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Civil Litigation

Homeowners can protect themselves by researching contractor

A Hamilton family that paid a contractor $15,000 for work that isn’t even close to being finished could take the matter to small claims court, Toronto litigator Michael Lesage tells CHCH News.

The couple planned to have their basement weatherproofed and renovated by Christmas, so they hired a contractor in the middle of July.

“Things started coming along, he came in and took out all the garbage, put up the DeltaBoard, ran a trough to put up waterproofing around the house,” the man tells the news outlet.

The couple paid the contractor more than $15,000 of a $16,000 job and is now unable to get in touch him.

Lesage, who practises insurance, business law, personal injury, malpractice and other liabilities with Michael’s Law Firm, says this situation doesn’t qualify as fraud but more a breach of contract because some work was done.

He tells CHCH that taking the matter to small claims court would only cost a few hundred dollars and the couple could eventually get some of their money back.

In an interview with AdvocateDaily.com, Lesage says homeowners can protect themselves beforehand by researching their contractor, including their online reputation and how established their company is.

“A company that has properties and employees has more to lose than someone working out of the back of their truck,” he notes.

Homeowners should take the time to specify in writing what it is the contractor is going to deliver.

“While a 'shiny new bathroom' doesn't help, a detailed description such as ‘A granite countertop with a stainless steel faucet on the vanity’ is much more useful,” he says.

Establish a payment schedule that is dependent upon certain work being done with the final payment being due only upon completion is another way homeowners can protect themselves, Lesage tells the legal newswire.

“If a dispute arises and the homeowners are unable to work it out with the contractor, it can be helpful to see a litigation lawyer for advice on how to proceed,” he adds.

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