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suing a contractor
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One of the joys of home ownership is being able to modify and alter the structure, layout, and furnishings within your home. Most people hire contractors to complete renovations on their homes instead of completing the work on their own. Contractors are usually experts in their field, they know what to do, when to do it and how much it will cost.

But what do you do if the renovation does not finish, or the work done is of worse quality than advertised? Can I sue my contractor? Sometimes, the only answer to solving your renovation troubles is through the court.

How do I know if I can sue my contractor?

The most important factor in if you can sue your contractor is the contract you have to complete the renovation with the contractor. A contract can be implied, oral or written. In general terms, it is an agreement between two parties for an exchange of goods and services. In most renovations, the contract is the agreed upon work to be done, and the exchange of money for the services and expertise of the contractor.

The ability to sue your contractor directly stems from the contract agreed between the parties. If the contractor did not complete the work agreed, completed the work inaccurately or completed the work negligently, you may have grounds to sue. The most important factor for a suit against your contractor is damages.

What are damages?

Damages is used in common law to describe the monetary amount to be paid to a successful party to a contract dispute. For example, if your house had $10,000.00 in water damage to your basement from a renovation gone wrong, your damages are $10,000.00. Damages are not always obvious, and the court can be asked to quantify, or decide, these other types of damages. Unfinished work, poor work, and the replacement thereof, can lead to an increase in your claimed damages.

What steps are involved in suing my contractor?

First, you need to think about what your desired outcome is. Do you want the contractor to just finish the agreed upon work? It may not be advisable to sue a contractor who you still wish to have further work completed by. Do you want to recover on any money you spent on fixing a renovation completed by a previous contractor? This type of damage recovery is much more suited to litigation.

The next step in getting ready for litigation against a contractor is to gather all of your records. It is important to have a clear timeline of the events, when did you first hire the contractor, when did you first notice any deficiencies, did you try to correct any issues with the contractor before suing them? Having answers to these questions is important before you consider finding a lawyer who deals with Construction Act claims.

What if my damages are only $35,000.00 or less?

If you only have damages in the range of $35,000.00 or less, you can pursue a contractor in Small Claims Court. Small Claims court can only award monetary damages, however, it is both quicker and less expensive compared to Superior Court litigation. A licensed Paralegal can represent your interests in Small Claims Court for fees that are generally less than those of Lawyers operating in the Superior Court.

If you have questions about litigation related to home or property renovations, reach out to our team today,


This content is not intended to provide legal advice or opinion as neither can be given without reference to specific events and situations. © 2021 Nelligan O’Brien Payne LLP.

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