After the ordeal by trial....

After all of the judicial processes are over and the legal bills have been paid, and assuming that the rogue contractor has actually stuck it out this far, the judge will probably find in your favour. He/she will issue an order to vacate the lien on your property, order the contractor to pay for some of your legal costs, and possibly award other damages to you.

But here's the problem - the court is not a collection agency, and does not care if you are paid for your legal expenses or if the judgment for damages is settled. You will get the order to vacate the lien, which can definitely be executed. As far as payment is concerned though, you may be in for a bumpy ride. That doesn't mean it's hopeless - here's an excellent discussion on Enforcing Judgements, including how to seize a house. Don't get queasy about this - it's essentially the same as he's been trying to do to you. At least one Nova Scotian homeowner is absolutely committed to seeing his ex-contractor in the middle of the street selling his furniture to recoup at least some of his own losses, no matter how long it takes.

When dealings with the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia and the lawyers come to an end, you are free to pursue your tormentor in a number of ways, although none of them will necessarily get you any of the money to which you're entitled.

A collection agency is to a contractor with a judgment over his head as a great white shark is to an Australian surfer. If regular searches show that the contractor does not have any seizable assets, collection agents can at least make his life miserable. You will lose about 30% of anything the agency collects, but 70% of something is better than 100% of nothing. And collection agencies are known for disproving "you can't get blood out of a turnip." Collection agencies have a scary repertoire of tactics to get you to pay up. They're prevented by law from doing really bad things - like banging on doors at 3 am - but agents routinely push the envelope. And they can confront you in any public place, in a very loud voice.

When a registered sex offender or high risk dangerous offender has been released and moves into your neighborhood, usually the pictures come out and the public is notified - like this one. You are - or should be - entitled to expose your crooked contractor online using social media or a dedicated website. Remember that picture you took? Use it. That should be your first page. Give his name and make it clear that this is a public service. You don't want to create the impression that you're just looking for revenge. Provide a chronological summary - with pictures - of the broken promises, useless workmanship, and every other transgression you can think of. Avoid opinions and stick to facts. You can register a website along with privacy protection for under $100/year. If you're not into web building, get your teenager - or your neighbour's teenager - to do it. As far as websites go, this is about as simple as it gets. You're not selling Ferraris - all you want is text and some pictures. Include an email address so people can comment on it or ask questions. Use "comments@johnsmith.com." The web host will automatically forward all emails to your personal email address, and still maintain your privacy. Your first contact will frequently be a reporter.

Here's a pretty good example.....

Unlike real professions and qualified trades, reno contractors almost never circle the wagons to protect their own. We know of a website dedicated to a local contractor who broke almost every rule in the book - in a 6-month period there were over ten thousand hits but not a single email in his defense. Reno contractors are mostly cannibals - they'll throw their colleagues under the bus in a heartbeat. Ten of them were invited in to bid on a project - nine of them made their competitors sound like illiterate fools. Which, when you reflect on the statistics, probably had at least some truth to it.

If you run a website or blog, pick a domain name with the guy's name in it - www.johnsmith.com, for example. If that's taken, go for www.johnsmithcrookedcontractor.com. Mention his full name several times in the text - that's what search engines look for. Put "crooked contractor" in several places, too. Use ".ca" instead of ".com" if you want to but .com will usually get more attention.

The privacy offered by most web hosts is useful - if the defeated reno contractor wants to take a run at you for libel, he'll have to serve papers on the Acme Proxy Co in Amsterdam or some other inconvenient place. The privacy option masks you as the owner of the website. It's possible that the privacy shield may be penetrated and you find yourself confronted with a libel threat. However, if you report honestly and accurately, it's really hard to launch a successful legal attack against a web site. Launching a libel suit is not a DIY process - it's a complicated, expensive process. Litigation can be expensive, uncertain, and emotionally draining - sort of the same as what the contractor has been doing to the homeowner for about two years.

Truth is the the drop-dead defense against a libel suit, if anybody's reckless enough to try. Besides, such an attempt will probably make the 6 o'clock news, and you can't buy publicity like that. An honest lawyer will know that and explain to the contractor that this may look like litigation, but it's going to become self-immolation really quickly. Obviously you've contributed material to the site but that's no different than giving information to the local media. The contractor mentioned above had his lawyer threaten the homeowner with a libel suit a few days after the site was posted. The homeowner didn't bother answering (partly because he wasn't the registered owner) and nothing more was heard. The contractor found it progressively difficult to find work as the site became widely known.

The company hosting your site will usually take your privacy very seriously, as does the Supreme Court of Canada. For the crooked contractor who has just lost his ill-conceived adventure in court, about all he can look forward to is gnashing his teeth and wringing his hands.

With or without a website, you should definitely take advantage of a contractor referral site - https://trustedpros.ca/ - is probably one of the best known. It's a place where contractors live or die - like this one - or this one. The site puts a lot of effort into keeping comments honest. Homeowners can state their case and contractors can - if they're so inclined - explain themselves. The website operators are reportedly good at sniffing out fiction, good and bad, from both sides. Include pictures and a link to your own website if you wish.
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