My client had hired a contractor, Scott (not his real name), to do a partial renovation of her kitchen. The contract set out the scope of the work to be done at a cost of $3,000.00. My client paid Scott a deposit of $2,500.00, which was a large deposit amount for a $3,000.00 job. The work that Scott did was shoddy. Moreover, Scott never completed the work, he provided the wrong cabinet doors, and he never provided a kitchen counter-top that my client had already paid for with the deposit money. After receiving excuse after excuse from Scott as to why he was unable to supply the counter-top and finish the work that he had contracted to do, my client terminated his services. She then had the work done by a reputable company. Scott refused to refund any money to my client.


Because Scott had and continued to refuse to return the monies that my client had paid him, my client instructed me sue Scott for the deposit money paid of $2,500.00, plus some other incidental amounts, plus interest and costs.

I prepared and served a small claims court claim on Scott. Scott defended the claim. A settlement conference was held but Scott still refused to settle. As a result, the matter went to trail. The trial judge made an Order (a Judgment) against Scott in favour of my client for the total sum of $4,800.00 inclusive of costs, plus post-judgment interest.

As a result of that order, Scott paid the sum of $4,800.00 to my client.


There are three important takeaways from this matter:

Be very careful who you award a renovation contract to. The person who offers a cheap renovation will have to cut corners somewhere to make the job profitable. He may order substandard materials (like in this case low-quality cabinet doors which were not the doors that my client had selected), or never obtain the materials at all (like in this case the kitchen counter-top), and then not complete the work. This will cause you a high degree of stress and aggravation.

Obtain at least three references of people that the contractor has done work for and call them to inquire as to the quality of the renovator’s work. While this will not guarantee that you won’t have a bad experience, it will go a long way to ferreting out the fly-by-night or the incompetent contractor.

If you have a good case against a contractor for poor workmanship, you should pursue it. Dishonest and/or incompetent contractors are counting on you not pursuing them.