Knowing the terms of payment

Some contractors might request a down payment before starting the work. Here are tips on how to make your payments.

Making payments to a general contractor

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 an itinerant merchant

What if you concluded an agreement with an itinerant merchant? A contractor is considered an itinerant merchant if they solicit your business outside of their actual offices, for example, if they come to your home to sell their products or services.

What if you asked a renovation contractor to come and meet you at your home? The Consumer Protection Act considers a contractor as an itinerant merchant when :

  • they sell or install doors, windows, rooftops, thermal insulation, or exterior cladding;
  • they execute work linked to the sale or installation of such elements.

This type of contractor generally cannot request or accept a down payment within the 10 days that follow the day you receive the signed copy of your contract. They may do so under one condition only: if they have delivered goods you purchased, such as materials. This rule applies because, over those 10 days, you have the right to cancel your contract. You should therefore refuse to allow the work to begin before the end of that 10-day period to avoid any conflict.

If goods were delivered to you, the contractor may ask for payment, but they are required to deposit that money in a trust account until the end of the 10-day delay.

Some merchants are exempt from this requirement, provided for in article 255 of the Consumer Protection Act. Refer to our tool Getting informed about a merchant to know whether the contractor you hire benefits from such an exemption.

Paying renovation work in installments

Whether you hired a general contractor or an itinerant merchant, you should reach an agreement with them to pay for the work in installments, following the progress of the renovation project. You could, for example, retain one 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 merchant 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 merchant is allowed to request or accept a payment before the work starts under only one condition: if you pay by credit card.

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Last update : November 24, 2017

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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.