A family from Edmonton says when they canceled a job with a local contractor because the company responded to inferior work with a lien on their house in the amount of more than four times their alleged debt.
Kimberley Bewick and Jennifer Alabiso say they can no longer borrow money to do repairs or quit the job and have left a garden full of rubble.
“I don’t want this to happen to anyone else,” said Bewick with tears in his eyes.
“I want to throw up,” added Alabiso. “I get chest pains that feel awful.”
She hired Rapid Roofing & Renovations in April 2013 to clear an ice dam from her roof and then re-clap it for a contract price of $ 14,600.
Initially satisfied with the work, they hired the same company to remodel a bathroom and add an extension to the kitchen in their 80-year-old house.
Builders associated with children with special needs, says homeowners
The couple have four children, two of whom have special needs.
Bewick said they felt reassured by company representative Tom Handy, who appears to have had a bond with their 6-year-old son Julius, who has severe autism.
“Tom said, ‘I have a grandson with autism and I know that meeting the needs of a child with special needs can be difficult. And I’ll make sure that this affects him as little as possible, ‘”said Bewick.
“I have had a lot of negative experiences with Julius in the peoples world because of his autism,” she said. “So when someone says they’re ready to do something with them … that’s incredible.”
“He let Julius crawl on top of him and play with him. It was really nice to see, ”said Bewick.
Over the next six months, Alabiso and Bewick paid Rapid Roofing over $ 70,000.
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Bad work, “grossly inflated,” says the home inspector
In late 2013, Alabiso and Bewick said the ice jam they hired Rapid Roofing & Renovations to fix came back worse than ever, pouring water into Julius’ room.
They told the company that they wanted to fix the roof and water damage before the rest of the renovations were completed.
The couple say they tried unsuccessfully to convince company owner Dan Cote to take responsibility for the damage caused by the new ice dam.
Alabiso and Bewick hired an independent appraiser to assess the roof and the renovation work.
In his report, licensed house inspector Allan Holben said the only remedy for ice jam was to repair attic and roof ventilation.
He went on to say that Rapid Roofing had replaced the shingles, but that “the agent used to repair it was not suitable for the ice jam, the ice jam continued that year”.
When checking the roofing and renovation work, Holben reported that the quality of the work was “not acceptable and severely overwhelmed”.
Holben also said the kitchen extension had been changed significantly from the original drawings because roof trusses were built the wrong size.
He also wondered whether the floor of the extension could bear the new weight of the modified roof, but came to no conclusion because there was no access built into the foundation.
Shortly after receiving the report, Alabiso and Bewick terminated the contract.
Rapid Roofing & Renovations responded by filing an affidavit for a builder lien and vowing that the company was owed $ 107,000 for work done but not yet completed and materials supplied and due. The lien prevents the couple from selling their home or renewing their mortgage.
The company will “protect our interests”
Company owner Dan Cote would not agree to an interview with Go Public.
But in an email the company said, “We do a good job, sometimes there are problems. We will continue to work on a solution. “
The email said the company was going to court “to protect our interests as we have over $ 70,000 in costs to work on a $ 107,000 project.”
Tom Handy also declined several Go Public interview requests.
In an email, he said he quit serving as director of the company “sometime in 2012” and “only stayed as general manager.”
Handy said he has since retired from the company.
The deposit is not correct, says the house inspector
Alabiso and Bewick’s contracts with Rapid Roofing are $ 14,600 for roof repair and $ 81,000 for renovation.
Alabiso and Bewick have already paid more than $ 70,000 of the $ 95,600 in the contracts, while Rapid Roofing claims they still owed $ 107,000.
According to Corbin Devlin, a lawyer specializing in construction law, a lien is usually filed for the amount of work performed or materials supplied.
He said a contractor could technically file a lien for more. However, if a court finds that the contract has been legally terminated, the amount of the claim should be reduced to the work performed and not paid.
Home inspector Allan Holben said the amount of money Rapid Roofing & Renovations is claiming in the lien does not match. To date, he estimates the value of the work at around $ 56,000.
“I’m shocked at the amount,” said Holben. “He’s just digging them up again and using the court system to help him out. It’s shocking and disgusting. “
The lien expires 180 days after its registration, unless Rapid Roofing & Renovations takes legal action to reclaim the alleged monies owed.
Meanwhile, Bewick and Alabiso say they are stuck with a partially built annex that they aren’t sure is safe and cannot afford.
“If we don’t win the lottery, I’m not sure how we’ll ever recover financially,” said Bewick.
Now she’s hoping to convince a few friends to help the family rent a dumpster to remove the rubble that allegedly made their garden unusable for Julius and his sister Imogen, who also has autism.
“I feel guilty,” said Alabiso. “I thought we were making things better and we made things worse.”