The Régie du bâtiment du Québec’s (RBQ’s) mission is to protect consumers in the construction industry in Quebec. It ensures that the contractors it licenses have the right qualifications to practice their trade. However, Auditor General Guylaine Leclerc tabled a report in June 2021 that highlighted flaws in the system. Does RBQ verification guarantee a contractor’s competency and reliability? Let’s take a look.
An RBQ licence: A must-have
There’s no doubt about it: you must have a valid RBQ licence to work as a contractor in Quebec. In fact, it’s one of the 53 conditions to be a Verified Contractor at RenoAssistance.
The RBQ requires financial guarantees to protect consumers, either in the form of licence security or adherence to the Guarantee Plan for New Residential Buildings. This helps consumers deal with any undesirable situations that may arise during construction.
To get a licence, a contractor must pass RBQ examinations, complete a training program recognized by the RBQ, or possess relevant professional experience or education. Having an RBQ licence should guarantee quality and demonstrate competency to consumers.
RBQ verification: Areas for improvement based on the Auditor General’s report
According to the Office de la protection du consommateur (OPC), construction, maintenance, and renovation services rank 4th (out of 70 sectors) in terms of the number of complaints received. This motivated the Auditor General’s audit. Let’s review some of the report’s findings.
Evaluating contractor competency
The Auditor General of Quebec’s performance audit revealed shortcomings in the RBQ verification process for ensuring a contractor’s competency and work quality.
- RBQ examinations are not updated regularly. Many contractors take the same exam more than once, which increases the chances of them knowing the answers ahead of time.
- Worksites are not inspected often by the RBQ. An inspection can determine whether a building meets Building Code requirements. Over a three-year period, the RBQ inspected 7% (1,431/20,449) of general contractors’ and 12% (1,548/12,899) of specialized contractors’ worksites.
- When a contractor’s non-compliance is identified, the RBQ requests that it be corrected but doesn’t take any further corrective action against the contractor (e.g., requiring mandatory training).
- To maintain competency, professional development will be required for some types of general contractors starting in 2022. This is not ideal as thousands of RBQ licensees will not be required to do this.
- Information on contractors is not centralized so it is difficult to identify contractors that may be performing poor quality work.
RBQ verification to grant and maintain a licence
Before granting a licence, the RBQ verifies a contractor’s reported past history. Apart from that, it doesn’t check any other element of the contractor’s status.
The report also notes that the RBQ doesn’t always intervene in a timely manner with contractors who don’t meet Building Code requirements, especially regarding probity and solvency issues. This includes situations such as bankruptcy, violations of RBQ and CNESST standards, and violations of tax or other laws.
The RBQ verification process is incomplete and, as a result, sometimes leads to RBQ licences being issued to people who do not meet the requirements. In fact, when issues of non-compliance are raised, the investigation and management can last several months, if not longer, during which the contractor continues to work.
A long-standing issue is finally addressed
Unfortunately, this isn’t a new problem. When RenoAssistance launched in January 2010, Canadians already had serious trust issues with contractors.
RenoAssistance Founder Eric Périgny went through his own renovation nightmare and it inspired him to add additional verifications to the basic ones required by the RBQ.
He ran into several problems with contractors hired to renovate rental buildings, which caused him to lose a significant amount of money. He felt that a new verification system was needed to prevent others, like his parents, from experiencing the same issues.
What is RenoAssistance’s 53-point Verification Process?
To minimize the risk of an unpleasant experience, we go through all the contractors we recommend with a fine-tooth comb. This rigorous process checks 53 elements, including the following:
- Judicial history: Each contractor undergoes a background check to ensure they have a clean criminal record.
- Insurance: A contractor must always have valid insurance.
- Licences: Contractors must possess a valid licence that corresponds to the type of projects they’re working on.
- Solvency: A contractor must show proof of sound financial status.
- Business relations: We verify that contractors’ accounts with suppliers are in good standing.
- Client satisfaction: We conduct audits of previous clients to make sure they are satisfied.
A department dedicated to continuous verification
Our dedicated audit team performs the most thorough audit process in the industry: our 53-point Verification Process. It’s done on a continuous basis to ensure that our standards of excellence are maintained.
Our clients’ opinions matter and we check their satisfaction level after each project. Our Verified Contractors must meet the highest quality standards to continue to be recommended by RenoAssistance.
In fact, we have an alert system that sends notifications to our clients and our audit department whenever there is a change in the status of any contractor in our network (e.g., expired licence or insurance).
In short, a contractor must not only pass the 53-point Verification Process but also maintain these criteria to remain a Verified Contractor recommended by RenoAssistance. We perform ongoing audits. If a contractor’s status is no longer compliant, they are no longer part of our network.
A transparent verification report in your hands
If you choose to meet one of the contractors we recommend, we will provide you with a report on them that contains a reliability index, the satisfaction level of past clients, and much more. We give you a complete picture of the contractor.
Recommended by Protégez-Vous
Protégez-Vous, a non-profit Quebec organization, conducted two independent surveys on contractor referral services. The two surveys arrived at the same conclusion: RenoAssistance has a verification process that is second to none (in French only).
“Of the sites we assessed, RenoAssistance goes the extra mile to verify contractors before admitting them to its network.”
Calls for RBQ verification to change?
Construction and renovation is one of the largest markets – it was evaluated at $53 billion in 2019. That said, mistakes and poorly executed work have major ramifications in terms of cost to owners and building safety. One would expect the industry to be more supervised.
However, the RBQ stated that it welcomed the Auditor General’s report (in French only) and promised to introduce corrective actions to the RBQ verification process. These are explained in detail in their press release and include reviewing the contractor qualification process, developing web tools to better inform consumers, and improving the investigative process to address bad practices.
53-point Verification Process: The most comprehensive in the industry
If you are looking for a contractor who passed a rigorous audit process, our 53-point Verification Process is still the most comprehensive in the industry. We invite you to contact us if you have any questions or are looking for a Verified Contractor.