Here is the scenario, and I'm hoping that someone can point me in the right direction.
- MIL (mother in-law) purchases house with lower suite, with the knowledge that there are a few improvements required to make the suite legal. (She wants a small income property)
- Realtor recommends a contractor, says he is great, and gets the job done well.
- Contractor is chosen, says (verbally) that he can start on project right away, and can also have it completed by September 2015.
- Fast forward to end of May 2016, and the only work completed has been ripping all the drywall off, as well as carpets, and electrical.
My MIL is a nervous wreck because of this experience. Her realtor also seemed to be giving her the run around. I've been going through all of the emails trying to piece together what has happened since this entire thing started.
Here's what I have found:
- There is no real "contract", the emails with the "contract" attached are simply a budget of the costs for the work to be completed. One of which was signed by my MIL and the contractor.
- I've found multiple attempts from MIL to get realtor to assist (since she recommended this contractor, and MIL trusted her), to no avail. Realtor would respond, but not really say anything, and there are several emails (especially in the beginning) where MIL was asking Realtor some very important questions regarding her concerns over this contractor. Those went unanswered.
- Total estimated costs from contractor were approx $36,000 (to completion), and contractor has taken just over $20,000 (suite is a shell).
- During my searches, I found that while contractor has a link on his website to his business license, is directs to a blank page on the city business directory. All searches of his name, company name, address, and several phone numbers bring up zero results, which appears to state that he is also unlicensed.
- Contractor is also not registered with the BBB.
I've been looking into what sort of recourse MIL has for this that isn't going to cost her an arm and a leg. Especially considering this contractor has taken so much already.
What can be done? This has occurred in British Columbia. Is there any liability placed on the realtor for highly recommending a potentially unlicensed contractor, and even if licensed, failing to protect her client through negligence?
Obviously I am very sorry to hear about your mother in-laws situation.
A contract is not just a budget it should include scope of work to be completed, budget, schedule, draw schedule and exit rights for both parties should you wish to terminate the agreement. Your in a bit of trouble but as long as you have receipts I would talk to a lawyer usually free for the first 30mins and it might even be criminal fraud as he has taken much more than a deposit without doing the work.
A good and honest general contractor should not require over 10% deposit to start with draws scheduled for progress payments.
I would seek out the city as he is not licensed but receiving money as a contractor, a lawyer to tell you your options to get your money back and possible cost of damages as it was a secondary suite you have lost income.
It is a long road ahead, getting money wether a client from a contractor or the other way around is not a fast process but its not terribly expensive.
In my opinion, your real estate agent wont be held resonsible.
I wish you guys all the best!
I am sorry to hear about the troubles your family is forced to deal with. It saddens me to hear about these types of this happening, and to me all too often!
I'm out in Ontario and not sure about the rules and regulations in B.C. are, but what I would say to start is find a good civil lawyer or paralegal in your area and seek legal council immediately! They should be familiar with the in's and out's and often provide good insight on different options on seeking some sort of resolve to these issues. It has been carrying on for 8 months, let someone who is experienced in these types of situations take control and alleviate some of the burden and help you focus your energy, allowing you the opportunity to not let this completely consume your lives.
Getting into disputes is never fun or easy to resolve and I do truly wish you and your family all the best moving forward.
I am personally committed to being proactive about this type of behavior and have made a series of videos that I call the Contractors Standers Guide intended to help consumers ask the right questions and to try and avoid these situations in the first place.
Hopefully you find these videos helpful moving forward!
All the best.
As others have said, this type of situation is sickening.
Collecting the money owed to you can cost a lot. I would suggest finding out if this guy actually has enough money to pay in the end. Find out if he actually owns his home, vehicles etc. Go into the commercial sales at Lowes, Home Depot etc in your area and see if they have any knowledge about this guy.
If you get a feeling that your money can be recouped then hire a lawyer and sue him.
I hope you win!
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