Buyer beware when it comes to hiring a contractor for household renovations

A Hamilton family is furious after paying a contractor $15 000 for work that isn’t even close to being finished.

Stewart McGregor and his wife had planned to have their basement weather proofed and renovated by Christmas, 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 delta board, ran a trough to put up waterproofing around the house.”

That was about four weeks of work. McGregor paid him more than $15,000 of a $16,000 job.

“Pretty much since then, I haven’t seen much of him.”

McGregor says he kept reaching out to Christian Basnett, the owner of Artistic Innovations and kept hearing excuses. When we called him today and his number didn’t work.

It’s a story Canada’s handyman Shawn Monteith hears often. He says you have to do your research, a web page with no reviews is a red flag.

He says never pay most of the money right away. He suggests 30% up front so the contractor can buy materials, 30% when they start working, 30% when the job is almost done and hold onto the rest.

Lawyer Michael Lesage says this doesn’t qualify as fraud, more a breach of contract because some work was done. He says taking the matter to small claims court would only cost a few hundred dollars and the McGregor’s could eventually get some of their money back.

Stewart McGregor hopes other people can learn from his expensive lesson.