Yard destroyed in renovation battle
Published Wednesday, June 26, 2013 6:00PM PDT Last Updated Wednesday, June 26, 2013 8:16PM PDT
A Burnaby woman is fighting to get her money back after renovation work to fix her leaky basement left her yard in shambles.
Shirley Thiel is unable to use her green space after a construction crew from Conforz Construction dug up her yard and dismantled her deck to install drainage tiles.
“I'm devastated about this whole experience. I can't use my yard, I'm concerned about my foundation, it has just been a nightmare for me," said Thiel
The contractor said he needed $30,000 to $50,000 to build a new foundation after he discovered the house was built on rocks.
"Initially I said just to abort the whole thing, but he said he couldn't and that he had to continue, and I felt pressured because I was worried my house would collapse and so I gave him the deposit for the work," she said.
Thiel paid another $15,000 deposit with no written estimate. That was on top of the $5,000 she had already paid for the initial work. But shortly after, Thiel said she told the contractor that she wanted the job stopped to explore her options.
So the foreman brought in an independent engineer who assessed the situation and didn’t like what he saw.
"They went too far. They went too far, too deep and I think at that time it was a no win situation," said Carlos Chiu, senior manager at Chiu Hippmann Engineering Inc.
Chiu says the crew should have seen the boulders, knew drainage tiles were not an option and stopped digging.
That didn't happen. Thiel wanted her deposit back, but says the contractor refused and walked off the job.
Conforz Construction owner Roberto Benassi told CTV News he advised the homeowner, “it could cost up to $30,000 to fix the whole foundation properly, but then she didn't want to spend that kind of money.”
Benassi said he offered to fill in the holes in Thiels's yard and walk away if she signed a letter releasing him from future liability.
"When she told us to leave it, she doesn't have the money to continue, I didn't feel safe because now whatever happens to that project, I'm responsible and I don't like doing the projects at half-ass,” said Benassi.
Benassi told CTV that he would give Thiel’s money back if he received a letter from her lawyer. But that hasn’t happened, even though Thiel’s lawyer sent him a letter.
Benassi offered to pay more than half of the money back, claiming he had already completed a considerable amount of work. But Thiel said the engineer claims only a minimal amount of work was done and she refused to take the lower amount. The standoff between the two parties continues.
Tune in to CTV News at 6 on Thursday to learn ways to protect yourself and the right questions to ask before hiring a contractor.