Contractor Not Finishing the Job

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Posted by: from Ottawa
12/22/2012 at 10:28:16 PM


I don't know where to post this question within the HandCanadian forum but since this is associated with a contractor versus unfinished job, I would like to know what are your views/opinions.

I hired a contractor for a foundation job in Nov 2012 and gave him $14,000 for the job (with some money remaining left). The job started well but towards at the end of Nov 2012 all work stopped. First week of December - no show - his excuse was the weather was too cold. Second week - flu/cold, and third week - flu/cold sent him to ER.

What are my rights as a customer/client to demand $7000 back from the $14,000 b/c since he didn't show up to finish the job nor close off the excavation from the snow? I requested another contractor to come in to take a look at the damages who said the contractor did a horrible job and I should ask half of my money back. The job can't be finished until Spring and I am left with an open foundation expose to Ottawa cold weather.

Should I ask half of $14,000? If he said no due to I am bind to the contract, even though he can't even finish the job, and not even sub-contracting the job to another contractor, can I take him to small court claim? Is it even worth to take him to small court claim b/c I'm afraid he doesn't have the money even if I won the case.

Any suggestions will be helpful. I know it is usually the clients who don't pay for the service but I am not one of that kind of client instead the role is switch.

Thank you.

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Date/Time12/22/2012 at 11:18:09 PM

This is a tuff situation. I am a firm believer in the client always being right. In your situation it sounds like it wouldn't matter 1 way or the other.

You could try and sue him and spend all sorts of money on a great lawyer to win in court and have the contractor claim bankruptcy. You lose both ways, both time and money and you still don't have your foundation done.

Bottom line is you need this done to get your project finished as quickly as possible.

Good luck


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Date/Time12/23/2012 at 12:04:18 AM

I get it when things go wrong for a contractor, it's tough and a little patients can go a long way. If he is out of commission. Reputable contractors should belong to an association and have a provincial bond and insurance. In our area these are to be posted on the contract. Look into these.

Just to be safe you might wont to check if there was an inspection done on the foundation, if it is required in your area. If he is truly sick your right you may not be able to get anything from him, it never hurts to ask.

Good luck

Mr. H. Gavacs

Man Zone Construction Ltd.

Edmonton, Alberta

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Jordan from L.B.F.C in Kelowna
Date/Time12/23/2012 at 12:12:25 AM

Yes take pictures and get other opinions and take him to small claims court. Thats bs.

Next time you hire a contractor sub contractor write up a contract with detail of the work being provided payment scheduel and expected finish time and have you and contractor sign.

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Dave from 360renos in Navan
Date/Time12/23/2012 at 8:44:53 AM

Good Morning Hui

You will need a lawyer to at least start sending letters to get the ball rolling with your contractor and to guide you in the right direction.

You have a lot if rights in Ontario under the Consumer Protection Act

Good luck


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Kristopher from Full Span Construction in Sioux Lookout
Date/Time12/23/2012 at 9:16:34 AM

Contracts are there to protect contractor as well as customer.

He must finish his end of the contract if you finished your end (payed moneys owed), Otherwise the contract has been broken and you should win that case in court.

Remember to take pictures and document dates and times.

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Date/Time12/23/2012 at 9:30:08 AM

Hello, I'm sorry your foundation job has come to this.

The $14,000 given to your contractor seems like a substantial advance on the work. Did you have a contract in place? often contracts with state a time frame allowance for this type of work. This gives you a sense of close finishing dates so that you can schedule other tradesmen and material deliveries. it sounds like your contractor has talked you into giving him his entire fee up front. Foundations have to have permits and inspections during the build. The foundation footing needs inspection, Then, the finished block or pour with weeping system and waterproofing in place before back filling. It is sad that you are out this money and now have to maybe wait for the winter to pass.

If this contractor has indicated that he now has no intention of returning to finish the work-without a contract-you may be out of luck. hopefully you had a written contract in place and that all of the inspections were complete. Usually - a payment schedule has a down payment for start up and materials, another advance after footings are passed and final payment when your local inspector signs off and allows back fill.

So, I hope that you had a contract giving you some legal standing- There are so many so called contractors that show up with a armload of tools and suggest and convince you that they know what they are doing. This gives honest and experienced contractors a bad name-it is so necessary for homeowners to do their homework on who they hire and get references.

I would certainly ask for at least half of your money back-if there was no inspection and you find out the work that is done is not right-i would advise you to take legal action for the entire amount plus the cost of making it right. The next company you hire will not only have to complete the job-but they will also have to remove the unsatisfactory work that exists.

Hope this works out for you in the end.

Bruce Tiffin

Granite Wood Construction

Georgian Bay, Parry Sound, Muskoka

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Date/Time12/23/2012 at 10:51:40 AM

If you have some sort of a written contract, then I would try to enforce it to get the work done. Without a contract this will be very difficult. If you have made a payment with a record in the form of a receipt or a cheque, then that is an indication of some sort of an agreement.

You now know that you should not pay a deposit to any contractor for anything. Paying for materials on delivery to site is a safe bet on your part.

The most important issue now is to protect your footings from frost damage. You will need to install straw protection to the footings to prevent the frost from lifting the footings. Your contractor should pay for this. As far as the bad workmanship is concerned, it would have to be quite serious to be beyond repair. Concrete work can and is done all through the winter with appropriate heating and protection.

I would hire a lawyer experienced in construction litigation to send your contractor a letter explaining the facts related to construction business agreements. This would be money well spent. I have just finished with some construction litigation and had I done this early in the process I would have saved myself a lot of grief and expense. I needed to proceed to mediation to settle our issue and I found that our legal system, that I was always fast to criticize, in the end worked very well.

In short, your contractor can not get away with what he is trying to do if you defend yourself. People like him give the contracting community a bad image and they should be forced to perform or pay back.

Good luck fighting for YOUR rights!

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Date/Time12/23/2012 at 11:34:13 AM

While your case is unfortunate it happens all to often. Before making any decisions on how to proceed there are many things to consider. A few I would first review would be: Who is the contract with? Is it with the contractors company or is the contract in his name? If the contact is in the name of the contractors company is the company registered? If not he may be on the hook personally.

I would also review the contract. Is it a standard form contract or is a proposal prepared by the contractor? Were there provisions for delays, deficiencies, etc.? Was a consultant such as an architect or engineer involved?

Leaving the foundation exposed over a winter season may cause irreparable damages. You may have to take extra precautions to prevent further damage from what the contractor has already caused or you may be on the hook for any deficiencies over and above what your contractor has performed.

The above are just a few of many items to be considered.

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Date/Time12/23/2012 at 12:06:22 PM

To: The gentleman with the unfinished foundation

Of course you can ask for your money back, but I doubt that he/she will do so.

It's unfortunate, but this is a common occurrence. Customers hire a contractor to complete a job, and the job does not get completed, or completed correctly.

The lesson here is not to pay so much up front. A better way is to Pay as you go. Before the job starts, work out a payment plan, where you will issue payment every week or every two weeks. Never issue such a large deposit.

Our small claims system is clogged with, Customer vs Contractor or vice versa. Often times, nobody wins except the lawyers. Yes, if you do win, you are not guaranteed your money.

I also would get another option of the condition of your foundation. Often, contractors who have been called to look or fix someone else's work sometimes will criticize more than they should.

Try to resolve the issue with your current contractor, and have him complete what he has started.

All Canadian Construction Victoria BC

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Date/Time12/23/2012 at 1:18:12 PM

I feel bad for you. There are always bad apples in the bunch.

Was he the cheapest price for the job? That's usually the sign that he's not experienced. Or he is going to start n not finish the job.

U should proceed in this order. Have 3 different contractors provide u with detailed quotes to finish the job. I would then proceed to have one of the contractors finish the work n proceed with small claim court to have the legit ament refund, refunded.

Make sure u name him personally n also the business name when registering a claim against him. Wouldn't be a bad idea to hire a small firm to handle this if u don't feel confortable.

Cheers n good luck


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Vedran from Stucco-Flex in Ottawa
Date/Time12/23/2012 at 1:57:22 PM

Im stucco contractor and usualy clients try not to pay. That why we take deposit for materials on delivery. In your case if the contractor is serious company you can try to sue them and they will probably try to avoid that and finish the job.

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Hm in Ottawa
Date/Time12/23/2012 at 7:14:19 PM

Thank you for all your responses!

The contract we signed did not state the finish date but through our conversation in person he said about three days. But after the soil testing failed for the first time, and the engineering came back for the second time to test the soil all work stopped. I even called the engineering company to make sure the testings are legit.

The scary event out of this when I called the engineering company to request for the second report, the engineering company will not release the report until I paid for the service. Apparently, the contractor VISA credit card was declined (which I am not surprise) and I should pay for the cost if I want the second report. Therefore, I asked what's the point taking the contractor to small court claims when he can't even pay his bills plus where did the money go?

I can only try to ask some of my money back and move onto another contractor.

Adam from The GeoFocus Group "If the contact is in the name of the contractors company is the company registered? " Where would I find this information for future renos?

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J&J Gas Lines in Oshawa
Date/Time12/24/2012 at 3:17:49 AM

Ask for everything back. Once you have received your money use it on a strong reliable and reputable company who stands behind every inch of their work and keep them to their word in respect to their workmanship. Or buddy will finish the job right sooner than you can sneeze!

Merry Christmas!

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Date/Time12/24/2012 at 9:08:20 AM

If you had a contract drawn up for the work to be performed, then by all means talk to a lawyer. There are some lawyers available who offer free initial consultations. They will be able to get you started on the right legal path.

If you cannot find a lawyer to perform this for you, consult the local building codes office or home builders association.

Good Luck.

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Date/Time12/24/2012 at 10:49:51 AM

Ottawa area has many soil types (7) and is renowned for foundation problems.

For this kind of problem it was very important to determine what was causing your foundation problem in the first place. Once you know this call in the city to confirm what remedies they require to pass the permit stage. Once you know this contact the BBB and get three quotes. Get the work done and then take the contractor and your to small claims court (get a knowledgeable lawyer) and bill the contractor for the work. All the best.

This problem could run as high as $65K depending on how extensive the damage is.

The dry weather in Ottawa this year created many such problems, as tree roots sucked up all moisture and caused soil to collapse around and under houses that were built on bogs.

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Date/Time12/24/2012 at 2:01:57 PM


I am not that familiar with the legalities in your province but what I do know is that you paid the contractor and he has not finished the job.

While I do agree that if you do sue him,he probably has no means to pay you back and since his unfortuneate health situation he is probably further in debt and going broke.

So, in my experience I would do the following. Send him a registered/notorized letter telling him due to the circumstances you are letting him go. Therefore you are requesting him to return half of the payment back as he has not completed the job.(he probably wont pay)

Continue on and hire another contractor to clean his work up and complete the job as per your contract. You can continue trying to sue the previous one,but if you hang on to hope that he will pay, forget it.

You will lose lots of sleep,time wasted and money to recoup the funds. But I would continue to sue him so people like him do not get away with what they do. In the end,the judge may rule in your favour but a monetary amount will be negotiated based upon his ability to pay. If you get $2000 back after a year and all said and done, take the money and go on a well deserved vacation. Dont expect much or you will be dissapointed. If the original contractor wants to agree to a settlement out of court and he offers you $2000 now, take it and run. You will be farther ahead.



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Hm in Ottawa
Date/Time12/24/2012 at 7:27:52 PM

Would I have to pay for the engineering cost due to his VISA was declined? I received an invoice for the work he requested from the engineering company but I paid him for the foundation service. I don't think I should be on the hook for the invoice plus the engineering told me the contractor was his client not me who requested the service.

Thank you for all your help and suggestions.

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Hm in Ottawa
Date/Time3/1/2013 at 9:52:37 PM


I decided to file a complaint with the BBB in Ottawa, and at the end they couldn't reach the company called City Side Developments Inc. under the name Chris Hewston. The engineering company decided to pursue Chris Hewston with the unpaid bill even though I paid $14,000 for work not done nor paid.

He was referral and the person who referred him to me did not know about his unfinished jobs which he had done in the past with other client(s).

My next step is calling the Corporation of Canada and CRA.

Thank you for your responses and I will keep you updated on the situation.

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Lyndon in Ottawa
Date/Time9/4/2013 at 11:45:34 AM


I believe I'm in a similar situation with the same contractor

If you would like to contact me to possibly join forces and gang up on this guy please email me at

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Lyndon in Ottawa
Date/Time12/31/2013 at 1:40:04 PM

Just to follow up with my post from earlier...

Yes indeed we had the same contractor and he turned out to be a total fraud.

We ended up hiring a lawyer to draft a letter to fire him from our business expansion project.

We had to hire additional contractors to finish the job and fix the poor workmanship.

Total fraud, total moron, unprofessional, unsafe, poor workmanship, creditors calling my business looking for this guy because he owes money. RUN AWAY.

This guy is a rock bottom broke based on the phone calls I was getting from collection agencies after we fired this goof ball. If we figured he has some money our business would sue his company but our lawyer advised us that although we would win...its prob not worth our time.

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Lyndon in Ottawa
Date/Time10/22/2015 at 2:13:36 PM

Now in 2015 and this guy is still at it. I just got an email from ANOTHER person who Chris Hewston has ripped off.

Since this post I have had several emails from several people over the last 2 years who have all found this web site and emailed me to tell me about Hewston.

Once again be WARNED!!! STAY AWAY!! DO NOT HIRE!!

I hope this post finds as many people as possible on the internet.

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