Taken Advantage of by Crooked Contractor - Please Help

Question Icon
Posted by: from Calgary
2/6/2019 at 2:10:30 PM

I verbally hired a friend's recommendation to renovate a small bungalow. This person, who calls himself a contractor (I don't believe he is certified) gave me a verbal quote for the work to be done, I took notes of all details but we never signed a contract. He assured me the work would be done within a month, but that deadline came and went 3 times and I find myself 2 months later with a very poorly finished home I cannot yet rent as it needs to be properly finished and repaired.

He is now asking me to pay 60% higher than his original quote, has threatened to show up at my house while I was meeting with a potential tenant. I feel very intimidated as a woman and am not sure what to do. I have already paid him $1500 over his original quote and he wants another $3500 for work of a very poor quality. He damaged my new bathtub, scratched my new marble vanity, cracked my freezer from putting construction material inside, etc... He did not put any protection when working in the house leaving grout, paint and black finger marks everywhere on brand new white paint.

He hired a carpenter without my knowledge or approval as he was unable to install new doors; improperly installed closet doors without changing the mount to fit the new doors which are now all wobbly and squeaky. I found the proper mount hidden in the basement for doors and improperly installed kitchen cabinets. He admitted not knowing anything about tiles, but yet proceeded to do my bathroom backsplash which looked like a child glued tiles on the wall without installing the separators resulting in completely crooked tiles.

I have now changed the locks on my doors. But he is now threatening me asking for payment within days.

He also refused to give me all receipts for all products purchased as he will claim them for himself even though I paid for them.

Could anyone please advise how long I have to deal with final payment (I gave him a partial final payment after his last invoice) and what my rights are in all this.

I am worried of his future actions.

Thank you.

User Icon
Date/Time2/6/2019 at 4:06:57 PM

Sorry to hear. You have every right to get a record of purchases/payments.

Secondly, take pictures/video of work that was done.

Lastly, a verbal contract is as binding as a written one.

User Icon
Date/Time2/6/2019 at 4:13:18 PM

First of all, if you are worried about the safety of yourself or property, contact the police. Second, without a contract, there isn't much he can do about getting money from you, but the police or a lawyer will answer those questions better.

In the future, make sure any contractor you hire will show you proof of insurances, business license, and even trade designations. Read and understand any contract you sign so that you are paying the price for the service you both agree upon.

User Icon
Date/Time2/6/2019 at 4:21:12 PM

Hello Marie

Changing the locks was a smart move. The next step is to have a meeting with a lawyer that way you know where you stand on the problem. A real and professional contractor doesnt threaten a customer that's what we have lawyers for.If your intimidated by this person you could contact the local police and explain the situation and they might go speak to the contractor. There is no excuse for threatening in our business . If its financialy possible you should hire another contractor and get the job finished so you can get it rented out and get money coming in. Have your lawyer send him a letter explaining your position and to take you to court if he's not happy about it. Dont let the thought of court scare you. It's a lot less stressful then constantly being harrassed.

Allan Bartlett

User Icon
Date/Time2/6/2019 at 4:25:35 PM

Call the Police if he keeps threatening you and get aveestraining order. This is a civil matter, take pics of his work and how hes leaving job site messy. I would call in and get a reputable contractor to come in evaluate and provide quote to complete project. You should then file small claims, he really doesnt have a leg to stand on other than possible texts or emails between you guys confirming his scope of work plus costs. I would also recommend you record his threats, very unprofessional.

User Icon
Date/Time2/6/2019 at 5:03:14 PM

Sorry to hear about your troubles .

In a case like this , you should have 2 reputable contractors to look at the work that was completed ,

And have them find the problematic situations and a cost to repair these issues .

Explain to the contractor you hired that you are not happy with the work, and getting prices to repair everything, and by having this done it will effect the rental income that you were expecting to have to cover the already out of pocket costs,

For the extended lingth that it took to get the job done.

After you receive the estimates,

Send him or her a copy , and demanded that he cover the additional costs , or have the work brought up to your approval.

At that time if your contractor doesn't complete the work , or walks off the job ,

You can have another contractor take over , and chase him for the added costs in court .

If he becomes verbally abusinve or threatening

They call to police , and file a complaint.

Hope this helps

Good luck

User Icon
Date/Time2/6/2019 at 7:31:19 PM


All the above messages are good and say similar things. Get the police involved, even if it's just to open a file. Record his information ... Business license (if he has one) references, full name, his address, even his vehicle license number (it may come in handy, and any thing else you can think of. He may be jonest and just out of his league when it comes to business, but protect yourself and don't be afraid to ask for help and advice. Sorry to hear about this issue.

User Icon
Date/Time2/6/2019 at 7:40:58 PM

Without a written contract its hard to prove things like schedule or contract amount, but it's still doable. Don't let this guy push you around, and you should most definitely contact a lawyer with experience in construction immediately.

User Icon
Date/Time2/6/2019 at 11:06:14 PM


from your story it sounds like you feel threatened and afraid. i would suggest calling the police if he were to come by again. speak to a lawyer or at least a legal clerk.

you should not pay anymore money until there is an agreement in place and maybe even then a cash settlement may be better than dealing with this person as his work is not going to get any better

In your place i would deal with the authorities and deal with the repairs myself or hire someone else.

Situations like these are better settled. Deal with your project some other way with maybe help from friends, do what you can and hire someone with references on a contract for daily labor only so you can end it anytime you feel

you nee to. Develop a list of items needing repairs and have the new person work on one area ir one thing at a time. don't overwhelm yourself or him. Make your list into a series of small projects and close the book on those as they're fine and go on

Start with the most urgent first

you may be able to touch up the painting and clean fingerprints etc yoursel

hope this helps

User Icon
Date/Time2/7/2019 at 10:50:11 AM

We are very sorry to hear this story from you.

What we would suggest doing at this point, is to call another 3 contractors, and get written quotes for what you have originally done, do not inform them of you trying to have this problem worked out.

You will use these three quotes to give you a medium of what is the proper pay, as for poor workmanship this is difficult to get away with not paying, you may need to try to calmly negotiate a price, and let the contractor know you have found what the medium is if he is higher then others, if he is much lower then well do not say anything.

here is you next steps:

1) settle with contractor negotiating reasonable price

2) find out from the new estimating contractors how much it will be to correct whats been done wrong, now since they are doing the other estimates, you are requesting 2 options from them, this way you can get them to give you two serious quotes for the project at hand.

In the end to negotiate once you have received everything you may explain what's happened they may become sympathetic.

3) Write down any defaults you see, or are told are defaults by the other contractors before work has commenced. and provide this from all three contractors to the original contractor, so that this way they have a copy of them as well as you, providing evidential proof of expert opinions.

4) Any work to be done, is to be given in writing, we have gone through this before a long time ago ourselves, on the other end though, where we were providing quality work and the job had gotten bigger then the clients brother was left in charge, and started making changes, now this project was given through a close friend so when we had no choice but to add something and got the okay, we just commenced, but then the brother was left in charge of paying.. needless to say you never like learning things the hard way especially when it a close friend and its one of there other close friends.

So anything you do must be done in writing, a project starts, if there is an option on the extra, the contractor gives you the option in writing you choose, if you request other work to be done the contract writes down infront of you , you sign off on it, and you are given within 72hrs the cost of that in an invoice, now what we have done to secure things even further is we have in our contracts how much hourly rates are for each degree of trade from super, to carpenter, to labour, and what our minimum charge is, and what a full day charge is.

this way our clients know if they are to be billed by the hour which we do do, during the project for most of our extras, that they will be billed accordingly, and will receive the invoice within 72 hrs of completing the extra, and it is expected to be paid upon completion of the whole project.

this is just some advice, we hope it helps you out.

when negotiating from what we can tell you seem to get either doing something really not expensive or got a really great deal on your project.

but having another company come in to give you an original quote, for what you originally requested and a quote to fix what is necessary to be repaired, what you can also do with those is negotiate, and once negotiated you can go to small claims with the 3 quotes, and the cost to fix what had been done wrong and have a judge decide if he should be paid, or you can simply do all things comly and negotiate with him and let him know his work is done yo are not happy and you are having it corrected, and have been told if you do get told that it is done wrong.

Remember comly talk to him, as both parties are in the wrong a little bit, and if he tries to step on to you property without permission againn going in the home etc.. you can have him arrested and a restraining order given.

if he is simply there to collect his money then you cannot do anything then just negotiate or ask him to leave and do everything through email to keep documentation of what is said.

the way we see it, work is done some money yes should be paid poor work or not, but also everythign should have been written down and agreed upon, so a negotiation of what is to be paid and a discounting on the work where poorly completed, this should be done also, and make sure your new contract puts all things in writing, and agreed upon, and they should have in there anything extra is to be charged and if you do , you will either be forewarned that that is an extra or you will be asked to write it down and give it to them and they will commence and bill you upon completion.

we truly do hope this helps you out, and wish you best of luck with your new contractor to complete the work

User Icon
Date/Time2/8/2019 at 11:58:24 AM

Hi Marie,

I am so sorry that you have had to endure this experience. Jason has provided some excellent advice.

To start with, no business should ever be done without a record of what is to be done and what the expectations are. This 'contractor' not providing a written quote or contract should have been enough to alert you to walk. Secondly, you should have asked him for references. Unfortunately you did not realize this and he took advantage of you.

I would contact the Consumer Investigations unit of Service Alberta. Their number is 403 297-5727 ( Tell them you would like to issue a Consumer Complaint and give them the details. They will be all over this fellow, and he could end up in serious hot water.

Contractors in Alberta have guidelines they must follow to protect the consumer. These include a written contract that must contain, on the first page, a very specific BUYER'S RIGHT TO CANCEL clause. As well, any contractor taking a deposit who is not licensed and approved with Service Alberta will be investigated and charged by them, and would be liable to repaying whatever you have paid them, plus face serious consequences with Service Alberta.

Best of luck!


User Icon
Gerard from Betterbuilt in Burlington
Date/Time2/14/2019 at 7:47:28 AM

Hi there...

Do not get intimidated!!

Take pictures of the faulty and defective workmanship.

If you cannot get the original receipts, ask for copies and make sure these receipts are for materials used at your house.

Give him notice in writing of your intend to file a claim in small claims court.

Propose a final meeting to settle and bring a (male) friend as a mediator

Lawyers are too are on your own

Tell him you will charge him with tresspassing if he enters the property un-invited.

Hope this helps,


Gerard Schoeman


Search the TrustedPros directory and discover the best contractors in your area.

Find your home service pro
Great renovations start with a great contractor.

Since 2004, TrustedPros has been helping homeowners find the right contractor for their home improvements and repairs.

Post Your Project

Within hours you'll be comparing offers from top-rated professionals. It's free to post and you're under no obligation to hire.

Trustedpros Inc. does not warrant the accuracy, completeness, safety, legality or usefulness of any Content, or Whether Content is Current and up-to-date, and TrustedPros Inc. Shall have no liability whatsoever with respect to your use or reliance upon any content or for content being removed or otherwise ceasing to be available. Please refer to the terms and conditions of use of this websites for more details.

Get quotes from top-rated contractors