A White Rock woman has been awarded more than $63,000 in damages in connection with home renovations a judge has described as “beyond deficient.”
“This is not simply a case where a corporate entity enters a contract to perform renovations, and those renovations are not done to the homeowner’s satisfaction,” Justice B.J. Brown concludes in reasons for judgment that were posted online Sept. 22.
“The failure in this case is so extreme as to amount to fraud.”
According to the court document, Deanna Mary Koltai sought damages against Dwayne Hauser and Hauser Custom Homes Ltd. in connection with renovations to a condo she bought on Vidal Street in December 2015.
She alleged breach of contract and negligence, claiming, among other things, that the defendants failed to perform the work properly and in a timely manner, failed to comply with regulations and removed a load-bearing wall without proper inspection or support.
Koltai told the court that the parties had a part-verbal, part-written agreement regarding who would do the work; Hauser’s expertise and oversight of the project; Hauser’s guarantee of quality, code compliance and fitness of the work; and that all necessary permits and authorizations would be obtained.
On that basis, they had agreed on a $84,997.50 project that was to be completed in April 2016.
Koltai told the court she paid $93,000, but that by mid-May 2016, it became apparent the work was not being performed to her satisfaction. She notified the defendants that she considered the contract breached; the following day, the defendants gave notice that no further work would be done on the renovation.
Koltai testified that she learned of problems with the project when a friend who went to the condo in late April to remove its stove and fridge reported to her that the renovation was “nowhere near completed and that it was a horrible disaster.”
She paid $58,000 to another contractor to complete the work. That individual testified that “all of the work was done inadequately and improperly,” Brown writes.
At trial, Hauser “acknowledged that the renovations did not go as planned,” Brown states.
He told the court he had advised Koltai of problems being experienced with the ceiling and floors, but that he did not expect them to be as extensive as they were.
“There were problems. He said that he felt like ‘we were getting in over our heads.’ He acknowledged that ‘I totally screwed up on this project,’” Brown writes.
Hauser submitted that he should not be personally liable for damages and that the contract had been with the company – for which he is the sole shareholder – only. Brown disagreed.
“He acknowledged that the whole job was unacceptably performed,” Brown states.
“He acknowledged that none of the work done would have passed code.”
She also notes that in cross-examination, Hauser said he did not tell Koltai “that he had been subject to nine different lawsuits or that he was paying off judgments.”
Brown found that the company breached the contract, and that Hauser was personally liable for damages.