Ripped off by a homeowner

It is true unfortunately. The other side of the coin is there, we just don’t hear too much about it.

The usual, and perhaps more believable, story is that of the converse – the contractor taking advantage of the homeowner. It may not be intentful, and simply a case of one party presuming one thing and the other, well, the other. This may be a result of something that wasn’t planned for in the scope of work, or something that wasn’t foreseen. As a contractor, we call these “extras”, but to a homeowner, they may be something less nice.

It is true that not all things are known when undertaking some projects. In the case of a rotted deck repair, the full extent of the rot and may not be completely visible, or it may get in to the house and require extensive remediation there. Maybe it’s not a rot remediation project. Maybe it’s a kitchen renovation, and everything is all laid out, the T’s are crossed and the I’s are dotted, then we get the opportunity to make something a little better or a little different, “since we have that opened up”. “That” may be changing the rest of the flooring, re-drywalling the ceiling, upgrading the electrical feed, or even just changing the countertops from laminate to granite. Again, no one’s “fault”, but a change that ups the ante of the project.

Whatever the case, reason, or intent, the only way to know which direction the bus is going is to have the map in front of us. The map being the dreaded contract. Scary word for some, but in the root of CONTRACTOR it is. “Get it in writing” is always being heard, but, “what does it actually mean and why do I have to have it?”, you wonder. Quite simply, it’s the map. Where are we going and how do we get there from where we’re at right now. What are we planning to build/re-build/fix, what is it going to look like, and HOW MUCH IS IT GOING TO COST. Ergo the opening line. We can all start off with the best of intentions and hopes to get “it” done for as little money as possible, but as things get underway, we cannot possible remember all of the turns on the map and will have to pull it out of the glove box to refresh our minds. Oh yeah, turn at the fridge and head towards the bathroom. That’s right, I remember now. Oh, but wait, there was a washed out bridge and we had to go around the other way. Right. Ok. How did that affect our trip? Side note, an a personal business philosophy; We had better have a chat about which way to go around the washout and what will that do to our trip. Will it affect our cost? Timeline? Will I need more gas?

The contract is only one of the key points, and perhaps the most important one of a project, but there are others to consider. Right from the mere idea of needing/wanting some work done, to saying (hopefully) “Thank-you” to the contractor as the keys are turned over, there are many obstacles to navigate around on the renovation road.

In a recent article in The Vancouver Sun, Gerry Bellett And Gillian Shaw  ( wrote about “How to renovate your home and save your sanity“. Among the insightful tips of the sanity save, the story is told of dream to nightmare that has been experienced by some unsuspecting homeowners. With the experience of others, and the education brought to us, both as contractors and homeowners, we can make our relationship seamless and smooth. We should each share a happy experience and want to get together again next time.



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