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How to deal with a bad contractor's threat?

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Posted by: from Bradford
3/30/2013 at 2:07:16 PM

I hired a contractor in mid-Feb. to finish my basement to put in a kitchen and bathroom. Six weeks later he walked off the job with incomplete work and still owing me labour/materials for my basement.

My question is does ontario have an organization similar to the state of contractor licensing board? Beside taking him to court and report him to the BBB what else can I do?

He also threaten me to take my basement apart if I take him to court. As a single woman I do fear for my security. My alarm system disable/disconnected for the renovation currently as well.

He was referred by a member of a local community website in Bradford Ontario. Where can I find out if his business is registered, license and insured?

Any advices would be helpful from the contractor prospective and point of view would be greatly appreciated.

REPLIES (20)
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Yuri from AIMG Inc in Richmond Hill
Date/Time3/30/2013 at 3:14:26 PM

Hi,

Regardless of anything else, if he threatens you you should go to police and report this. They will deal with him pretty efficiently. If after this he still refuses to return deposit you can deal with this at the court.

Having a written contract will be helpful.

Good luck

Yuri

AIMG inc

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Dale from VortexFinish in St. John's
Date/Time3/30/2013 at 3:18:47 PM

How about the Bradford Chamber of Commerce, maybe they can help.

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Richard from DK Land And Home in Bradford
Date/Time3/30/2013 at 3:24:12 PM

Hello

You should always check that a company is legal before starting any work from them. Contractors like this guy really put out a bad name for the companies that actual work hard for our customers. The main problem with this is if its only a small amount of work needing to be done, as taking him to court may not really be worth your time.

Here's what I would do, I would get another legal contractor to come an quote you on the remaining work, that way you have a number to use, well that contractor is there I would most defiantly get your alarm turned back on, for your safety, with a number of cost remaining, a original receipt from the other contractor you will have a better chance in court.

Richard

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Date/Time3/30/2013 at 4:05:27 PM

Hi

First I will like to apologize for the behavior of the bad contractor. In regards to this 'He also threatens me to take my basement apart if I take him to court.' He cannot take anything from your house ones we installed something in your house that becomes part of your property. At the moment he breaks something that will be considerate vandalism so you can taking to court base on (vandalism to a private property) Also make sure if you are taking him to a small claim have the contract details and pictures of the present state of the project.

Also you can call all the companies that you want but at the end your basement will stay in the same condition that will give him a bad name and you maybe will help other, but to fix your situation the two options I see is talk to the contractor and try to come to a write agreement. The last option is to go to small claims.

In regards to 'Six weeks later he walked off the job with incomplete work and still owing me labour/materials for my basement' this sometimes happen when a contractor under bits on a contract, so it takes him more time and money that the one he estimate. My suggestion to you is try to fix the situation between you and him, but if this does not work you have the right to go do a small claim.

Please to all home owners always ask for references and insurance. Also (estimates) estimate is an approximation to the final cost of the renovation. Measurements and custom additions are not accurately presented. Please be aware that total cost might be higher or lower (5 to 10%) than the one expressed in this evaluations' the best t rule to know if the estimate are somewhat accurate is to see the cost of the material x2 (This changes in some occasions).

I hope this information helps.

Jorge P

The Construction Guys

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Date/Time3/30/2013 at 4:50:48 PM

Hi,

Sorry to hear about the situation you are in. Everything should be outlined in his contract. All items such as business number, wsib and insurance information. You could take him to small claims court which could be your only avenue.

Without knowing further information it is difficult to comment properly. I would definitely report your threats to the police and make sure your security system is working.

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Date/Time3/30/2013 at 4:53:40 PM

Unfortunately for you, making sure he was registered and insured were the first things you wanna ask a contractor. I hope you have a copy of a signed contract with his information listed (his letter head) I have never heard of any organizations that governs contractors or there work ethic.

You are not the only one that has had this sort of thing happen to. Being a contractor, it's people like him that make our jobs extremely difficult.

I wish there was something I can tell you that would help resolve your problem, but court is the only way to go.

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Date/Time3/30/2013 at 5:41:33 PM

Hi. I am not a legal expert, but I can tell you what I know. If there is no written and signed contractual agreement, you have little else you can do other than what you already stated. Court is pretty much the only alternative.

Unless it is a case of extreme personal or property damage, my personal and professional opinion is that it is always more economical and emotionally healthier to try to work out any nominal differences and come to an agreement to finish the project. It may be a hard pill to swallow when emotions are running high, but at the end of the day, two parties don't have to love each other to commit to finishing the job.

Even after winning a court case, you will still need additional action to actually collect from the judgement. And, it all costs time and money that would be better spent on finishing the project. The same is true for both parties.

Wish I could be more help.

Michael

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Robert from Electrilight Ltd. in Oakville
Date/Time3/30/2013 at 6:19:28 PM

Get your alarm system repaired and use it; and call the police. If he threatens you personally, they need to be informed so if anything happens, they know where to start.

Crappy contractors poison our pool of skilled trades and they need to be put out of business.

Report it to the city department responsible for registering businesses and don't take his threats lightly.

People need to stand up and take action instead of simply moving on, just like any other abuse, it is real and there are always two sides to every story so take it to court and get it sorted out.

Good luck.

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Date/Time3/30/2013 at 7:22:08 PM

Hi my name is Steve Chandra from AlleyLane Homes Construction & More Ltd.

You should call your local city hall and l make them aware of this contractor. Report to BBB and call the police for a file number. The police will make it very clear to not to come to your house. Change your locks and any local secuirity company will gladly come and fix your alarm.

Once you have safe gaurded your self you can go to small claims court and file a claim provided you have a written contract and all your invoices in order.

The amount you can claim max is 25000.00 in small claims. The courts will have someone serve him with the papers. You have upto 2 years to go after him if a contractor walks away from his or her obligations of finishing there work then they have breached their contract. If he wanta to come in and take things apart that is called theft and he us trasspassing. This is a criminal offense. Once a contractor walks off the job he has avoided all his rights.

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Date/Time3/30/2013 at 7:36:10 PM

you can also go online and google his company name. And make the people who refered him aware.

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Date/Time3/30/2013 at 9:26:24 PM

In order to answer this question i would need more information like did you have a written contract with this contractor? Did you pay him in cash or did you write him a cheque to his personal name or to a company?

The BBB is a waste of time unless he is a member, you can take it to court but good luck getting any money out of him. If you do have a contract with him the sad part is without him proving much of anything he can lien out your property to the amount of the contract, this unfortunately happens way more than you think.

There are unscrupulous contractors out there that lowball the price to get the job and walk away from the project with a pocket full of cash and very little work done. As for him, coming to your property to dismantle what he did just call 911 on him the police will sort him out.

Good luck with your issue, I hope you get a resolution very soon.

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Date/Time3/31/2013 at 12:04:47 PM

Call the Police! They probably won't be too helpful with the apparent breach of contract, as that is a civil matter, in their eyes. However, you will likely find the police very accommodating if someone has threatened you. You could likely put a complaint in to the local community website where you found the contractor in the first place. Then, refuse to remove the complaint until you are satisfied.

Before you do anything, CALL THE POLICE ! That way they are aware of this contractor, and his threat. He would be a fool to do anything to hurt you, once the police have had a word with him/her.

IN THE FUTURE, do not pay in advance, EVER. If a contractor can not finance a job to completion, that is a good indication of poor business ability and conduct !

Good Luck!

Paul

Integrity Home Comfort Ltd.

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Di in Bradford
Date/Time3/31/2013 at 1:01:44 PM

Thank you all for your input and I appreciate all your help.

Di

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Robert from Electrilight Ltd. in Oakville
Date/Time3/31/2013 at 2:04:58 PM

Paul,

It is very normal for every job over $1000 to ask for a % deposit. Otherwise, how can the contractor be certain to get their money for the materials that they purchase?

It is a way to have a good agreement between client and contractor. Order a new kitchen from a large kitchen shop, they want 100% up front.

The most important thing in any job is the CONTRACT signed and copied. The comfort level the customer has with the contractor is also important, gut feelings can mean a lot.

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Date/Time3/31/2013 at 2:05:47 PM

Di,

Aside from what ever your contract may or may not have included. Weather you had a contract or not,

This seems to have moved outside a, he said she said business issue.

If this contractor has threatened you, or threatened to enter your home and do anything without your permission it is threatening. that is a criminal offence.

a) You phone the police and report exactly what has occurred.

b) For your own peace of mind have a contractor come in and hook up the few alarm connections that are apart. Regarding the work not completed in the contract, and money un accounted for, I hope you have paper work regarding this, and canceled cheques. That way you can go after this guy in the courts.

It would be helpful if you let us know the dollar amount rounded to the nearest thousand he owes in outstanding work. That way I could better decide what advice to give you.

Sadly there are a number of mickey mouse contractors out there, that don't know how to quote, or how to complete the work properly. There are also a number of contractors who bid low to get work and then try to drive up the price to the levels a responsible contractor would have quoted in the first place.

What ever the case is here, I wish you the best of luck. And remember, there is no reason for you to be frightened. Let the police and people in you neighborhood know what is going on. You are not alone in this world.

Regards,

James Fram

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Date/Time3/31/2013 at 2:22:58 PM

Paul,

Your comment regarding the deposits may be credible in your business. When you are dealing with a few furnaces and hot water heaters.

But when you have two or three contracts on the go, with $20,000 to $40,000 in materials on each one, we most certainly work on a deposit basis. We also have a payment schedule during the project with a ten or fifteen percent hold back until completion.

As a matter of fact, we take deposits on jobs as small as $4,000 or $5,000 dollars as well. The deposits are minimal, but at least I know when I schedule time for myself and my crews there will not be a sudden change in plans.

To suggest what you have is ludicrous, I do not know of any high end contracting firm that does not ask for deposits and work on a completion payment schedule. None.

That is the same for any supply company that manufactures materials. From roof trusses to new kitchen cabinetry.

A signed contract with deposits and a schedule protects both parties. The Contractor is paid. And the home owner has a clear and concise record of what is to be done and what it is going to cost. And using a schedule, both parties sign at different stages of completion. That would have been very handy for Vi to have had these records. To use in court against the contractor that has let here down. This is cut and dry, clear evidence that is great in court.

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Date/Time4/1/2013 at 9:56:35 AM

Hi,

I understand your concern and as a member of the construction industry, this type of behaviour is detrimental to the dozens of reputable contractors in the business.

Suggestions as follows:

1. Document all information, start date, when he left, what work was done, what materials left on site etc. Also document all conversations and keep all written material (start keeping a detailed file).

2. Considering your situation, I would call and report the threat to the police. I do not think the threat was serious, it was probably frustration and a means of trying to stop you from causing him trouble, however it is probably better that it is on the record.

3. Call the alarm company, explain the situation and get the alarm fixed. Most will respond very quickly if you tell them your concerns. Be factual.

4. Send a written message to the contractor outlining your concerns, what you expect, what the agreement states etc. Be completely factual, leave emotions out of the discussion. If some of the challenges are on your end (slow with draws, not making decisions etc.) admit to them and lay them out. Give the contractor a deadline to get back to you to resolve the challenges. Not too much time, but enough to respond. Do not make threats, do not advise him of you next steps. I would suggest that you advise him that you reported the threat that was made to the police.

5. Call the local website and inquire about the local contractor. Find out if they have a forum for reporting issues with a member. Follow up on this if they do.

6. If the contractor does not respond, call WSIB, BBB and any other organizations that he is a member of and report (again, without emotion, completely factual) the situation. In most cases this is not going to get the basement finished, however it may turn the heat up enough that you get a resolution.

7. I would also strongly suggest that you not have telephone conversations with the contractor or if you do, follow up with an e-mail detailing what was said.

8. if you do get a resolution, consider getting someone else to finish the job. Do you really want this person back in your home?

Mark

Timberidge Carpentry.

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Date/Time4/1/2013 at 10:38:19 AM

Follow this Procedure-It Works

Filing a Complaint - >If you are not satisfied with a product or service or if you believe a business has wronged you, you can take action to protect your consumer rights.

Here are the steps you will need to follow:

1. )Review your rights - Determine if you have a valid complaint under the Consumer Protection Act, 2002 (CPA). If you have questions about your rights you may contact the Consumer Protection Branch at 416-326-8800 or 1-800-889-9768 or 1-877-666-6545.

2.)Write a complaint letter to the business ->Consumers must always write a complaint letter to the business before the Ministry can get involved in a dispute. This is the Ministry's policy. It may also effectively solve your problem. The Ministry has a template letter you can customize and send to the business There is also a special Ministry notice you can attach to your letter. Remember to give businesses enough time to process your complaint (about three weeks)

In some cases, you may also be able to cancel certain contracts.

3.)Submit your complaint - >If writing to the business still does not resolve the issue, you may file a complaint against them with us. You cannot make a formal complaint by phone or e-mail. You must complete the Ministry's complaint form. You can submit your complaint online or complete a complaint form and sent it by mail, fax or e-mail. You may also request that a complaint form be mailed to you. Include any supporting documentation, such as contracts, invoices, receipts or copies of correspondence between you and the supplier.

Ministry of Consumer Services

Consumer Protection Branch

5775 Yonge St. Suite 1500 Toronto, ON M7A 2E5

Fax: 416-326-8665 E-mail: consumer@ontario.ca

How the Ministry Helps - >Once your complaint form and documents have been provided, we will:

Advise you about your rights under the CPA. If your complaint is not covered by the CPA, we will do our best to help you find an organization or government office that can assist you Provide you with tools, e.g., a notification of a consumer complaint letter, that can help you resolve the dispute

Keep a record of your complaint and monitor the business to track patterns in marketplace abuse. In certain cases, we may consider taking enforcement action against a supplier

Inform you about the Small Claims Court process and how to access legal advice etc..

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Date/Time4/30/2013 at 11:00:42 AM

Hi,

I think there are a very great helping ideas here and would like to add is that take as many pictures as possible with date and time because in any course of action if you do some work, finish your basement and then on later date if you want to prove that it was left in x condition then the pictures or even walk through video would be of great help and that can be used as reference document.

Police complaint is a must if he has given a threat, Fix your alarm system after proper documantation, also if its your property look for lien on property as that could be other harresment and you would come to know when you are selling your home in future.

Dont feel you are alone there is always help available you have to ask to right people.

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Nic in Puslinch
Date/Time7/31/2013 at 9:38:24 AM

Comment to Norman from Around The Home Handyman Services:

The BBB and the MGS has nothing to go on IF the Contractor refuse to respond to the complaint, ergo the complaint will be closed, unresolved. That's my experience dealing with a Contractor in Hamilton, ON.

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