of the costs of the work to be done and the materials to be used from the electrician or plumber you want to hire. The costs can be evaluated many different ways. The most common types of evaluations are the following: a fixed overall price for the entire project, or an hourly rate for a predetermined number of work hours.
Contents of an estimate
For example, the estimate should include the following information :
- a description of the work to be done and the materials to be used;
- the total cost of the work, with detailed items;
- the terms of payment;
- the scheduled start and end of work dates.
An electrician or a plumber could ask for a down payment to be made before the work begins. Here are tips on how to make your payments.
The law does not detail how contracting work should be paid for. If possible, do not provide a down payment to a contractor, or pay only a very small sum. Some consumers have lost money after a company closed its doors, for example.
Paying for the work in installments
If the electric or plumbing work is to be done over several weeks or months, you should reach an agreement with the contractor to pay in installments, following the progress of the work. You could, for example, retain a last payment (representing 10 to 15 % of the total project costs) until the work is completely done. This will ensure the work will be entirely done and finished to your satisfaction.
Making a payment over 2 months before the start of the work
If the electrician or plumber requests a payment to be made over 2 months in advance :
- check whether they have a trust account;
- write down the check payable to “[name of the merchant] in trust.”
A trust account will protect you in case the company goes bankrupt or closes its doors. The amounts deposited in such an account could serve as damages if something happens.
Some merchants are exempt from having to have this type of account. Refer to our tool Getting informed about a merchant to know whether the contractor you hire benefits from such an exemption.
Knowing the rules if a contract is concluded by phone or online
If you concluded a contract by phone or online, the contractor is allowed to request or accept a payment before the work starts under only one condition: if you pay by credit card.
Concluding a detailed agreement with the electrician or plumber you hire is to your benefit. The more details your contract contains, the better informed you will be regarding what to expect.
Contract concluded in person
The Office de la protection du consommateur recommends that you always request a written contract from the contractor you hire. A written contract will make it more likely the results will conform to what you expected. It will also make it easier to assert your rights if the work is not properly done or not completed.
Useful information to be included in the contract
Make sure that everything that was promised by the contractor is included in the contract, along with all important details. The contract should include :
- the contractor’s name and address;
- the license and permit numbers, if they are required;
- the scheduled start and end of work dates;
- a statement in which the contractor commits to abide by the municipal regulations and the National Building Code standards;
- the contractor's liability insurance policy number and the name of the insurance company;
- a detailed description of the work to be done, along with the type and quantity of materials to use (make sure to append the estimate to the contract);
- the total charges and terms of payment.
To ensure the work will be done within the specified time limits, ask for the following note to be added to the contract: "The work will be completed before or on (date); otherwise the contractor will refund the down payment paid by the client."
Also make sure to add a note mentioning the contract total includes the removal of construction debris at the end of the project, especially if you had major renovation work done.
Also make sure to indicate the contractor must obtain your authorisation before doing work that was not included in the contract.
Contract concluded by phone or online
If you plan on choosing an electrician or plumber over the phone or online, know that the law provides that a distance contract must be provided in writing.
Information to obtain before signing a contract
Before concluding a contract, the merchant must provide certain mandatory information. For example :
- their name, address, phone number and, if available, their fax number and email address;
- a detailed description of the services offered;
- the total amount you will need to pay and, if it applies, the amount to be paid on periodic payments;
- the terms of payment;
- the start date of the construction work;
- the duration of the work;
- the cancellation terms;
- any other condition or restriction that applies to the contract.
Transmission of the written contract
The electrician or plumber must provide a written contract within 15 days after you entered into an agreement. This will allow you to verify whether the contract's contents correspond to the offer that was made to you. The contract must be presented in a way that allows you to hold on to it.
Content of the written contract
The contract must include your name and your address, the contract signature date, and all the other mandatory information the merchant must provide before you enter into an agreement.
The Office recommends that you not sign any document before making a final decision to hire an electrician or a plumber. Contrary to popular belief, you do not always have the right to cancel a signed contract if you change your mind within 10 days.
If you concluded a contract by phone or online, specific rules apply. It is possible to cancel a contract without needing to pay any fees, within short elapsed time periods, if the merchant has not respected certain commitments. The page Cancelling a contract concluded by phone or online provides further information on this topic.
Last update : June 16, 2023
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The information contained on this page is presented in simple terms to make it easier to understand. It does not replace the texts of the laws and regulations.