Protecting consumer renovations

The Siding and Window Dealers Association of Canada (SAWDAC) lives by its mission to “protect consumers and help renovators build better businesses.”

The association

An association with a membership of 300 home renovators nation-wide, is built upon two primary programs. Reno Plan is a financial assistance program (the lender being Home Trust) which offers loans to customers of the association, a program which is utilized by about one-third of its membership quite regularly. According to SAWDAC, Reno Plan provides funding to home owners to complete any home renovation project. Financing is available between $1,000 and $25,000, and for capital above $2,500, terms up to 15 years are available.

A second initiative, termed Window Wise, is used by about 50 members and requires members to have their installers trained and registered so the association can perform more random inspections to about five per cent of the member’s work portfolio. It is a comprehensive program because the home owners are then issued a warranty from SAWDAC. For home owners replacing their existing windows, Window Wise is a quality assurance program that provides approved windows, certified contractors, energy star qualified product, etc.

Membership size

While SAWDAC’s membership size is still premature, SAWDAC reviews new member applicants with a fine tooth comb. According to the association’s website, more than 50 per cent of applicants are rejected from joining the association because they simply do not meet the appropriately high standards of SAWDAC, with the association vowing to enforce high standards from its membership. When choosing a registered SAWDAC member, the consumer can be assured quality, professional and guaranteed workmanship.

“We look for people who are responsible and if they’re not responsible it usually sticks out like a sore thumb,” said David Mitten, Executive Director with SAWDAC, “whether it be a record with the Better Business Bureau, or not [properly] looking after a complaint… We’ve been trying to grow our membership for 20 years. When an issue hits the industry, like consumer legislation, giving advice to contractors, that generally drives membership.

“You could say our membership size is a little disappointing because there are literally thousands of home renovators in this country. By and large, we are certainly the only national association, so you would think there would be more than 300 members, but that is just the nature of the business.”

Membership benefits

Membership criteria must be met in addition to the association’s code of ethics. All members seeking to join are required to have been in the business for at least three years and must have a good reputation, reported through credit checks, etc.

Joining members also sign a pledge that they will offer a five-year workmanship guarantee, so SAWDAC can ensure its members are paying liability insurance, have a policy and are covered by workers’ compensation.

“You have to look after your service complaints or you can’t be in SAWDAC. That is the single biggest feather in a SAWDAC member’s cap,” added Mitten.

Among the benefits provided by the association, Mitten added that many small companies are overly busy, or are not particularly interested, in dealing with the little things like paperwork. That’s where SAWDAC can be effectively utilized. Membership attracts workers and contractors in the construction and renovation industry who are interested in projecting a very reputable and an ethical image.

The association educates its members on how to evaluate the proper contractors for their home projects. SAWDAC greatly understands the difficulties associated with home renovation,  particularly the relevant costs and the potential for financial consequences for an unreliable contractor. Members of SAWDAC ensure the highest of work and ethical standards and perform with a high standard in both business and product installation. As stated on the association’s website, renovations shouldn’t hurt and, as such, SAWDAC strives to both help renovators and protect consumers. Members of SAWDAC are committed to the highest of standards in integrity, honesty, fairness, and being responsible in all business conduct.

The key message is quality, ethics and doing things right, what SAWDAC has been provided in protecting consumers since Day 1. “What we do is utilize their business to make it work better.”  

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