The Cash Deal

Are you are interested in becoming a member?

1. Carefully Plan Your Project

Some renovations and additions, such as converting a bungalow to a two-storey home, will require that you move out during construction. Others projects, such as an addition above an attached garage or a refurbished kitchen, may allow you to live with the building project – but there will be inconvenience and disruption that you’ll have to plan for.

Major projects may require the services of an architect and other professionals such as engineers and heating contractors. Their drawings are not only required to obtain building permits and other municipal approvals, but they provide the basis for your renovation contractor to price the project.

Be realistic about the time a project will take to get started and to complete; its full costs, including at least a 10 per cent contingency for changes and unexpected conditions; and the impact the project will have on the daily operation of your home and family activities.

If your project is likely to last more than a few weeks, it’s wise to discuss your project with neighbours. In addition to unavoidable noise and dirt, there will be vehicles parked on the street, disposal bins in the driveway, and plenty of truck deliveries. Most neighbours will be understanding and accommodating, especially if notified first.

Include a requirement for daily clean-up in your contract, so that your home, your street and nearby lawns don’t end up resembling a construction site.

The Underground Economy and the Cash Deal

We don't like it and neither should you! Be educated on how to protect yourself from the risks of a cash deal.

If a construction contractor offers to take cash and not charge you the 13% HST, you're going to be tempted. Who wouldn't be? But did you know that it makes you liable if a worker is injured? Or that you will have no recourse if they do a shoddy job?  Professional renovators provide detailed written contracts, warranties AND insurance coverage so you can't be sued if there is an accident.  Be protected and do it right the first time!

There is too much risk to take on, to avoid paying tax. Being frugal is admirable but just think about it. You're talking potentially huge investments of money depending on the size of the project, and once you include the potential of a lawsuit, it doesn't make sense to put your family in such a risky position.

Yet, it still happens.

Here in lies the problem - You can't have a written contract with a cash deal. It's the contract that specifies the work to be done, completion date, responsibilities of the homeowner and contractor and proof of insurance. Without this valuable document, it’s you who is liable and could be sued, should a worker be injured in your home. It is also the only proof of the contractor's involvement, should the workmanship not be of suitable quality. That contractor could trash your home, and you would have no recourse. Sadly, its true.

Neither do you get a building permit or city inspections. Even years later, when you try to sell your home or have new work done, the cash deal can backfire with an order from a city inspector to rip down walls to prove a past renovation or addition was done safely.

There have also been instances where a homeowner, who decided to oversee the construction of their new home in Richmond Hill, was fined $20,000 for a violation of the Occupational Health and Safety Act that resulted in the death of a worker in their home.

Whether from lack of awareness or diligence, the resulting tragedy will affect many lives for years to come. The $20,000 fine was likely a hardship for the homeowner, but think of the emotional trauma of being responsible for such an accident.

A similar situation occurred the year before of another homeowner, when a trim carpenter, hired to install door and window trim, fell about 3.2 metres through a stairwell opening on the first floor to the basement below. The worker was taken to hospital, but died the next day. A Ministry of Labour investigation found there were no guardrails at the sides of the stairwell opening.

The homeowner pleaded guilty, as a constructor, to failing to ensure a required guardrail system was in place, and in addition to the fine for contravening the act, the court also imposed a 25 per cent victim fine surcharge, as required by the Provincial Offences Act. Again, many lives were irreversibly changed and the homeowner was left to bear the heartache of responsibility.

These might be unusual examples, but many homeowners unknowingly have agreed to do business on a handshake and a promise.

We don't like our neighbours and friends not being protected or not getting their expectations met and we dislike our industry being tarnished by the conduct of underground contractors.

Protect yourself and say, "No" to the cash deal.

We support asking the federal and provincial governments to step up on behalf of homeowners to create a permanent tax rebate for home renovations as an incentive to use legitimate contractors as receipts have to be provided to qualify. This paper trail would disqualify the cash-only operators, support legitimate professional renovators and protect you, the homeowner.

(the above was aired in London by the London Home Builders Association)

Exploring Your Options

Now you are ready to see what's available. As you drive around visiting builders' model homes, sales centres and offices, it's a good idea to take notes. That way, it is much easier to make clear comparisons later. The key to successful home hunting is to take your time. Don't rush. Take a thorough look at everything and ask questions-lots of them. The builder or salesperson should be ready and pleased to answer each question. Sales centres will often have a complete information package on the homes, the development and the community, including schools and other facilities. Keep in mind that a builder's model home is usually just one of several designs offered by the company - a starting point.

The Community / Development

  • Does the community meet your needs (as determined in your planning)?
  • Does the development have a good "feel"?
  • Can you see yourself living here? (Ask about landscaping plans and common facilities, if any. Visit a builder's finished development for a better impression.)
  • What are the long-term plans for the community-e.g. growth, roads, facilities, commercial/industrial expansion?
  • Are there any community or development covenants and bylaws that restrict how you can live in your home (e.g. no pets, no outdoor clotheslines)?

Model Homes and Plans

  • Take a close look at the quality of each model home - is construction solid, the finishing well done with attention to details?
  • Compare layouts and size (more square feet does not always mean more living space).
  • Find out if the features in each model home are standard or upgrades (i.e. extra cost) and ask to see samples of the builder's standard finishing products.
  • Note the features of each home that appeal to you (worth considering when you have made a final decision on a model and have some leeway for details).
  • Imagine your family's daily routine throughout the seasons. Note if the builder is using brand-name products you know and trust.
  • Ask about each builder's design flexibility (e.g. moving walls, enlarging windows). Ask abut optional or upgrade "packages" (e.g. lighting and plumbing fixtures).
  • Look at the company's other designs and plans.
  • Visit model homes outside your price range for ideas for layout and features (but stay focused on the price range that's most comfortable for you).
  • Ask about lot availability for the home model you are interested in - there may be restrictions.
Sarnia Lambton Home Builders Association © 2021