When you’re doing a homebuilding or remodeling project in Scarborough plumbers are high on your list of must-haves. Not just any plumbers, however—you want reliable, respected companies who have a good reputation. Regardless of whether your project is commercial or residential, any contractors you use must be licensed and must work in compliance with the City’s strict building codes. Here are some of the questions you need to ask before appointing a company to handle your project:

Q #1: How big is your company?

This might seem irrelevant, but it matters when you have workmen on your project who are unsupervised. If the business is too small, it might not have sufficient management staff to oversee all projects. Depending on the size of your project, this could be an important factor in your choice of Scarborough plumbers.

Q #2: Are you licensed?

You’d think this was obvious, wouldn’t you? But it’s surprising how many unlicensed “home handymen” there are who offer their services as if they were legit—but they aren’t. Ask for the company’s license number and call the City at 416-392-6700 to verify it. Scarborough plumbers, along with companies in other areas in the GTA, are all required to register with the City’s Municipal Licensing and Standards Division.

Q #3: Do you have insurance?

This one goes hand-in-hand with the previous question because the typical home handyman doesn’t usually have public liability insurance, workmen’s compensation or any of the other options that will protect you in the event one of his workers sets your home on fire. It’s also important to know that his staff is covered adequately for any injuries they get while on your property, or you might be held liable for those.

Q #4: Can you provide contactable references?

Note the use of the word “contactable!” It’s there for a reason. Just because your favorite Scarborough plumbers have a website with a list of snappy quotes from people named “Jim” and “Susan” doesn’t make them authentic. Anyone can—and does—add this kind of testimonial to their site. Ask for the names and contact details of former clients who had similar projects executed by the contractors, and call them yourself to verify the claims. After all, if you’re planning to spend several thousand dollars on your home, it’s worth the time it takes to make a phone call to be sure you’re putting your money in reliable hands.

Q #5: Are you prepared to pass inspection?

This one’s usually the deal-breaker, but if you have a project big enough it’s worth holding out. Arrange to have the plumbing work inspected by Toronto Water before making your final payment, with the understanding that if the inspector finds anything amiss the plumber will fix it before you settle his bill. Don’t expect Scarborough plumbers to wait weeks until the entire project is finished to get their money, but it’s reasonable to expect their work to pass inspection at various stages during a big project.

Home renovations cost a lot of money, and it’s only realistic to expect the best service your money can buy. Make sure that’s what you’re getting by asking the right questions and making sure you’re satisfied with—or you follow up on—the answers.