Signed Contracts Make Your Relations Easier

At one time or another we all need to have some work done on our homes, cottages or workplaces and when that time comes we often rely on a reference from a friend or relative that “knows a guy”, pick the contractor with best online reviews, or just choose someone close to home, all in the belief that one way or the other things will work out which they often do, however it is those times that they do not work out no matter how good the reference that can land you in the Small Claims Court.  Construction and home renovation matters are one of the most common types of contract the average homeowner will be involved along with the purchase of their home and automobile and as such can be one of the most likely reasons that the average person who never thought they would have to be before a Court will have to consider proceedings in the Small Claims Court either to attempt to obtain compensation for a wrong done to them or to defend against a claim that they do not believe to be just or fair.

The best way for both a homeowner and a contractor to avoid the future possibility of resorting to Court proceedings is to get your agreement in writing.  It may seem unnecessary, it may seem like you are suggesting that you do not trust the contractor, it may seem that you are looking for trouble, all of which should to some small extent be true.  You are agreeing to pay your hard-earned money for repairs or renovations that you want or need done in the manner you need them to be done.  The contractor on the other hand is committing his time, money and expertise to do these things for you.  It would seem prudent that since everyone has something at stake that you at least are both clear on what you want, how you want it, when you need it done, and how much it is going to cost, including those extra items that may pop up along the way.

This approach will not only ensure that both you and your contractor are clear as to the terms of you agreement but also hopefully avoid any future disagreements.  When people go to Court it does not automatically mean that one party is wrong or trying to pull a fast one, although this is sometimes the case, it simply means that there is a dispute as to what the agreement was and as such if it is reduced to writing you can hopefully avoid this type of disagreement.  This position is well illustrated by the case of Greca v. Ndreka Construction Ltd.2018 CanLII 44844 (ON SCSM) which stated:

The Plaintiff’s and Defendants’ evidence on the terms of the contract were both equally credible and therefore in my opinion the Plaintiff has not been able to establish on the balance of probabilities his position as to the terms of the oral agreement.  If the contract would have been in writing and signed by the parties then the terms of contract would likely have been more clearly established.

Without establishing that the terms of the contract are as asserted by the Plaintiff the Plaintiff cannot establish on the balance of probabilities that any money is owed by the Defendants.

If it is now too late for the above do not worry as you have not lost your opportunity to obtain the compensation that you are entitled to as a result of a contractor’s failure to do what he agreed to do, doing the job is a incompetent manner, damaging your home in the process of doing the agreed repairs and/or demanding payment far in excess of the agreed quote.  The Courts have held that a verbal contract is enforceable as outlined in the case of Schrempf v. Willchuk, 2013 ONSC 2863 (CanLII) which states:

[5]  On the first issue of whether an oral agreement existed, in Picavet v. Clute, 2012 CarswellOnt 4575 (ON S.C.), Healey J.  at para.  9 summarized that where there is no written contract documenting the alleged agreement “the court must examine everything occurring between the two parties that is relevant to the alleged agreement in order to decide whether a contract exists.”

[6]  Paragraph 15 of the decision of Cavarzan J.  in Summers v. Sawyer, 2005 CarswellOnt 4001 (ON S.C.), provides as follows with respect to binding oral agreements:

Whether or not a binding oral agreement was formed in the circumstances here is a question which engages what has been called the objective principle of contract formation.  As stated in S.M.  Waddams, The Law of Contracts (5th Edition) at p.  103:

The principle function of the law of contracts is to protect reasonable expectations engendered by promises.

The Court’s have also held that a contract for home construction and renovation contains implied clauses as to the quality, nature and fitness of a contractor’s services and the limits by which he or she can ask for more funds that were originally agreed upon.

So if your basement is flooding, your shower is leaking, or your kitchen cabinets are falling off the wall after being repaired, you have remedies and if you would like assistance navigating the complicated issues arising from both written and oral contracting/renovation agreements and the Small Claims Courts in the hopes of avoiding further expenses added to your already costly construction project, get in touch!

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