How do we fix this problem

At present, reno contractors in Nova Scotia are completely unregulated, mostly untrained, and many commit fraud and theft, occasionally almost completely destroy houses, wipe out life savings, commit perjury, ignore court rulings, and suffer few or no consequences, unlike many other places in North America where reno contractors who step out of line can suffer serious consequences.

What to do?
1. Contractors need to be trained, including through an apprentice program, before they're turned loose on the general public.
2. Contractors need to be licensed, as are electricians. A wanna-be contractor can cause just as much damage to a house as someone pretending to be an electrician. This idea is catching on.
3. Contractors need to be regulated and the regulating agency made accountable for the actions of its members. Contractors need to be members of the agency. If you're not a member, you can't work as a contractor.
4. The municipal planning and development office - where building permits are issued - should verify that applicants are licensed to carry on business as contractors. If not, the permit should be denied.
4. Paragraph 24(B) of the Builders Lien Act should be struck. The Act (24A) says that if you put a lien on someone's house, you need to tell the homeowner within 30 days, but 24(B) says it doesn't really matter if you skip that part. If the contractor doesn't inform the homeowner as stipulated, the lien should automatically disappear. The contractor should provide an affidavit to the Registry of Deeds office that this has been done, same as an affidavit of service.
5. When filing a lien, the contractor should provide a sworn affidavit detailing his grounds. The affidavit should be included in the notification to the homeowner in (4) above.
6. Police and the public prosecution service should be encouraged to prosecute contractors for filing false liens, because they automatically perjure themselves in the process. Once a false lien has worked its way through the court - or even if the contractor drops the case - he perjured himself when he swore his affidavit. That he lost the case would logically suggest that he committed perjury in the original lien filing. Of course, "logic" and "law" don't always coexist.
7. Liens should be self-extinguishing. For example, if court action has not been started within 105 days of the last day of work, (ie the Certificate of Lis Pendens has not been delivered to the Land Titles Office within 105 days), the lien should die.
8. Police should be required to follow up on complaints of fraud and theft filed by a homeowner against a contractor. In a case where a contractor told a homeowner he had finished certain specified tasks and wanted his $8,000 progress payment - and got it - it turned out he hadn't even started it. The homeowner believed that this act met every definition of "fraud" and went to the police. The police said it's a civil matter and wouldn't touch it. One homeowner - mentioned elsewhere in this website - had his credit card stolen by a contractor who used it to pay his account at the local building materials supplier. The homeowner didn't even bother contacting the police based on what he'd heard about their indifference to matters like this, but the building supplier was cooperative and credited the stolen amount to the credit card account.

Putting controls on renovation contractors won't be easy - there will be resistance because potentially 80% of existing contractors could find themselves out of business, or going to trade school. Even if government doesn't want to put rules in place, they should at least provide consequences with enough bite to deter crooked contractors from inflicting life-altering harm on home owners. On the flip side, the well-respected 20% portion of contractors should embrace and vigorously support any measures which would rid the renovation business of people who are basically home wreckers and thieves and drag everyone down to their level, at least in the eyes of customers.
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