Anybody can call themselves a contractor. In the city of Edmonton, there is no special requirement for operating as a general contractor other than applying for a license with the city. This means that no formal training is required to be a contractor. The person you may be speaking to about your project might be nothing more than a D-I-Y guy with a lot of time on his hands. If you looking for someone with training and expertise, a good start is to look for an Alberta certified carpenter.
Alberta certified carpenters go through 4 years of training. Each year as an apprentice, 1360 hours of on the job training and 8 weeks of technical training must be completed. In addition to the technical training, apprentices are required to write a provincial exam after each session and, in their 4th session, apprentices can write the inter-provincial exam and obtain their red seal.
So what is involved in this training? On the job training varies from company to company and apprentice to apprentice, and, talking to the other apprentices in the technical training, everyone comes from a different background. Some people worked in commercial construction, some people in residential. A few of the guys worked for maintenance companies and some were on staff at new home builders. I was the only renovations guy out of the thirty apprentices in my class.
The technical training, however, is aimed at teaching the fundamental skills in order to be successful at carpentry. In my own opinion, I think it succeeds very well at this goal. It provides everyone with a chance to practice some of the skills we don’t use every day (in my case, pouring concrete) and it helps reinforce the skills we already know by explaining why things are done the way they are. Every apprentice carpenter that goes through the training comes out with the skills and tools needed to build a home from laying out the first cut stakes for the excavation, to nailing on the last piece of baseboard.
Most importantly, the technical training goes over everything there is to know about the Alberta Building Code as it applies to residential construction. Without this knowledge, your home would never pass inspection. Or, if by chance it did, you could be living in an unsafe home.
Knowing what I’ve told you now, who would you want to hire for your next renovation project: a handyman or a carpenter? It’s as simple as just asking to see your contractor’s Journeyman ticket.