Reno nightmare3

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Posted by: from Surrey
11/13/2010 at 1:51:58 PM


So we're stuck in the middle of a mess. We hired a contractor through this site, and the job has been a nightmare. The 1 month estimated duration has become 3 months. Most of the money has been paid, but most of the job is unfinished. A subcontractor has put a lien on our house and now served us for double the lien amount. The project has now completely stalled leaving our house exposed to the elements (as it has been for 3 montths now).

We did all the right things. Interviewed multiple contractors, seen this guy's office, previous work, and spoken to a client, checked BBB. We didn't go with the cheapest.

Now we possibly gotta find someone else to finish the job. We realize this is a tricky thing for multiple reasons, but our biggest worry is "how do we find a contractor who is reliable this time around", because frankly, you simply can't tell.

Does anyone have *any* wisdom to share?

I thank anyone in advance....

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Lisa in Toronto
Date/Time11/15/2010 at 10:50:15 PM

Hi, sounds like a scary thought, I"m in progress of trying to find a contractor as well. Can you share the name of the company you went with originally so we don't end up in the same state. Once I find a good one (which I hope too) I'll be sure to let you know. Good Luck!

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Date/Time11/30/2010 at 10:36:21 AM

Hi Kaj- sorry to hear about your luck. Not all contractors are like this guy- he should not even have the balls to call himself a contractor. I have been in the reno biz for over 30 years, and in the last 10 have seen some pretty shady stuff going on out there. Couple of things- seeing his office tells you nothing about the person, his 'clients' may have been relatives, his previous work may have been done by someone else (with talent, perhaps?) & the BBB is a joke. All my work comes from word of mouth- I have no need or desire to advertise- my clients do it for me. 1 Thing that has kept me busy is the fact that I am honest with ALL clients & should there ever be a problem, no matter how small, I ALWAYS go back. Ask around- someone out there has a 'favourite' contractor I'm sure they are willing to share. It may help if you dole out small projects to guys you interview, don't hint at more work, just see how they do. If yiou are happy withy them, give them something larger- sometimes contractors take on more than they can handle & before they know it- they are knee deep in shit & don't know how to get out- so they just keep on going. Remember- if you hire anyone to work on your property with a signed contract or not- and you hear the warning bells going off in your head- shut it down right away. By allowing things to progress will only add to the misery and the costs will begin to skyrocket. Hope this helps a little.

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Kaj in Surrey
Date/Time11/30/2010 at 12:30:37 PM

Hi Bill,

Thanks for your insights - we did most you suggested. The previous job was near finished and we did speak to the owner, so we know it was his job. Could have been a relative but I don't think so. We tried asking around but nothing came up (except some warning), We did give a small job to another contractor and he did great, we were just unsure he could do the larger job, and, frankly were swayed by the stories of the larger contractor. Needless to say 99% of what he said turned out to be untrue. We considered pulling out, but we were afraid it would constitute breach of contract, we were still hoping it would get finished, and we did pay more already than the work justified, especially since the subcontractor ended up not being paid for work we already paid for. We'll have to see how it all pans out, lawyers are looking into it. I will try more asking around for someone to finish the job. Again, thanks - your comments are appreciated.

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Kaj in Surrey
Date/Time11/30/2010 at 12:32:42 PM


As of yet I'd prefer not to post those details because of the legal process. Seeing that you are in Toronto I'd say you won't have to worry about this one though.

Be very careful though. If your gut feeling tells you something is wrong, it likely is :o(

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Paul from Paul's Contracting in Barrie
Date/Time11/30/2010 at 8:38:24 PM

It is sad to hear about your dilemma, and though my saying it is a common experience offers little comfort right now, you're not alone. We spend most of our time educating clients on what to look for, ask about, and ask for when dealing with other contractors tendering against us. Your due diligence would have flushed out most would-be problem renovators, leaving little left other than asking for a current copy of their WSIB certificate, and liability insurance policy confirmation. You can call the contact numbers on these certificates to see if their premiums are paid up to date (or ask if their coverage is active / current). If a contractor is reluctant to provide these it is a red flag. If they are running behind in their premiums it could be an indication of cash flow problems in the business. Sounds like your contractor may have had cash flow issues, and has used your deposits etc to finish other projects he was running behind on and now maybe can't afford to continue on yours. I don't know the answer to your current issues other than not all contractors are villains out there. There are still a few that work hard, stand behind their work when things may have hiccups, and will answer their phones when they ring (another good test). I always wince a little when I hear about a contractor who says they can do "Anything". Nobody can do everything well. There are specialized tools for most trades which are not cheap. There are continually new product innovations and building techniques that need to be learned by all, and if contractors advise against using building and electrical permits then they are expressing they have something to hide either in their experience or knowledge of doing a proper job. Sometimes knowing that they have staff on payroll (not just subcontractors) may help. It is expensive to hire staff and stronger contractors will do just that to control their level of quality. Be on the look out for a contractor that can start "right away". Why is it they are not already working? Most well healed contractors are booked 3 months out and you will have to wait for them.

I encourage you to post your comments on this website to warn other people, which is a great arms length reporting tool for consumers.

Take care


Paul Counter


Paul's Contracting

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Date/Time1/26/2011 at 11:53:44 PM

Hi Kaj

I am in chilliwack and work up that way quite a bit if you would like an opinion sight on seeing i would be glad to look and voice alternatives to your issues with the renovation send me an email if this would interest you as there is no charge for opinions and quotes as it is my job and i love what i do

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Date/Time2/7/2011 at 3:50:26 AM

Hi Kaj

Sorry to hear about your delema and the problem that has occured at your job, But what I am is a contractor that has his own crew it has been the same guys for 15yrs now so you don't have to worry about different sub-trades in your house that you don't know. I am always there so that piece of mind is there, and if there was any problems you can always count on me being there to solve your problem. If you want a reliable contractor to finish your present job i will be there for you and as far as the money paid out we can work something out. As for the sub-trade that put a lien against your house we can asset the job and if he did anything wrong structurally we can go after him for damages.

Thanks and Goodluck

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Brant Garage Door Systems in Brantford
Date/Time2/21/2011 at 8:44:40 AM


Robert Armes here from Brant Garage Door Systems in Ontario, I'm just starting with this site, looks really good, but I feel very bad about your situation, this type of thing should not happen. I think the contracting community should organize its'self country wide and have strict industry standards of conduct. This contractor should get the boot and be made to pay! Like wise maybe there are some local guys down that way that could voluteer their service and help these people out of this mess and get this job finished, this is a family in need guys and it reflecks poorly on our industry.

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Date/Time4/12/2011 at 11:56:30 AM

Hi Kaj,

I know I am a few months into this post, but I would love to hear the outcome of your sad story. As others have mentioned on here, I hope you had the contractor finish what he started. There are far too many contractors that will fold up the tent and leave when the money stops flowing in. If this contractor was unable to properly assess the job, or even if things didn't go the way they should have, he should still finish what he started. In this business it only takes one bad job to ruin your reputation, and sometimes swallowing your pride, admitting a mistake was made and working to fix the problem is a far better way then leaving someone out in the cold.

Just a message to other contractors who are reading this. you can always recoup a few lost dollars, but you can't get back lost clients, and a bad reputation takes forever to repair. Please don't leave people like Kaj out in the cold if you misquoted a job. Do the right thing and fix it.

I really hope your experience has worked out for the best Kaj.

Bill Clawsie

Clawsie Contracting


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N0 in Victoria
Date/Time5/16/2011 at 8:38:48 PM

Can anyone reccommend an honest and reliable carpenter in Victoria?

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Date/Time5/18/2011 at 10:28:36 PM

Very bad news to hear Kaj! Being a contractor I have heard my share of horror stories like yours. But as you say if you have any kind of uneasy feeling about a certain contractor or it sounds to good to be true it probably a good idea to find someone else. Being in the business I always look after my customers and make sure they are happy. They can be assured that if contacted I will come back if there is a problem with my work. Sorry to say guys like that you have there make it hard for the honest contractors out there to be trusted. I hope you get your job completed and the guy gets what he deserves. Good luck!

Brent Smith

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Kaj in Surrey
Date/Time5/18/2011 at 10:44:39 PM

I guess eventually we'll have to get the job completed. The contractor has disappeared and we have spent about 5-10.000 in damage control (mind you, not to finish it, just to make it livable again). We're still short a balcony railing that was supposed to be spraypainted, we have a sundeck that is inaccessible because the doors were never placed in the wall and the deck was designed wrong so the doors won't fit. We found out that no workers were paid, no subcontractors were paid, work that was done needs to be redone (is worse than it was before). He replaced garage door openers that he damaged and didn't pay for that. We have about 5000-7000 in water damage because of the stalling during the rainy season and black mold to boot. The lien that was placed has turned into a claim for triple its original amount. This was all done on a second mortgage after very careful deliberation and our future has been seriously screwed for years to come.

We didn't know you could get screwed that bad.


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Date/Time5/22/2011 at 12:19:42 PM

Well Kaj wish I could help you out but I don't work in Ontario. Keep me posted on here if you wouldn't mind as to how this unfolds for you. I will attempt to help in anyway I can. Best of luck!

Brent Smith

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Date/Time5/22/2011 at 12:25:20 PM

By the way Kaj, have you thought of contacting Mike Holmes up there to see if he possibly could help you out? That is right up his alley. Just a thought.

Brent smith

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Date/Time10/6/2011 at 11:48:18 AM

Have you tried calling Bryan Baeumler? He's a Handy Canadian!!!


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Kaj in Surrey
Date/Time10/6/2011 at 1:06:12 PM

Many people suggested contacting Mike Holmes but he operates out east, so that wouldn't be of any help. I assume the same holds for Bryan :(

It's a bit of a shame, our live revolves around animal rescue (how many people do you know where the master bedroom is the foster cat room, or where the balcony needed to be remodeled so the foster cats can go outside?...they currently still can't because our balcony is still not fixed, we're out of money so have to get things done (or do things ourselves) bit by bit) so we'd actually make a nice story. This house was purchased because it was so suitable for the animals, but so far has not brought much joy.

Rumour has it the contractor is still (or again) in business, I have yet to find out if that's true. He hasn't responded to any calls or anything of course. He still owes us a lot of money and/or work, not to mention the construction faults, damage incurred, fix-up cost, lawyer fees.


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