Contractor Woes

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7/9/2012 at 2:04:37 PM

I HIRED a contractor/company to do my driveway, walkway, and steps, pattern concrete and this has turned into a nightmare.

I gave him 15000.00 dollars so far, 5000.00 by check and the rest cash, he asked for it and stated we would save.

As the work progressed, he kept demanding money, so in total he received 15000.00 of the 25000.00 bill, contracts there are two, one for cash portion and the other is for the check portion.

I began to notice shoddy work being completed, I was constantly directing his attention to the poor work, and he kept saying it was fine, it would be fixed, my final installment - I put a stop payment and he began threatening me with leins and stated he was going to force me to sell my home, he is bullying me - I have repeatedly asked him to fix and redo the bad work- the steps are all different sizes, and the color is varied through out, it's a disaster filled with cracks everywhere, he refused to come out and is demanding 19000.00 now!

What do I do to protect myself. I don't want to sell my home and the work is really bad.

I have tried repeatedly to get him to come out but his messages are getting really nasty, he calls me a scammer and stated he will make me pay big time.

What can I do about the work done, I hate it, it's bad workmanship all the way around and he is dillusional.

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Date/Time7/9/2012 at 3:14:11 PM

Hi Emma,

I can understand your sitituation that your in I have a question did you sign a contract before the job started and did you check out any references that he has? It he is refusing to fix the problem then you go further.

He can't make you sell your house that's foolish, I haven't heard of that before. But he can only lien you before a period of 30 days I think.

But if I were you I would find a good lawyer who you can talk to and tell him your sitituation and I believe the first meeting is free.

Another thing is get a professional to fix the problems and bill the first contractor but I would advise you to talk to a lawyer first.

Hope you find this helpful. But I would not pay him no more money.

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Date/Time7/9/2012 at 3:38:30 PM

This is unacceptable.

Contractors are getting a bad name because of guys like this. DO NOT PAY ANY MORE MONEY OUT.

If you are feeling threatened call the police and report this. A lein on your house will prevent you from selling that is what it is for. Forcing you to sell your home is ridiculious. He will have to take you to claims court to get any more money, the judge will tell him to repair or replace the shotty work to win.

Get a few other contractors to come out and give you estimates to repair or replace his work.

Contracting is a business that is drivin by refererals, so tell all of your family and friends not to use this guy, so no one else gets takin for a ride.

Sorry to hear about your situation, we are never finished the job until the client is satisfied.

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Date/Time7/9/2012 at 3:48:51 PM

Hi Emma

1) If he puts a lien on the house its good only for 45 days and he HAS to follow with a law suit or it is getting dissolved by itself.

2)Tell him you are going to the better business bureau with a complaint, that should make him rethink his position.

3)Take pictures of the bad points and make sure the you take them from an angle that is self explained.

4)Get a home inspector to see it and he will tell you what is acceptable and what is not.

5)Talk to a lawyer about the money, you may have to pay it and then sue him for it and for damages.


Harry C.,

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James from Coey Stairs in Milton
Date/Time7/9/2012 at 4:04:35 PM

Sorry but chances are you have lost your $15k , dont pay another penny!!!

You probhably payed 10k cash to avoid paying hst so chances are your contractor does this all the time!

I would advise you to contact two people. First a lawyer to sue him and then Revenue Canada they love to here about contractors working for cash.

He will be the one to pay big time!!

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Date/Time7/9/2012 at 4:06:54 PM

This is an unfortunate situation.

There are however a few things you can do

1, File a claim in the Small Claims court against his company and him personally. This will not cost much but will force him to go on the defensive. You will have much greater influence on events then.

2. He has only 45 days from end of the job to file a lean and another 45 days to perfect it. If he fails to do so, he looses the right to lean.

3. Even if he puts a lean on your house, he will be forced to spend considerable sums of money for his lawyer to continue the action, without which the whole thing will not proceed. you can do almost nothing except closer to the Pre-Trail date, at wehich point you will need a lawyer. By that time he will laready have spend quiet alot of money on his.

4.The whole matter will probebly take a good 3 years to run its course, at the end of which you will make him an offer of one tenth of what he says you owes him and more then likely he will settle for an amount close to that. The fact is also that the Plaintiff will have to pay for the trial and although if you loose you wil incure the costs, hopefully the money that he will have to spend up front will deter him from going to trial and he will be more willing to accept your offer however low it might be.

Most contractors who threatten to lean a property have not themselves been through this process, there fore there is also a good possibility he will not even attempt the action.

Best of luck


Garden Hill Landscaping LTD

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Date/Time7/9/2012 at 4:08:36 PM


Guys like this makes it hard on the rest of us. I do stamped concrete and our rule is: If the customer isn't happy remove the concrete or don't collect the money, it's the customers choice. You have certain avenues to follow.

1 - Have 2-3 reputable concrete companies look at the work and determine if it is unacceptable.

2 - Sue for costs to redo what was done

3 - Demand proof of WSIB and Revenue Canada declaration of good standing plus liability coverage.

4 - Ask for proof materials have been paid for

Threatening a lien is just that it costs money, takes time and he has to prove that he is in the right.

You will not be forced to sell. Plus threats are illegal-- call the cops.

I hope this helps.


Don Thurston

DRT Enterprises Ltd.

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Date/Time7/9/2012 at 4:48:02 PM

Whenever anyone hires a contractor for any type of work, the homeowner should be aware of the number one red flag.....caSH!!!!!!! This usually means that the company is not reporting this as income. If this is the character of the business owner then there should be little surprise that the workmanship is of inferior quality.

Do you have a signed receipt for the $10,000.00? You can contact the BBB but these types don't usually belong to it. However, you can take him to Small Claims Court. Just make a visit to your nearest Small Claims Court and they will be happy to provide you with the information that you require....or you can go online for the information.

Homeowners should make sure that their contractors have WSIB, liability insurance and a Revenue Canada number. Always ask for several referrals. In this case, it would be easy to just do a drive by to see the workmanship from other customers.

You can report him to Revenue Canada. One of the best government incentives was the one from few years ago when the homeowner could get a rebate for home improvements if done by a legitimate contractor.

It is always discouraging to hear about homeowners in your situation. We are all losers with these guys running around out there!!! Good luck with this.


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Date/Time7/9/2012 at 5:25:09 PM


What you can do is document all your transactions, all media messages and prepare to defend yourself from a possible lawsuit. Unless he is just bluffing, You should also estimate the expense on repairs and sue the company instead.

Next time don,t agree to pay cash for any job, don't offer to pay cash to save money if that is the case,

Don,t try and avoid paying for HST for you won,t have anybody,s sympathy by 'cutting corners'.

Best regards

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Serge in Woodbridge
Date/Time7/9/2012 at 5:28:04 PM

You need to be carefull what you are doing here. What if he has done the job right? People need to be carefull when listening to an advise of a landscaping company or some other contractor. The problem here is that if a lien claim is handled properly he can indeed force you to sell your house. In fact your mortgagee will do it sooner that him.

There is also another liability. You are a trustee in the eyes of the law, which means you can not use money on the contract for anything else besides paying the contractor. You may end up in Small Claims Court with an ugly breach of trust claim to defend and no lawyer will take the case, because they can get virtually nothing in costs, and you are obviously not willing to pay more than the case is worth. This is not a speeding ticket.

Also keep in mind, that you have holdback obligations under Construction Lien Act. Keep in mind, that you can be hit with a lien claim not only from the contractor, but also from his subs and even workers (if you don't pay them). If any workers are represented by a trade union you can get a lien claim from the trade union.

Many hillbilly contractors (which most of them are) that went through the procedure once can say that a lawyer will cost a lien claimant a fortune. In fact a lien claimant does not need a lawyer. However the owner can end up with a 60K bill and lose. So if you owe them less than 20k just pay them and get rid of them. You will be better off than dealing with a claim in Superior Court.

From my experience, 70% of lien claims are valid. And every time the story is the same. People just don't want to pay and try to get away with made up deficiencies.

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Emma in Mississauga
Date/Time7/9/2012 at 7:13:27 PM

I just wanted to say that I appreciate all the responses I received on my problem, funny, cause the only response that seemed to think I will pay big..or which had the opposite of he normal response was from Wood bridge, Ontario, and that is where my contractor is from.

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Emma in Mississauga
Date/Time7/9/2012 at 7:14:35 PM

What happens to the 30% of complainants who have valid complaints,?

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Boris from Enchant Management in Calgary
Date/Time7/9/2012 at 7:34:49 PM

I'm sorry to be so direct about this but have people not heard tell of enough of this activity yet. We are licensed to take deposits by the Province of Alberta and post all of our licensing on our website.

-WE DO NOT TAKE MONEY UP FRONT. Anyone consumer reading this post listen to me now, do not give money up front for materials or any services that have not been rendered. I have never taken a deposit and some contractors won't like me saying this but if you need money up front you are not managing your cash flow. Companies that can not manage their cash flow have no business being in business.

-As soon as a contractor asks you for a deposit fro something other than a custom window order or wants cash payment.....RUN.

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Gaby from Amg Renovation in Hearst
Date/Time7/9/2012 at 9:48:15 PM

Hi Emma,

I was just wondering if the check was also made as cash, and was there a permit for your construction or renovation (Don`t think so) if I`m right on all those questions you can`t do anything about your situation (Sorry) he was not there that's what he will say, that means no lean on the house is possible ether, you can try to take a lawyer but he will probably ask the same questions I just asked you, in this case he win and its sad but you loose, don't give him (ANY MORE MONEY,,,,STOP) if he harasses you again just call the cops you will win this one once and for all, have to say this one is lost.

Like some said here ASK FOR REFERENCES, PICTURES AND YES I AGREE WITH NO MONEY DOWN that crazy, ya for a special order but that's it, And always get a PERMIT for your renovation this way the inspector will tell him if it passes or not, if not well you would have won in court 100%.

Again sorry for your stupid contractor and good luck if you proceed.

Gaby Lacroix

Certified Carpenter

Certified Inspector.

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Robert from Robert Graul in Montreal
Date/Time7/9/2012 at 10:51:08 PM

Hello Emma,

1. Get an aggressive lawyer... on board... tomorrow!



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Serge in Woodbridge
Date/Time7/9/2012 at 11:27:55 PM

With all due respect to all contractors posting nonsense here,

Guys, what are you doing? You are misleading the poor lady. She needs a legal advice from a lawyer (if the contractor preserves the lien). You are putting the lady into false sence of security. And the advice not to pay is wreckless. If the contractor is right she may end up with 3 claims. Lien and breach of contract (Superior Court ) and breach of trust ( Superior or Small Claims ). Those claims may not be joined in the same action under CLA. No home inspector will help her beat any of those (if she really defaulted). Topics like this need to be banned because they can damage people.

There are always two sides to a fight and a lien action is rearely commenced for no reason. A breach of trust action can be devastating as there is a possibility that liability will not be discharged by bankruptcy.

In construction lien cases black can be white and white can be black. I really hope the lady will figure things out with the contractor and get away without a lien. But when some contractors try to give advice to a person how to deal with a situation a lawyer could have problems with, it looks unprofessional.

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Emma in Mississauga
Date/Time7/10/2012 at 7:08:00 AM

Thanks for all your advice, I think the majority rules. I will consult a Lawyer, even though Serge from Woodbridge is the only contractor who thinks that I would write for advice and be liable. The contractor has over 16 grand of my money and Serge seems to think I am trying not to pay. I will contact BBB, hire a good lawyer, I actually have a friend, I just did not want to involve them.

Again, thank you all for your advice, and sound like my need to respond Serge. The purpose for me writing is to obtain a Contractor's perspective on my problem, a real problem not one that is made up. The work was substandard, and Serge, you would think that you would have taken it from the writer's perspective, not yours or my contractors, but unfortunately you think everyone is a scammer's a terrible way to deal with customers....SERGE.

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Date/Time7/10/2012 at 7:12:55 AM

Serge, you are absolutely right.

I am a contractor who has done work for a lawyer who had another sub trade (hard wood flooring contractor) do some poor work for them. I, like many of the comments posted above found the work to be shotty and recommended a similar course of action as you fellows above. The lawyer stated many of the things you mention Serge and through some legal writings and conversations, forced the contractor to return and fix the work.

If Im not mistaken, he even paid the contractor in full once he finished the work then when after him in full. It took a couple of months for it to happen but the work was fixed and it looked fine.

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Serge in Woodbridge
Date/Time7/10/2012 at 6:05:34 PM

Thanks for your reply Don,

This is exactly where the problem is. 99% of consumers and contractors don't know how construction laws work. Had the lady known, that the contractor, technically, has a mortgage on her property for services and materials supplied, she would have never given them money upfront. She would have held back 10% (basic holdback) and administered the trust fund properly.

It is no mystery for people dealing with construction litigation, that some make a living out of construction liens. And who gives them power to do so? ..... The consumers. There is unofficial term for some consumers, which is "walking liability". They violate everything written, so it is easy to get them if there is a dispute.

But wait untill Jan 1. 2013, when the new face will be in town (old face actually, but with brand new powers), the WSIB and their straight pipeline to the land title. Some people will wish someone preserved a construction lien. Because WSIB don't play around with their seizure proceedings.

Consumers underestimate consequences of a mistake in construction industry. They, actually, care only about one thing - the price. And if you read the ladie's post, it says that she had two contracts, one for cheque and one for cash ...... Please......:-)

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Date/Time7/11/2012 at 12:14:24 PM now know from experience...dont give deposits to contractors for any reason. Our company requires payment when the work is completed and approved by the owner.

Second ..there is a chance that the work is acceptable in accordance with industry standards. I would get a qualified engineer to do a site inspection and provide a report. You must share these findings with your contractor and give him a designated period of time to rectify deficiencies if there are any. If you dont get satisfaction.. get appropriate legal advice.

Paul Justice

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Date/Time7/13/2012 at 8:25:37 PM


Your unfortunate situation is all too familiar in the renovation / remodeling / construction industry.

It is a terrible circumstance to be in...As unsympathetic as Serge "sounds", he makes some valid points. At the very least, they should be considered...

As a customer or client, you opted to "save money" by paying cash. When customers do this, they waive their rights on several levels; the most important one may arguably be the one for "recourse action." I believe this muddies the water when it comes to resolving your dilemma on a "legal basis." At the very least, it puts both parties at risk because the Contractor is obligated to pay taxes on the services rendered...

I am often approached by clients caught in your type of "sticky" situation and my opinion is that I refuse to "clean up another contractor's mess".

I wish I could offer you a simple solution...because I do empathize with you.

It would be interesting do hear how this matter is dealt with and what the final outcome is. I hope you will share it with the many readers and contractors online.

If nothing else, it is an expensive learning experience...Good Luck!


Creative Remodeling Solutions Inc. (CRS)

Mississauga, Ontario

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Gaby from Amg Renovation in Hearst
Date/Time9/23/2012 at 2:35:49 PM


Now your saying why? because all bad Carpenters, Electricians and more makes the good guys looks bad, that's why clients hires more and more handyman to be less expensive but get stuck again in this problem, this ends up more expensive for the client and the good guy gets blame for the amount spent by the clients (To expensive) they all say, Get the good guy in first place you will see he is not expensive at the end.

Thanks for your time.


From Amg Renovation.

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Manor in Surrey
Date/Time8/29/2013 at 4:41:30 PM

Hi everyone,

I need a help here. We hired this guy for removing old cabinets and throwing them and putting new sink and faucets, kitchen wall tiles and doing stove fan and outside laundry tub and his charge was $1400.

First day he came took down the old cabinets and he said he needs $700 cash, so we gave him. The second day he came started working on sink and tub it took him all day long not finished he left. Came back second day work all day long not finished left and and same thing on third day. He put the laundry tub so high cant even reach to do dishes and its leaking. The inside sink is leaking too. So we told him to stop the work here its ok we paid him $700, you keep it. Now we will hire someone to finish the sink and tub and wall tile. He started yelling at my hubby that he gonna take him to court and put lien under the house.

The thing is he himself don't know how to do the job. For everything he is reading instruction all the time. How can any experience person take 3 days to do same job over and over again? My house is big mess. I didn't get to take kids to anywhere because of this people and next week school opens and I am stuck.

Can anyone please help me what to do.

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