As Suzanne Bergeron Stonehouse and her husband rake up leaves of their entrance yard, a garden signal continues to be propped up within the flower mattress, promoting the identify of the contractor that was speculated to do flood repairs on their house.
“I’ll burn it someday,” stated Bergeron Stonehouse, whose house was broken throughout the 2017 spring floods.
The couple, who stay in Deux-Montagnes, west of Montreal, fear they are going to be compelled to pay again practically $90,000 in monetary support after the corporate they employed did not do the work.
“This has actually floored us,” stated Bergeron Stonehouse, 68, sitting beside her husband, John, 71, within the entrance lobby of their house, a stack of emails and letters from their contractor and the federal government piled in entrance of her.
The couple employed Renoka Development in 2019 and gave it a down fee to do repairs, which included elevating the home and redoing the inspiration. The couple additionally signed a mandate, giving Renoka the authorization to barter straight with the province on their behalf.
However the work was by no means completed and the corporate is not in enterprise.
“The explanation we went with the federal government for the additional cash is as a result of we do not have it. They usually count on us to have it now?” stated Bergeron Stonehouse.
Retirement financial savings in danger
When Bergeron Stonehouse employed Renoka, she thought the repairs could be completed instantly because it was thought-about emergency work. As an alternative, she says the contractor stored suspending, first to work on properties broken by the floods in Île Bizard and, later, as a result of pandemic.
Annoyed by the delays and nervous about rising building prices, the couple tried to cancel the contract final fall, however Renoka refused.
In early 2021, Bergeron Stonehouse despatched a authorized demand letter, declaring that since no work had been completed, the cash they paid as an advance must be reimbursed. The corporate by no means responded.
Final month, Bergeron Stonehouse observed Renoka not had an RBQ licence. In Quebec, anybody who does building work should maintain a licence from the the Régie du bâtiment du Québec.
A number of weeks later, the Ministry of Public Safety, which oversees the flood help program, requested Bergeron Stonehouse and her husband to pay again the cash. They’ve till Nov. 7 to take action. In the event that they wish to enchantment the choice, they’ve till the start of December.
“We did every part based on what was requested of us,” stated Bergeron Stonehouse, who’s nervous they’re going to need to dip into their retirement financial savings to cowl the prices.
“It makes you’re feeling very small, like you do not depend.”
Contractor says he is owed cancellation charges
When CBC contacted Renoka vice-president Georges Samman this summer time, he blamed the federal government for any work delays.
He stated it is as much as the province to approve contracts and he was nonetheless ready to be paid for initiatives he accomplished in 2018.
“We do not begin work till a minimal 60 per cent is paid out.”
Within the spring of 2020, Samman stated he caught COVID-19.
For the remainder of that 12 months, all of Renoka’s main initiatives have been placed on maintain.
In 2021, lumber costs and different building prices soared as a result of pandemic, which meant many contracts needed to be renegotiated.
“It is actually an enormous headache,” stated Samman.
The Stonehouses’ contract was value a complete of $192,000.
Samman stated he defined to them that it couldn’t be cancelled as a result of Renoka had already put down a deposit for a number of subcontractors to do structural, electrical and architectural work.
“My contracts are all binded to 30 per cent cancellation charges,” he stated. “That is even when we did not do nothing. So that you cancel the settlement, it’s a must to pay 30 per cent straight up since you can not simply cancel.”
Bergeron Stonehouse says she would not have something in her contract or within the small print that spells that out.
Battle of curiosity?
This isn’t the primary time Samman has come underneath scrutiny.
Again in 2018, an Île-Bizard homeowner alleged his government-authorized evaluator used his place to get Samman, an acquaintance and enterprise companion, the contract to restore his house.
The house owner felt it was a battle of curiosity and wished a brand new injury inspection completed.
Bergeron Stonehouse stated she didn’t see the media protection till after she had superior their flood compensation cash to Renoka as a deposit for future work.
As soon as Bergeron Stonehouse started to have issues with Renoka, she requested the federal government for assist.
It advised the couple rent one other contractor and begin from scratch.
“We’ve no cash,” stated Bergeron Stonehouse, who requested the province, “Are you going to pay twice?”
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Public Safety instructed CBC in an electronic mail that it can not suggest contractors. It’s as much as the house owner to rent them. Nevertheless, residents can file a criticism to the Client Safety Workplace or the police if they’ve cause to consider they’ve been defrauded.
Enterprise companions at odds
Bergeron Stonehouse and her husband have thought-about taking Renoka to court docket, however are nervous that may drag on for years.
“It is laborious to sue any person when you may’t discover them,” stated Bergeron Stonehouse, who was unable to succeed in anybody from the corporate for months.
A number of weeks in the past, CBC tracked Samman down.
In a terse cellphone name, he defined that he is not with Renoka and is not doing renovation work.
“I’m out. I do not wish to be concerned,” he stated.
When requested how the corporate misplaced its RBQ licence or why it was not working, Samman instructed CBC it was no one’s enterprise.
He referred any questions on buyer contracts to Rabih Kassouf, Renoka’s president.
Kassouf gave the impression to be shocked when CBC instructed him Samman stated he was not a companion.
Kassouf stated he hadn’t seen Samman since he had been sick with COVID-19 in 2020 and wanted to take a seat down with him, however there seems to have been a falling out.
He confirmed the corporate not had an RBQ quantity.
“Now could be a nasty time,” stated Kassouf. “We’re ready slightly bit to see what we will do.”
Kassouf appeared to concentrate on the Stonehouses’ demand letter and stated he was checking together with his insurance coverage firm to see if the cash could possibly be reimbursed.
Hoping to carry onto their house
The Stonehouses’ lawyer has since been in contact with Kassouf to arrange a gathering together with his lawyer.
The couple is cautiously optimistic.
If they don’t seem to be capable of get the cash again from Renoka, they hope they are able to negotiate with the federal government about paying again a decrease quantity. They’d then decontaminate the basement themselves.
If the province would not conform to that and so they need to repay the total cash, the couple is nervous their finances will change into too tight.
“We simply wish to end our outdated age right here,” stated Bergeron Stonehouse.