You never know what will happen 

By Francie Healy

Josef B.’s contractor, Bobby Mc., was a nice guy. Everybody said so. He whistled while he worked and he smiled a lot. He had, as they say, a way with the ladies.

He drove a big red truck with a stylized yellow wrench on the door and the words: “Bobby’s your man”. Everyone in the neighbourhood knew the truck. People waved at him as he went by, his radio blaring old rock ‘n’ roll.

Bobby’s work looked pretty good, on the surface. He was fast, clean, and – best of all – cheap. He’d give you a receipt if you asked, but he didn’t “do invoices”. It was just, you know, “trust, man. Between us.” If you wanted to pay him cash (and that’s what he encouraged), he’d reduce his rates significantly.

One day Bobby was gone. No one knew for sure where. It was the day before Josef B. started noticing problems. There was an electrical fire in his “updated” kitchen. There were leaks around the upstairs windows. There was mould showing up in the walls.

He picked up the phone to tell Bobby he’d better get over there and fix everything. But Bobby’s phone was no longer in service. Josef drove to the address on Bobby’s business card. There was no such address.

“But he was such a nice guy!” said Josef’s neighbours.

Josef had paid cash. There was no “paper trail”. He had no recourse but to call a legitimate contractor and have all the work done again. This time it would be documented and inspected, with all the correct permits and approved materials. But of course now the work cost him twice as much.

As it turned out, Bobby had used cheap knock-off materials that were accidents waiting to happen. No inspector had checked the electrical work, and Bobby was not a licensed electrician to begin with. Josef’s insurance company, not surprisingly, not only refused his claim but cancelled his account.

Ottawa renovators hear this story all the time. It’s why so many of them are registered with RenoMark™. It’s a sign to homeowners that they are not only legitimate but dedicated to safety and excellence on every level.

RenoMark™ was designed and developed in Toronto by the late Stephen Dupuis, CEO of the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD), and launched in 2001.

Mike Martin, owner of Michael J. Martin Luxury Renovations, and Jason Labelle, owner of Dalton Corporation, worked hard to promote it to fellow renovators in Ottawa.

Now RenoMark™ is a familiar sign of distinction, and Ottawa-and-area renovators wear it with pride.

“We were tired of seeing people getting ripped off and blaming the industry,” Mike says.

John Herbert, Executive Director of the Greater Ottawa Home Builders’ Association, says it’s terrible when an unsuspecting client runs into a fly-by-night guy like Bobby.

“It’s purely criminal, of course,” he says. “These guys take your money and just move on.”

He says one of the most important reasons for using a RenoMark™ contractor is that it immediately differentiates between the amateurs and professionals.

At a minimum, RenoMark™ contractors and renovators must give clients at least a two-year warranty, abide by WSIB safety codes, and carry proper insurance, licenses and permits.

They must also be courteous, clean, organized and current in their professional knowledge. In Ottawa, they have to be a member in good standing of the Greater Ottawa Home Builders’ Association and abide by the association’s code of ethics.

For Josef B., it was a hard lesson learned.