What legal actions can contractor take if invoice is not paid?

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Posted by: from Brampton
5/16/2015 at 1:43:38 PM

We hired a contractor and had terrible experience working with him. His quote was to make our basement for $31000+HST and also told he can do $30000 cash (he will buy all material and also pay his guys in cash) which we agreed to but now we have dispute with him because the flooring he did was terrible, which he claims happened because we flooded our basement (No one is even living down there and there is not a single drop of water on laminate) and he already knew that flooring was crappy from day 1 but he kept on saying it will be alright after some time. We will have to hire another contractor to fix the flooring he did.

After all his work was done and we paid him $30000 cash (even though we don't like the flooring).

Few weeks later flooring started getting worse so I left a bad review of our experience with this contractor and next day I got email from him with 2 invoices.

1. For 32000+HST and says I still own him $5030

2. For extra's which he never mentioned about it any time during or after his work and says I still own him $3000 on extras for his service and material for basement.

If I don't pay $8030 within a week he will go ahead and take legal action against us. Note: We both have never signed any contract or invoice.

1. Could someone help me with what kind of legal action can he do?

2. Should I hire a construction lawyer?

3. Is the invoice even valid?


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Date/Time5/16/2015 at 4:06:31 PM

They usually put a lean on the invoice; however, since you have not signed any documents, it will be hard for them to move forward with it.

Keep in mind that for cases lower than $50,000, no one cna bring the case to the court (is not worth it).

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Date/Time5/16/2015 at 4:15:59 PM

This is a dispute of he said she said. If you have proof via any paper trail or cash receipts he gave u for your money that will help. If not you may have problems defending Any and all agreements. If you need a proper floor done and the one ripped out your going to have to remove baseboards as well. If his work was so terrible you should have stopped him hired a proper contractor and then you would have recourse against him. Since u paid the 30k in full it is an admission of satisfactory work.

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Date/Time5/16/2015 at 4:38:31 PM

Hi Ravi,

I'm very sorry to hear of your experience with this contractor. Paying cash has no benifit to companies who carry wsib, and hst to pay. If you paid cash, there still should of been some kind of contract written up indicating his responsiblities in this project. But as a homeowner paying for a service that you didnt recieve is proof enough to threaten him back with legal actions, and tell him to feel free to take you to court, so you can show his poor workmanship, and have your day in court. I would sue him for the fees (cost) to make good on all areas that your not satisfied in.

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Date/Time5/16/2015 at 7:16:45 PM


Lesson learned. A major project, such as a basement, should have a contract. The primary reason is that there are so many variables. The type (quality) of lumber, the type of underlay, the quality of the flooring, levelling prior to installation of the flooring, antd the list goes on. A good contract should specify each step and can be open to some discussion about quality, colour, texture, etc. but that should also be added to an amended supplement to the contract ... and signed by both parties.

Legal action may be an ption but as was mentioned it's one of those he said ... she said... and who is correct. You should continue to contact the contractor and insist in the corrections being made, call the Better Business Bureau (that doesn't do much but it's a black mark against the contractor) and even contact a lawyer for some advice (often free).

Sorry to hear about your situation but sometimes saving a few dollars just isn't worth the end result.

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Mark from CMJ Renovations in Oakville
Date/Time5/17/2015 at 8:28:21 AM

Hello Ravi,

I would call his bluff. There are several issues here. Was there a permit pulled with the city? Who did the electrical? Was there an ESA permit? Ask him to provide proof especially of the Electrical permit as it was to be done by a certified electrician. If it wasn't your home insurance can be null and void if you have future issues. I wouldn't pay him a dime and insist he replaces the floor or you will be taking legal action. Also ask him for a list of the people and trades he had in your home. The end result is you probably will have to hire someone to come and fix your floor. The good news is you probably will never hear from him again.

I'm always frustrated when I hear of people paying cash to save a couple of thousand dollars. At the end of the day they save nothing because they have no warranty to fall back on when something major goes wrong.

Good Luck and keep us posted.

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Ravi in Brampton
Date/Time5/17/2015 at 9:04:37 AM

Thank everyone for the reply.

We got ESA permit from him but he never provided any receipt. I believe in his invoice he has covered all his basics but it's an unsigned invoice.( permit is responsibility of home owner).

Still confuse if invoice with extra is even valid? Because he never told us about any extra cost.

Can someone recommend any good lawyer for this kind of situation.

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James from Odd Job James in Scarborough
Date/Time5/17/2015 at 10:13:41 AM


Sorry to hear - hopefully lesson learned.

Without a proper paper trail he will not be able to register a lien or sue you unless he forges documents. Then you charge him with fraud.

Save your money on the lawyer unless you are notified of any course of action from him. Call the ESA and ensure that he has fulfilled his responsibilities as far as inspections and quality of work. This is critical for the safety of your home and family.

No one likes paying taxes. While it's never a good idea to try to eliminate the tax man, if you ever do so again in the future, still insist on a contract. Get EVERYTHING in writing, sign all documents, initial every page and make sure you both get copies. Every payment should be invoiced and signed that it was received.

Doing business with contractors that PROPERLY conduct their business may seem to cost more up front, but you WILL save money in the long run when you don't have to re-renovate to fix mistakes.

Good luck and don't worry. He's trying to scare you into paying him more money. Stand your ground, find someone reputable and get your floor fixed.


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Date/Time5/17/2015 at 1:20:11 PM

There is legal presidence for this exact thing in Ontario already. You do not require a lawyer. The last time this was taken to court it was thrown out and I will explain why;

What you did is engage in an illegal activity, you paid cash and the contractor agreed to accept cash so that you didn't have to pay tax. That is illegal in the Province of Ontario. That means that nothing about what the contractor did or what you did can be held up in court. He can't sue you and you have no rights to sue him for anything.

Frankly on a personal note your lucky this is all that is wrong, you get what you pay for.

So don't pay the guy, he can't sue you. There is legal presidence already for this.

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Date/Time9/24/2015 at 7:39:54 PM

last guy right you hired a hack who wanted cash...this is illegal in Canada so screw em...he will be in bigger trouble if he pursues this....but I have a pet peeve with clients like hire these cheap hacks cause they were the cheapest them whine when you get ripped off this just ticks me....a basement runs $40-60,000 min. in Canada to do it right and as a top end pro I am sick of people calling me with a $20,000 budget to do a full basement development or losing bids to "chuck with a truck" for the crap job they end up with

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Date/Time11/20/2015 at 5:51:49 PM

Hi Ravi,

There are a few contractors that have mentioned earlier that doing cash business is illegal so understand that you BOTH are at fault.

Knowing that and Moving on you are interested to know can he sue you? He will get a lawyer who would take his free money write up a notice and threaten you for lien etc. You just keep quiet DO NOT reply, as soon as you reply it establish that you had hired him.

Did he text or send emails where you have replied etc. then there is proof of both people in crime, Pay cash and receive cash both are at fault.

Take all pictures of the defects of the work done.


Think you are lucky that he has at least finish your work (good or Bad) there are people who have been scammed paid cash deposit and contractor did not show up. Total loss. What you would do in that case??

I tell my clients that if you have found a good and reliable contractor keep them for life like a Doctor or a lawyer its difficult to find a Honest, Reliable and fair price contractor, who delivers on time, within budget, and with peace of mind.

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Date/Time1/30/2016 at 12:25:39 PM

I would call his bluff, especially if there isn't a signed contract. Without a contract, a judge would throw the case out. Even with a contract, if the work was not done up to standard, the contractor could be liable. I would suggest that you state a strong "NO" and if there is a follow-up from him, have him put everything in writing ... so that you can take legal action against him for the extra cost you incurred by having to have the job re-done. Sorry to hear about this situation.

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Date/Time7/10/2016 at 7:38:28 PM

Hi Ravi,

Sorry to hear. We think we tried to contact you about your basement. Anyway the contractor has only 45 days after a deficiency list has been signed off upon to put a lien on a house.

The thing with Lien's is that it needs to be done right. Otherwise it will cost a lot of money to fix.

Small claims court Is your next bet, but the other side can drag it out for up to 2 years before going to trial or simply shutting up shop and disappearing.

As for the extras, possession is 9/10th's of the law so if he bought extra material did extra work then he should have gotten the money off you before he started.

As the extra work and material is in your house you are the home owner of those belongings.

Ask a kitchen company that's why they ask the remaining balance paid on delivery.

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