The take-away

Dealing with contractors is, more often than not, dangerous. Some 80% of contractors are incompetent or dishonest or both. CRA says they're the most crooked trade around.  Homeowners who have been victimized by them, and subsequently find out that they have essentially no defense, have developed a palpable contempt for contractors. Incompetent contractors generally have a cash flow problem, and once they deal with the legal costs of getting the lien file into court, they're frequently not able to keep a lawyer engaged in all of the follow-up, nor do they really need to. All they have to do is gather up their paperwork, deliver it, and show up once in a while. They may need a Notary Public now and again. Favorite tactic - keep asking for adjournments. They'll usually get them, until the judge decides enough is enough. The homeowner, on the other hand, will be writing a cheque for about a thousand dollars every month for potentially two years or more, to keep the process moving through the court, which has to be done if he wants the lien cleared.

At the end, the homeowner will almost assuredly have the bogus lien cleared, and get an order for the contractor to pay some of his legal costs and possibly the counterclaim. However, the contractor is probably broke or near-broke, which means that the homeowner may never recover his costs, at least not all of them. Maybe the contractor didn't walk away with the money he had liened the house for, but he effectively destroyed the homeowner's life for two years or more, and cost him about $20,000. And he'll do it again, unless NS laws catch up to the rest of North America to stop him, and people like him.

That crooked contractors - at least in Nova Scotia - almost never suffer consequences at the hands of the court explains and justifies homeowners' practice settling scores online and in the media. Being exposed by various online resources at least gives the public a fighting chance at avoiding being ripped off by unscrupulous and incompetent contractors.

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