The Government of Quebec has published a draft regulation on voluntary construction work that would allow duplex and triplex owners to do maintenance and renovations without having to hire a professional with skill certification and without having to pay the hourly labour rates set by the construction industry.
Currently, Act R-20 (Act Respecting Labour Relations, Vocational Training and Workforce Management in the Construction Industry) requires hiring a worker, which, depending on the trade, costs between $62 and $84 an hour in the light residential sector. Given the problems of cost, availability and even lack of contractor interest for some small jobs, many owners prefer or are forced to do the work themselves.
This practice is illegal, however. These owners risk being fined if an inspector from Quebec’s construction commission (CCQ) finds out. Doing renovations oneself is only allowed for the unit or dwelling the individual lives in, not for units that are rented for profit. A fine can range from $225 to $1,794.
CORPIQ has long called for these restrictions to be relaxed, and brought the issue to the attention of the Government of Quebec numerous times in the 1980s and 90s. More recently, in 2011, CORPIQ asked the ministry of labour to change the law. And in 2015, it requested support from the ministry of economy, which is responsible for reducing the regulatory and administrative burden. CORPIQ still finds it absurd that owners cannot do certain renovations in their own units, especially those that wouldn’t threaten public safety in any way.
Some of the types of work included in the proposed regulation that would be allowed if done voluntarily by a specific person in his or her duplex or triplex are:
- interior and exterior painting
- resurfacing of interior floors, walls, ceilings
- non-structural carpentry or finish work
- work related to doors and windows
- work related to factory-made counters and cabinetry
- work related to fireproofing, water tightness, insulation, roofing, exterior wall cladding (except for masonry)
- non-structural masonry work
In contrast, only someone with skill certification may do plumbing, electricity or structural work. This requirement is justified in that these types of work carry risks if not done according to standards.
Note that this would not affect building owners who have maintenance and renovation work done by their permanent employees. These owners would still be exempt from Act R-20.
CORPIQ now has several weeks to submit its recommendations regarding the draft regulation. Members are invited to share comments with us, including thoughts on the fact that the regulation would relax the law for duplex and triplex owners only.