Have the fridge repaired. Put in a flowerbed. Reshingle the roof. Patch those cracks in the foundation. Get rid of that carpenter ant colony. The list of jobs around the house that you want to (or should) take care of is long…

The problem is that finding the gem to handle the job is sometimes as complicated as doing the work itself! Clearly, CAA-Quebec’s network of Approved Residential Suppliers is your ticket to peace of mind. But if it should happen that the professional you need is unavailable for a certain job, where should you turn for references? What minimum guarantees should you demand before entrusting your job to someone? Here are a few tips.

1. Rely on tips from people you know

If possible, begin by asking for a recommendation from a family member, neighbour or co-worker who’s dealt with a professional for the same type of work. This is the best starting point for finding a contractor who can be trusted. Better still, the person you know can answer your questions about the quality of the service they received, and you’ll benefit from their experience. You can even ask to see the results of the work.

2. Adapt your search to the type of work to be done

How you proceed depends on the nature of the job(s):
For smaller jobs (like lawn maintenance, for example) or urgent jobs (minor plumbing repairs, replacing a damaged window…), look for someone local:

  • If no one among your family, friends or neighbours can recommend anybody, look in your neighbourhood phone listings for potential candidates.
  • Ask around at a local construction-materials supplier, hardware store or specialized retailer.

For mid-size to large-scale jobs, it’s best to cast a wider net: 

  • Get written, detailed estimates from three different contractors so that you can compare them and make an informed choice.
  •  If need be, ask for references from the professional order that regulates the trade in question. Quebec has 45 such orders with a total membership of more than 370,000, covering professions such as consulting engineers, architects, professional technologists, surveyors, certified appraisers, etc. The primary mission of each order is to protect the public.

Other information resources that you can consult:

  • Corporations, e.g., the Corporation des maîtres mécaniciens en tuyauterie du Québec (plumbers) and Corporation des maîtres électriciens du Québec (electricians).
  • Associations, such as the Association québécoise de gestion parasitaire (exterminators), Association des professionnels du chauffage (heating professionals, for chimney inspection and sweeping), Association des entrepreneurs en maçonnerie du Québec (masons) and Association des maîtres couvreurs du Québec (roofers).
  • Certain product and materials manufacturers, specifically those that have networks of recommended installers and repair technicians.

3. Know how to recognize a quality contractor or professional

Look for the following, among other qualities:

Punctuality – Reliable, competent businesspeople arrive at the agreed-upon time—or notify you if they can’t keep the appointment for some unforeseen reason.
Credibility – Serious resources will provide you with their full contact information right away. Often this will be a business card, with the name of the company, phone number(s), mail and e-mail addresses and, if applicable, the Régie du bâtiment du Québec (RBQ) registration number. A card with only a phone number, though, generally isn’t enough to inspire confidence.
A credible contractor or professional should also, without hesitation, provide references; i.e., names and numbers of people for whom he or she has done similar work.
Honesty – The person you contact should tell you right away whether any fee will be charged for doing an estimate or for the travel costs involved.

Competency and certification – Good candidates must have the required documentation proving that they are certified for construction or repair work:

  • An RBQ licence: the licence number should appear in the company’s advertising, on business cards and even on its vehicles. Make sure the licence is still valid: to do so, you can search in the registry of RBQ licence holders.
  • An “itinerant merchant” (door-to-door sales) permit from the Consumer Protection Office, in the case of a contractor who visits your home to sell or install doors, windows or exterior cladding, or to do roofing or insulation work.

All that’s left is to wish you the best of luck in your searches!