Buyer’s remorse is something most people experience from time to time. While it may be disappointing to regret a small purchase, significant investments that don’t work out can be harder pills to swallow. Take for example home renovations. When an Alberta homeowner claimed a contractor did such a poor job as to not deserve any payment, the courts were tasked with deciding whether or not anything was owed.
The core issue that was before the court was whether a home renovation contractor’s workmanship was so deficient that the customer should be relieved of any obligation to pay for it.
The contractor agreed to perform renovations to a farmhouse owned by the homeowner. When the work was purported to have been completed by the contractor, the homeowner refused to provide payment of $77,691.76. The homeowner said the installation of the materials by the contractor was so substandard that he was required to dismantle it and have it all redone by another contractor to the tune of more than $50,000.
When asked by the court whether he should pay anything to the contractor, or another amount such as the difference between what was charged by the two contractors, the homeowner stated he did not believe he should owe the contractor anything.
While there was a long list of complaints made by the homeowner, the court described them as falling into three categories. The first was poor workmanship, the second was poor aesthetic appearance, and the third was a lack of waterproofing.
Was the work substantially completed?
The court referred to a 2019 decision from the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench which stated that a contractor should be entitled to all money owed less the amount it would have cost to remove deficiencies if the work was substantially completed. That decision stated,
“A fundamental breach entitling the innocent party to repudiate the contract must be a breach that goes to the root of the contract and therefore deprives the contracting party of substantially the entire benefit of the very thing for which it contracted …”
The court was critical of the homeowner’s decision not to allow the contractor the opportunity to correct the perceived flaws in the original project. Instead, the homeowner said he paid another contractor to totally tear down the contractor’s work, and that he, therefore, did not benefit from the original work done. However, the court stated,
“As the evidence established, there was some labour performed even before construction started in removing old materials. (The contractor) also performed some structural renovations that (the second contractor) incorporated into its work, such as the framing of the kitchen window.”
Since the homeowner did not afford the contractor any reasonable opportunity to make things right, the court found the homeowner liable for the full amount owed.
HMC Lawyers acts on behalf of contractors, subcontractors, lenders, and developers, both advancing and defending claims arising from negligent construction and negligent professional advice. As a team, we have decades of experience successfully advocating for our clients in the construction industry in Calgary and across Alberta. To make an appointment to discuss a potential or emerging claim, call 1-800-480-3534 or contact us online.