Should We Complete Payment with the Contractor

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Posted by: from Alert Bay

We recently enterd into an agreement with our contractor to do a renovation on our small house. The job was to Start Sept 3, 2012 and be completd by October 19, 2012, it is now Nov 29 2012. The scope of the job was to build 6 ft extensions on the master bedroom and the second bedroom to increase the floor space of our house to 1000 sq ft. It entailed extending the foundation, all asociated flooring, framing, outside walls, rebuilding the roof as the roof line and pitch had to be changed. (essentally to Lockup for the first part of the contract $ 17,100 as agreed we paid him $6000 at start up Sept 3, 2012.

3 weeks after work had began we had to go to Britain for a family emergency we were gone almost 3 weeks. We left him email and phone numbers in case he ran into problems. Upon arrival home we were horrified to see that he had put a shed roof on our house making it look like one of those mobile home with a bay window, when we went inside both bedrooms were down to dirt.

We questiond him on the roof and he came up with numerious excuses and reasons why he had to do it that way and as for the floors, he explained that they had to remove many layers of old flooring and a few rotten sleepers and joists this was going to be an extra cost to bring the floors bact to the desired level ($2675) we agreed and payed him the money along with an additionat $5000 (middle payment) as long as he fixed the roof line to our satisfaction , which he agreed to.

A few days later he came up to me saying that he was out 65 hours labour for the tearing out and removal of the end walls and the floors. I gave him a cheque for $2500 to cover his extra costs.

Fast forward to this week Nov 26, 2012 he finally finished the first part of the job to there has been no communication about money owed, some days he would not show up to work and when he did he worked so slow it was painful, constantly stopping for smokes or to talk to people passing by or to think about he was to complete the next task.

He has painted over wet wood siding, we have unlevel floors and walls that are not straight, he built another roof over the one that was wrong and shingled it in the rain.

We were then presented with and additional bill of $1650 for hauling away and $1800 for roofing material

We feel we should pay him to the original $17100, should we pay him that amount????

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Boy, it sounds like you entered into an arrangement without the following:

1) written contract

2) clear scope of work

3) no detailed construction plans

4) no detailed budget

Based on just what you explained, You may want to withhold further funds as long as you are prepared to fight him in small claims if he takes it that far, You may want to have a Canadian Home Builder's Association registered and Renomark certified contractor do a third party assessment of structural correctness and adherence to provincial building code, and provide a written report, or at least a home inspector.

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Hi There,

I am a contractor myself and it sounds like you have a nightmare on your hands, as well as you will need someone else to fix his mess. I honestly would not pay him anything. the reason being is he broke a contract with by saying it will take a month them he is trying to get all the extras in between. What you paid him is it close to or more then the original agreement? If so, Then pay really and truly you are paid up to date. Also was all the extras ammended on the contract. If not you are well in your legal right of not paying because you now have to charge him for someone else to come in and fix his job.

Please take pictures lots of picture and let him know you have talk to your lawyer and refuse to pay him anything else. do you have proof of all the payments you made him. If not get proofs. Make him sign of on something saying how much so far he has been paid and talk to a lawyer.

It kills me how many of these dishonest, unreliable, slim buckets are out there ruining all Home renovators/ contractors names.

I am so sorry for what you are going through.




647 300 1242

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In your description there has been no mention of contract, permits, building inspection, engineered plans for foundation, truss plans or engineering, and on and on. These are some of the tell tail signs of a problem contractor.

The first thing I would have you do is check and see if there is a building permit with the local authority. If there is none, stop all payments. Next I would call a reputable construction inspector and or the local building inspectors to take a look. You could also go to a local renovation association and see if they have some one that will look at the project.

The second you stop payment he will stop working and put a lean on your house. Not a big deal unless you plan to sell the house right away. If there is a permit and inspections and they seem in order you might want to start negotiating with the contractor on quality before paying anything else. No matter what it is not going to be fun for you.

If you get a lawyer it is going to cost. I was always told negotiation before mediation and mediation before litigation.

Good luck

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Don't pay him. Fire him and be done with it. Hire someone who can give you proper quotes and at least be in the ball park of what you are looking for.


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You must be Alert.

God knows that the world needs more Lerts.

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You have paid this man over $15000.00 already, I believe you have been hurt enough in this matter. If you have no contract with this person then cut all ties with him. Have a building inspector come and take a look at his work and make sure what is done is up to code. Hopefully it is and you can hire someone else to finish the job. If not then you are looking at spending more money. No matter what you do make sure a written contract is done for the remainder of the work. I would not give this person any more money.

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The judge will say: You get what you pay for, keep hiring unlicensed people with no insurance or bonding or registration. I hope your insurance doesn't cancel YOUR insurance.

Good luck.

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Hi Folks!

Well if the reason is you are not satisfied with the ongoing work STOP paying him. Time to sit him down and make him understand your point of view and you are not happy. Sounds like he is not capable of doing as you need or want so time to throw him to the street.

I read and hear this all the time on my end and quite frankly it is time for a change. These guys make the good guys look bad and ruin the trust we have built in the industry for so many years.

I assume this guy does not have a company that is registered so its buyer beware and you always take chances that way. Use a licensed contractor with references in the future. Kick him to the curb if you can't resolve the issues at hand.

Good luck!


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As a business owner my morals would not allow me to do what this contractor has done to you.

First thing I hope for is that you checked before starting that he has insurance. Second thing I hope you have a contract in place with this contractor and I would not pay another cent till he has fixed the problems you have mentioned.

It drives me nuts that people go around ripping good people off and give the rest of us contractors a bad name. I hope he got all the proper permits in place before he started because the city can actually make you rip it all down. So don't give any more money and I would think about taking him to court to fix the problems he has created.

Mark yetman

Yetman's construction ltd.


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I read your question - and feel for you. This is a very common issue and situation that does arise. (sigh). Now that you are in this position - you are somewhat 'stuck" and need to put your home and lives back together.

I cannot help you with the answer as to what is 'owed' - however, I can ask you a few other questions that may help you to determine the answer.

1. First, Did you have a contract signed with the contractor? This will help to clairify - what is legally owed.

2. Did you have a plan - or set of drawings that detailed the work involved?? - This will help with your question - about the roof style.

Unfortunately, if you cannot come to a resolution with him about what is owed - it may end up in court - either you or him - suing. it's not as easy as just paying him - what you think he deserves. He could put a caveat against your house - and you will have to deal with this - at some point down the road - (when you go to sell the house). Better to resolve it now with him - AND put it in writing. Have everything detailed & completely noted - not just about the $$ - but also about the schedule (time frames), materials, finishes, quality of workmanship.

Again, I feel for your situation and know what kind of a difficult predicament you are in. Now, It is easy to look back now - and see where many things went wrong - or sideways. I am an Interior Designer. My role is to help my clients determine these things before they start a project, to have their expectations clearly identified and put into writing ahead of time - and to protect their interests. Doing this -also makes it easy for the contractors to bid the job - knowing exactly what all is involved - and thus - the extra costs - dont' keep coming in. This is all after the fact now. I often hear that people want to save the costs of hiring someone like me ahead of time and I try and warn them of all the costs and disappointments that often occur when they don't.


Carrie Gould

Interior Designer


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What the contractor has done is abysmal; however, it looks like the project was doomed from the get go. It is unlikely that at $17.00 per square foot, for the type of project you have described, the contractor was able to cover his costs.

Did you obtain other competitive quotations? If so, what was the difference between bidders?

Is the contractor licensed?

Is the contractor WSIB compliant?

Is the contractor insured?

Was a contact issued? If so, did you deduct a 10% lien hold-back from each invoice/payment?

Our firm specializes in the recovery and takeover of under-performing, non performing or stagnant projects. There are remedies to your situation but it will ultimately come down to what steps you have taken to protect your interests.

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What ever happened with this issue?


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$17 dollars a square foot. Wow I don't even know where to start with that, I would say do your homework next time and do not pay any further monies owed.

These type of contractors are a plague in our trade and give us legitimate contractors a bad name , they waste good business oxygen and need to be stamped out.

Unfortunately your moneys gone ! and I'm sure you won't hear from him anymore take pictures regarding all aspects and note all things you remember about everything,

My opinion, he is inexperienced, uneducated on the system, he doesn't have any money, court is too expensive for him, and he will have to prove his claims, any judge will see through this story which in my opinion is unfortunately both your fault.

Good luck, I hope the best for you!

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Hi Dick,

I have been following this thread and have a couple of thoughts.

For a reno like this you must have had plans, permits, engineering, etc. done and approved. This would certainly include the right details to tell the contractor how to build and tie in your addition. I am really curious as to why he thought he had to make it up himself?

The other thought is actually a question - Is this resolved yet? and if so, how? more curiosity than anything else.

I do hope it worked out well for you!

Jim Kuzma

Kettleby Handyman Services

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