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bad contractor

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Posted by: from Markham
1/5/2009 at 1:13:06 PM

Last Oct. 2008, we hired a contractor to finish our basement. He is an aqcuaintance of one of our family friend. We trusted our basement to him and our interior home painting. Eventually, we got inspected by the town and his plumbing work did not pass inspection. His interior home painting job is halfway done and we have already paid him 70% of everything. His fee is only for labour and we provide the materials. I have already spent a fortune for alll the materials which are sitting in the basement including subfloors, baseboard and laminates. He has put up dry wall but no floors and painting done yet. The worst part is the plumbing for the washroom. His work for the plumbing needs to be redone since it did not pass inspection and wants us to hire another plumber to do the job. Our contracts includes plumbing as well. Apparently, he does not have a license for plubling. My husband and I are so stressed out and financially drained because of this. Is it a good idea to take him to court? Pls. help!!!!

REPLIES (13)
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Date/Time1/5/2009 at 5:10:22 PM

Hello Joanne

I am so sorry to hear about your expereince with this Contractor. I've been in business for over 35 years and your story is familar which paints an obscure picture for many Contractors that are legitimate and try to appease the customers wishes and stick to a budget and a time line.

I would receommend that you draft a letter to the Contractor and bring him up to date with your concerns reminding him of the responsibility you have entrusted him with.

I would send the letter registered and keep a copy. Take your time to list your complaints of what was agreed to in your agreement (or contract)and what has not been adhered to.

The other thing I would do immediately is" stop" any further payments until the contract is ammended to reflect the work that is left to do and when it will be done

Alternatively ( in case the Contractor abandons the work) it may be in your best interest to research another Contractor to complete the work and up to $10K ( I think its the limit now not sure) you could take this Contractor to small claims court. The most desperate of moves is to involve a lawyer and I would only recommend that in the most desperate situation as this will clearly upset the balance sheet and at the end of the day may or may not produce results.

The hiring of another Contractor/ Consultant could prove helpful if the Contractor you have is agreeable to work with another Contractor/ Consultant in a resolve to your siutation.

It is always better ( in my opinion) to work out a resolve to a dispute like this between all parties through a mediator or the parties involved as opposed to a legal avenue.

As this so called recession worsens more people will be subject to these types of situations as everyone out of a job will become a Contractor but there are very few good ones left I'm afraid and even getting harder to find.

Feel free to contact me anytime at (no charge nor one expected) if you have any more questions.

Sincerely,

John Holgate

General Manager

Aline General Contractors Ltd.

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Abba's Service in Huntsville
Date/Time1/6/2009 at 3:41:11 PM

Hi I was just reading the comments and there is a couple of things you should know. the first thing is you said this was just for labor more and more home owners are trying the same things everyday. If he provided you with the labor you might not get anything back. If he said he was going to do this and that and you agreed to pay so much and he did what was said you will be out of luck! Even if it was done wrong. Example is if you knew he didn't have a plumbers license and you used him for it anyway that is your fault. I can't see a judge ruling in your favor. I personally have dealt with a lot of problems other companies have created and it is hard to get your money back through any court system. If the job he said is more than 95% completed the job will not be refunded in anyway. Your best advice would be to try and deal with him to come to a conclusion. If he is unwilling to refund that part of the job take him to court for that part of the job. Call another contractor to redo the work that is necessary . In most cases good contractors will tell you to redo the whole job. Why? If a contractor finishes another contractors ob then he now becomes liable for the whole job. There is a good reason that could contractors carry good insurance. Mine is about $2,000 000. If you do the whole job over Then the contractor that did this can tell a judge on your behalf evrything had to be redone and he can even wright a letter for you. He may even come to court for you. I have done this more than once and it is really all in the wording. The other problem is that if the so called contractor has no insurance you will be spending a lot of time and money for nothing. If he does have insurance then you should get a estimate to fix all the problems and file it with them all in all you would need to fire the contractor verbally and in writing. You must also give him reasonable amount of time to comply. State that this job needs to rectified in 2 weeks notice. This also shows a judge that you tried to reconcile and would work in your favor. Deliver the letter personally. If there is no answer in 2 weeks you will be free of obligation and you could hire a different contractor. My name is Michael Keel from Abba's Service

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Colleen in Surrey
Date/Time1/17/2009 at 12:30:31 AM

I agree with Mr. Keel. I work with only insured people. I work with people who are qualified that I trust. These days you must check out people & products. I do not recommend anything or anyone to a client that I have not checked out. They must be insured. Plus guarantee their work. Regardless I still take lots of detail photos.

Also my clients do not usually purchase, I am not going to guarantee my Venetian Plaster for example if the client buys a product I know is inferior, since I am an expert I know the cheap version is Faux Venetian Plaster my client won't. Plus I get Designer Discounts & have Wholesalers. My clients would pay retail. I put everything in writing. I present all info & my client must email or confirm before I order floor, carpet, art , furniture etc. Or book anything. This is for my clients & my protection.

A judge will ask how & if you check this person out.

Did you check to see if he was a licensed plumber.

If not , not much he can do. You can take him to small claims but a lot of work & time so be prepared.

Colleen Farquhar,

Skystone Decorating & Design

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Brad Ivany in Georgetown
Date/Time1/17/2009 at 11:39:49 PM

I totally agree with Colleen here and I have to say in conclusion that if you as the customer are looking to hire a contractor for any job big or small, you should always do your homework first. It`s your responsibility to conduct a referral check, references as well as visually inspecting some of his/her previous work if possible and make sure you are clear about what you want and or do not want, time lines and all other concerns. Put it on paper, ask questions and get clear answers. Find out by communicating with the contractor face to face, paying attention to his/her responses can give you a good idea weather or not he feels comfortable with all the details at hand. I`m guessing that when a contractor wants to supply only labor and not material it may mean low cash flow which is not all bad but if you as the customer are supplying all the materials then why would you have paid the contractor as much as 70% of the contract without having the equal amount of work completed and within the time lines outlined?

My advise is to simply bring the contractor back to the bargaining table, let him know your thoughts and ideas and try to work out a viable solution so that you both win. Courts and lawyers are exactly what you do not want to deal with because you will simply be poorer and more frustrated. Knowledge is power i`m sure you`ve heard. Good luck with that Joanne. I hope it all worked out. Take care.

Brad K. Ivany

TRADESMEN CONTRACTING

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Brad Ivany in Georgetown
Date/Time1/17/2009 at 11:39:49 PM

I totally agree with Colleen here and I have to say in conclusion that if you as the customer are looking to hire a contractor for any job big or small, you should always do your homework first. It`s your responsibility to conduct a referral check, references as well as visually inspecting some of his/her previous work if possible and make sure you are clear about what you want and or do not want, time lines and all other concerns. Put it on paper, ask questions and get clear answers. Find out by communicating with the contractor face to face, paying attention to his/her responses can give you a good idea weather or not he feels comfortable with all the details at hand. I`m guessing that when a contractor wants to supply only labor and not material it may mean low cash flow which is not all bad but if you as the customer are supplying all the materials then why would you have paid the contractor as much as 70% of the contract without having the equal amount of work completed and within the time lines outlined?

My advise is to simply bring the contractor back to the bargaining table, let him know your thoughts and ideas and try to work out a viable solution so that you both win. Courts and lawyers are exactly what you do not want to deal with because you will simply be poorer and more frustrated. Knowledge is power i`m sure you`ve heard. Good luck with that Joanne. I hope it all worked out. Take care.

Brad K. Ivany

TRADESMEN CONTRACTING

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Abba's Service in Huntsville
Date/Time1/18/2009 at 2:14:52 PM

Customers need to wake up and start paying contractors what they are worth. Most contractors if are payed there asking price will 9-10 times give the customer exactly what the wish. I have been around since 1991 and I start as a sub-contractor for consumers gas in T.O and then a sub-contractor Sear's My business has grown into a full service home renovation company and I have dealt with customers just wanting to pay labor on more than one occasion. Most times It don't work for me because the customer will cheap out in certain area's of the home and I will not install cheap products. We have built our business on Quality and we have 5 websites that tell customers that. I pass on every job that say's labor only! How do people think they can better deal if they give you nothing to work with. I will give you an example. I had a customer in Grimsby Ontario and he needed his bathroom done. The job would have cost him about $12000 but e could only afford $8000.00 ok something I could work with. This is not a guy with money this is a guy who works hard for every penny he gets. I did the job for 8. I even did better than that instead of ceramic i gave him marble. He needed a break so I gave him the best. It was not that bad for me because I got a deal on the marble anyway. But he will be a life long customer and I ran into him and he never stops thanking me. So if this message is being read by some home Owner. Pay us what we deserve don't be cheap don't try and rip us off. You will be more happy that you hired a great contractor that will stand by everything they said they would do and 9-10 times they will always give you a little more. .

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Date/Time1/20/2009 at 7:19:39 PM

Hello All,

I have read the postings and the main problem, the reality here is that Joanne hired somewhat a family friend!!!! Now that the person has done what he could and most likely the issue is that there was no permit taken out, and once the city found the wrong work done, it now has become a bad contractor!! Yes he should not tackle the work he is not licensec for but at the same time, customers need to pay for what they expect. We have talked about this on other postings on this site. I bet if the city never came around to check, this would have never come to light.. Lets face it folks thats the problem. But I do feel for Joanne and her husband.

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Date/Time1/21/2009 at 9:17:56 AM

I'd like to add one thing to this post: this guy may have been a friend of the family or a friend of a friend of a friend, it does not really matter because if he made Joanne feel comfortable with his doing the work, then whats done is done. In these tough economic times we find ourselves in, Joanne had a budget, her contractor made her feel she had made a right choice, heck, he was almost family, so she chose him. It was not until things went south that the trouble started. This contractor was inexperienced & Joanne now has to pay for it. Had he subbed the plumbing things may have turned out a little better, but it sounds as if he were just the wrong choice from the get go. As far as the friend/family thing when it comes to renovations- REALLY bad idea. I have seen many of these end badly, & have cleaned a few of them up.

We always stress highly on this site the value of checking out the contractor who will invade your space for some time, and with the way things are going, that becomes even more important today. People are entrusting contractors to build/renovate their dream home, and to often lately the dreams are becoming nightmares. With this now before her, Joanne is very likely to never need or want the services of a contractor again.

Best of luck to you Joanne.

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Date/Time2/2/2009 at 6:56:57 PM

You may be pissed off but you're missing the whole point- check out your contractor! Thats what we are trying to get people to do before they end up in a nightmare, like small claims court. And you are right- good luck on collecting if you do win in court. If you hire a fly-by-night company to work on your home because they can save you money, you may as well just withdraw all your money from the bank & burn it before they even start.

Read these posts- they tell you how to find a contractor- what to look for, what to ask, what is required for your project, how long in business, can they do the work required in a timely manner, are they insured/licensed, can you see other work they have done, etc.

Once you find a good contractor hold onto him because they are getting scarce- a lot of the older ones are retiring and a lot of the newer ones are a bunch of hot-doggers that think they know it all when it takes years&years to learn.

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Abba's Service in Huntsville
Date/Time2/10/2009 at 10:41:16 AM

Good post bill I agree with you! It is true that a lot of contractors are moving to retirement and it is true that there is a lot of new ones starting. In bad times of lay-offs contractors are have tough times even booking small jobs. I just finished a job that i lost in the first place because of price. The other contractor and a few more had given this lady a price that was fare below what the job was supposed to cost. They contractors even came from this site. No names! Just shame on you. The lady told me that I was to expensive and then she ended up with me anyway. I quoted here $56,000 They quoted her $36,000 big difference. I asked her why she did not use me in the first place she everybody else was less then me. It cost her $20,000 for me to finish. They did do everything right it was they did not finish the job! When there $36,000 ran out they stopped work and did not even call her. I seen all the estimates from all the companies. They put in $25,000 in materials in that house and didn't wish to finish the job. They did not want to ask for more money. The lady asked me what she could do and I told her the truth the average is double the material and you got more than double. She ask me to lie for her and I told her no! I will not help people that wish to cheap-out in the first place. In this case I felt sorry for the lady. Contractor's should give clients the bottom line from the beginning. If it is a little more I do understand. If it less I do understand. If contractors are just throwing them a cheap figure out there and i talking about 5 of them. Just to get the jobs shame on you. I tell my clients I will match any reasonable estimate. As for Joanne I am sorry for what has happened to you but the old saying is you get what you pay for! Always been that way and always will be! You can do all the checking you wish and you can use a friend of the family if you wish but i have heard worse stories about things that way. Some times the person that is a friend of the family is just the average do it yourself person that is just trying to make some money on the side. NO insurance and no license! If a contractor is willing to send you his liability insurance info let him do so. Make a copy and keep it for your records. If you have a problem call him first and try and work things out. If that does not work call his insurance company. He will fix things a lot faster if he is going to loose out in the long run. I have been blessed by never having to fill a claim ever but I still tell clients they should check me out as well. Do i have the license yes am I insured yes. The only problem that we have is that the cheap contractors give cheap prices! Or good contractor give a cheap price just to get a job knowing that they will ask for more money latter. We give estimates for a completed job and never ask for more. If it costs more then I pay the difference. I guess that is bad for me sometimes but that is my way of doing business and I guess I am old fashioned. Maybe I should retire because it is starting to be a real hassle trying to get through to customers these day's. Sure we have great clients and they will not use other contractor's but it's the new ones that are getting under my skin. They expect something for nothing and I mean nothing! Take care guy's talk latter.

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Date/Time2/12/2009 at 7:41:28 AM

Hey Michael- if you retire, promise me you'll keep on posting on here- it's refreshing to hear someone 'tell it like it is'. I get more & more pissed with the number of new 'contractors' on the street, but all I can do is warn people of the hazards they face if they want to 'cheap out'. Its the new reality. It will take a while to get over this hump & get things back the way they were, and hopefully all the bad 'contractors' will be weeded out. Take care Michael

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Abba's Service in Huntsville
Date/Time2/15/2009 at 8:43:40 PM

Hey bill I will always be posting on this site even if I pass the business on to my kids. I will be involved in some way or another. In fact i was ranting and raving cause it does get under my skin a little. 9 out 10 times people choose cheaper and it is because they heard somebody else used them for another job so they think they will get the same. There is also a reason we write articles all over the internet. and we have 4 blogs and newspapers even pay me for the articles that I write. But people just don't ever listen and that is the bottom line. I can tell you that even Mike homes is not helping contractors. He say's a lot of great things. but what he should be doing is helping the good guy's a little more. If i do anything it will be moving to an area to slow down a little. Like Huntsville. I have my plan already and retirement will be a little to slow for me cottage life sounds good but I will go nuts!

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Pc in Toronto
Date/Time5/29/2010 at 11:38:32 AM

Beware of this contractor: Marius Cezar Renovator 416-880-9596. Marius Stoica (contractor) was opening a hole through my neighbour's brick wall to install a window. Since he had not installed any barriers to catch the falling brick, several bricks hit my home, one of the bricks cut the phone line. We called Bell Canada and were told the repair would be $99. He said he could fix it himself for a lot cheaper. I told him I didn't want him to fix it and that a proper expert, a Bell technician would do the work. Marius became very angry and said I was trying to rip him off. I told him he could be present the next day when the Bell technician arrived and he could hear for himself what the cost would be. The next day the technician arrived and told Marius the cost would be $99. He then proceeded to tell the technician to repair only half the wire, the part he had cut. I told me this was not his home and that the repair would be done the proper way as the technician wanted to do it. Marius then refused to pay for the damage. He said it was an accident and offered only $50, as he was "not paying for a 50 year oldn wire to be replaced". He was extremely arrogant and unreasonable to deal with. I would NEVER hire this man.

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