Best practices for hiring a contractor in Calgary

Calgary homeowners are still pursuing their renovation dreams, as we saw a five per cent increase in residential improvement permit applications from 2022 to 2023. Choosing the right contractor is a key to the success of your remodeling activities.

Here are some tips and best practices for hiring a contractor:

A valid City of Calgary business licence

Check if the contractor has a City of Calgary business license before hiring. A licence will tell you if the contractor can take pre-payments and deposits. Their City licence is also required when they take out any construction and trade permits.

To confirm if your contractor has a business licence you can contact the Planning Services Centre at, call us at 403-268-5311 or visit the Contractor Licensing search page here.  

Contractors requesting prepayment

Contractors requesting pre-payments or progress payments for work must be licensed with the Government of Alberta as a pre-paid contractor. You can verify by contacting the Consumer Contact Centre at 1-877-427-4088 or visit Service Alberta. If you hire a contractor who is requesting prepayment or a deposit for the work, they must be able to provide confirmation of licensing on request. If their licence type does not allow them to ask for a deposit, they may need to get approval from the province to collect prepayments and deposits. Do not pay deposits to contractors who are not licenced to accept them.

You can also find out if a business is licensed on the Government of Alberta’s website using the Find a Licensed Business Search Tool

Other tips to protect you against poor business practices include:

  • Deal with a reputable company, ask for references and check them.
  • Search for a contractor’s Business Profile at for free information on their history of complaints, read verified customer reviews, and see if they are an accredited business.
  • Get a detailed written estimate from more than one company. You should always shop around and get at least three quotes from three different businesses.
  • Confirm building permits. Your contractor must have the correct permits before starting your project. Request that all final inspections be completed by the local building official prior to final payment.
  • Draft a contract in writing to clarify the project scope, timelines and costs. Never let any work begin without a written and signed contract.
  • Play it smart when paying deposits. Arrange a payment schedule. Never pay in full up front. Stagger your payments so your final payment is not due until the work is complete and you have fully inspected it.
  • Ask to see proof of insurance, in case of property damage and injury. Always be sure that the company you decide to work with has the necessary licenses and insurance to work in your region.
  • After the work is completed, check your title for any liens placed on your property by the contractor or subcontractors for outstanding payments. If your contractor doesn’t pay their bills, a lien can be placed on your property so don’t pay until you’re sure all is clear. You can hold back 10 per cent for 45 days.
  • Keep your contract. Hold on to your contract for future reference or if any questions arise after the work is complete. 

For more information visit the hiring a contractor webpage or watch our webinar on how to hire a contractor.