(c) RhondaK @Unsplash

Costly Home Improvement Disasters and How to Safely Avoid Them


Avoid expensive mistakes by hiring competent, reliable, licensed professionals for your home improvement projects and repairs.

Earlier this week, a friend called me in a panic outside of his home during an emergency evacuation. There was a minor renovation underway, and no one could have imagined that this job was literally about to explode.

Once each family member was accounted for after leaving the house, he was able to call me from his mobile phone. What could have turned into a complete nightmare was circumvented, thanks to nosy neighbours and their life-saving reaction. Bystanders were moved with concern and suspicion as they smelled the scent of gas while witnessing the contractor’s hurried departure.

Pixabay at Pexels

Can you imagine having seconds to rush out of your home without notice? Experiencing a member from the local fire department banging frantically at your bathroom door, shouting for you to vacate the premises immediately, probably isn’t the best way to start your day. Ever!

Thanks to brave firemen and competent neighbours, this home owner’s stupidity prepares us for a series of lessons. Lessons to be learned and shared to help prevent fatal accidents and a pricey aftermath.

In need of minor household repairs, the owner hired a friend of a friend to work in the home without verifying his qualifications or experience. Investigators discovered that the home owner didn’t have a surname or company information for the contractor – not even a telephone number. What is also unsettling is that the property was without an active Gas Leak Detector, which should have been installed as an added safety measure.

It’s still unclear how events of the day unfolded, however the unlicensed contractor accidentally ruptured the gas line. Attentive neighbours smelled gas and observing his hurried departure, they confronted him directly. He admitted to cutting the line, was encouraged to call the gas company and did so on the spot prior to fleeing the scene without notifying the household. Thankfully, bystanders were able to contact the local fire department who responded within minutes.

(c) Alev Takil @Unsplash

After the entire neighbourhood was asked to evacuate their homes, mayhem ensued as families gathered nearby to witness the arrival of fire trucks, police cars, EMS transport and gas company trucks. (There are costs associated with legitimate and false alarms. Check your city’s Fire By-law for service fees.)

The family on the other side of the house jumped into their car in an effort to leave the neighbourhood. Luckily, members of the fire department stopped them moments before they could turn on the car’s ignition. Please DO NOT start your vehicle if you suspect the presence of natural gas! Know what to do if you smell natural gas.

Who would have thought that a simple
work order could lead to a near fatality!

This story ends well in that there were no deaths, no injuries and no “contractor” (as he wasn’t certified). Fines and charges have been laid after authorities urged the homeowner to locate his contact details. Sadly, it came down to them waiting for the friend to find the friend while the gas company remedied the damaged gas line.

Let me be direct with a strong word of advice – take precautionary measures by calling the experts first before you start your home renovation project. Save money, time and lives!

Now that you have decided to move forward with your renovation, it is up to you to perform your due diligence. Make a few calls as you compile your list of licensed potentials. Consider a skilled professional who can assist with defining a remodelling plan – no matter how great or small the task, it is important even if you are the DIY type.

From minor repairs to large construction jobs,
seek guidance from qualified experts even
when referred by a friend.

Once your homework is done and you have short-listed the top 3-to-5 potential candidates, your next steps are to schedule a site visit. Be sure to have a family member, neighbour or friend attend the initial meeting with you. Have potential candidates identify themselves upon arriving at your home; request a quote for service, verifying the full price, deadlines and scope of work. Get it in writing! Be sure to compare detailed quotes, which should include the contractor and company’s name and logo, the current date, and check if the quote expires as some company’s may limit their quotes to a specific period of time.

Keep your family and community safe during and after the renovation process. Find the right company to work for you. Referrals can be trusted, however it is up to you to verify details deemed important enough to avoid legal recourse, costly repairs, and the stress of a fatal disaster.

Photograph by, Randy Faith